Head Mitch In Charge

Campaigns to Ditch Mitch matter at least as much as the race for the White House.

Most of my newsletter entries aren’t a specific call to action. My approach is more about helping people understand what’s happening and maybe figure out how to articulate it.

This one is that, but it is also a call to action.

Now, a caveat: this post is not aimed at convincing people that elections matter. If you have issues with the value or validity of electoral politics, it’s not my job to persuade you otherwise. Not here. Not today.

For people reading this from inside the United States and planning to participate in the election, the case I’m here to make is this:

The electoral outcome that matters the most at the national level is which party controls the Senate next year.

Now, I do want Trump gone. If I could wave a magic wand and guarantee the outcome of any nationwide race, I’d start with him. I don’t think there’s a single US race that matters as much as that one, in terms of its effect on the course of the nation or the world. There’s certainly no one senator we could get rid of that would go as far towards fixing things.

But whether Trump holds onto his office matters less than whether or not he has Mitch McConnell or another GOP crony running the senate for him. If we can flip the senate, then Trump’s second term looks less rosy for him. If we flip the White House but don’t flip the Senate, then Mitch (or his successor) continues his reign of terror.

Mitch McConnell… is extremely likely to win his bid for re-election and there’s not much we can do about that. His opponent is outspending him by a wide margin and also trailing him by a wide margin.

But if the Republicans don’t hold a majority of the seats after the election, then Mitch loses the position that matters: Senate Majority Leader. He becomes one senator out of a hundred with just one vote. Sure, he’ll likely keep his leadership position (unless he’s being blamed by his party for a rout), but he’ll be the new Chuck Schumer: lot of statements, little leverage.

Som the single thing we can do, as members of the electorate, is to help flip as many Senate seats as we can from red to blue, while holding all the blue ones.

I said I was going to make a call to action, didn’t I?

What I’m going to ask you to do is donate to Democrats who are running against vulnerable Republican Senators, or to Democratic Senators who are up for re-election this year. You can do your research and adopt a campaign. You can use some of the ready-made ones, like the cunningly named “Get Mitch or Die Trying” campaign, which apportions your contribution among carefully selected races.

Remember: the goal is to unseat Mitch McConnell from the majority leadership position by flipping the senate. It would be great if we could get him all the way out of DC, but if our choices were to defeat Mitch McConnell but have a Republican majority or defeat the majority but leave McConnell in office, the majority matters more.

If your favorite Democratic presidential candidate is a senator, taking control of the senate away from McConnell is going to be a beautiful gift to them. The top progressive candidates are still US Senators and in a Biden presidency their voices and views will carry more weight the bigger the Democratic lead in the Senate is.

It doesn’t even matter if the candidates you’re donating to aren’t great candidates, if they don’t share all your views. No senate election we participate in matters nearly as much as the election the senate will have next January, where all the members of each party caucus vote for who will be in charge of the agenda for the next two years. We need a Democrat to win that, we need McConnell and the Republicans to lose it, and that means we need to flip their seats and keep ours.

There is no clever procedural stratagem that can get around this. No gambit, no deal, no secret system of by-laws that the bravest and wisest senator can master to defeat McConnell and force him to provide relief or protect rights or do anything he doesn’t want to do.

We need control of the senate to be out of his hands.

We need to bury the Republican Party’s control of the senate in a deep, dark grave and pour cement over it.

It’s not enough to vote. It’s not enough to win elections. It’s never been enough, and it’s especially not enough now. But even if we fight and win by every other metric… if we can’t take the senate, we’re at best treading water.

Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of civic participation.