Mitch McConnell is being challenged for the Republican Party nomination by Matt Bevin, at least on paper. In reality this race and the one scheduled for November between what clearly looks like Mitch vs. Alison Lundergan Grimes have one thing in common. Both contests have a single issue, that it's time for Mitch to go. And a lot of people share that sentiment.
While Mitch McConnell is credited with being the architect of the Kentucky GOP, he really deserves a lot of credit for helping build the Kentucky TEA party. Those folks recite over and over any number of votes, statements, cave ins and deals Mitch has made which do not fit their narrow view of "principled politics". Their criticisms of Mitch are vigorous, vociferous and sometimes downright vicious. It is Mitch who represents in their eyes all that is wrong with Washington, and politics in general and opposition to Mitch is the single biggest rallying point for many republicans who now call the TEA party home.
Agreeing with them that it is time for Mitch to go are a number of steadfast Jim Bunning supporters in Northern Kentucky who will never forgive Mitch for what he did to get Jim to step down. Nor will they ever get over the disrespect they got when many close Mitch supporters claimed that it was he who saved Bunning's butt in one close race after another giving little if any credit to the hardworking Bunning folks who toiled in the sun while Mitch stole the credit.
And around the Commonwealth plenty of people who don't know the whole story, still can't get over what Mitch did to Ernie Fletcher and Ann Northup both at the same time. The word "traitor" comes easily to many as their seething dislike for Mitch fills the air.
And how many candidates out there can count the number of times Mitch has thrown one of them under the bus, including good solid republicans who gave their life to the party, gave money to Mitch, stood up and spoke for him time and time again only to be treated like lepers when they needed his help and hoped their support would have earned his in return?
Yes, the number of people who would dance and sing and cheer the day Mitch got his comeuppance is not an insignificant number. And so both Bevin and Grimes have tried to capture that momentum and use it to oust McConnell in what they hope would be tar and feathers. But that isn't what an election is really all about.
Elections are about choices. And if you happen to be one of the people who can't stand Mitch McConnell, the question you should be asking yourself isn't whether you can play a part in seeing him lose, but rather what do you get if the other guy wins?
For all the criticism against McConnell from both republicans with hurt feelings and democrats who hope to help Barack Obama by removing the biggest obstacle to the success of his progressive agenda and replace it instead with a firmly reliable vote in his column, take time to remember history.
Today conservatives want something very different from Washington than what they wanted just a few years ago. Today they want a leaner budget, not long ago we wanted our Senators to bring home the bacon. We wanted prosperity to be fueled by government grants, special tax treatment and celebrated with ribbon cuttings, not budget cuts.
Today conservatives are impatient and demanding and insist upon symbolic sacrifice for principles most of them really don't even understand. Not long ago we seemed to have a more tolerant approach, understood how laws were made and how majorities controlled and how winners made policy while losers go home.
Conservatives today rail against bailouts and the national debt, spurred on by self proclaimed rodeo clowns like Glenn Beck and well reasoned loud mouths like Mark Levin who make plenty of money feeding the masses what they want to hear. But it all reminds me of a skit on the late night show of Jimmy Kimmel.
Kimmel went out on the street and asked people if they were in favor of food that was gluten free. Of course it is very popular to say yes to that question. Then he asked them "what is gluten". The dumb looks, dumb answers and dumb people illustrated how easy it is to get people on board with pop culture even if they don't know what they are doing.
How many people who buy into Glenn Beck's doomsday predictions over the national debt even know what it is? Who owes what to whom? How many people know what the bailouts were, what they did and who got what? Not long ago we were less gullible, less inclined to be led like lemmings into a mindset without thinking, and more inclined to trust our elected officials than today.
And who can really look back over McConnell's record and say that in context, at the time he was performing, that he wasn't really doing what the people of Kentucky asked him to do, expected him to do and rewarded him for doing?
So if you are critical of McConnell for being a political brute, fine. But if your reasons are based upon pop culture and current trends and somebody has convinced you that his record of performance in the Senate didn't really represent what the majority of Kentuckians wanted, you are delusional. They returned him to office over and over and will do so again this year.
And since elections are not about punishing people for your hurt feelings but doing what is best for the Commonwealth (no, my TEA party friends, it's not about "the nation" it's about Kentucky) then ask yourself who has been proven better able to get things done in Washington DC, oppose the march of Obama's agenda, lend prestige to Kentucky and will become the majority leader in January? And who is an afterthought candidate who had to be pulled and pushed into running just so Mitch would have opposition, who if he could survive May and win in November (not a chance on either count) would end up a back bencher at best or more likely just another voice in the dwindling crowd of malcontents vying for fame and claiming principles but getting nothing done?
And considering the race in November who is better able to raise the money, fight the fight, stand up and make the case why a vote for Obama would be a mistake for Kentucky?
Hold your nose if you have to, look for the opportunity for this to be a teachable moment for Mitch, see the chance to tell him this is your last term buddy, do any of those things you want, but when it comes to seeing this race for what it really is, a choice between two candidates, that choice is clear. The choice, YOUR choice must be Mitch McConnell.
(sorry, there is a commercial first)