Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz Declares War On Mitch McConnell So We'll Call That A Nice Time

Congress

Mitch McConnell is the worst thing that happened to the Senate and possibly America. (Donald Trump couldn't have survived impeachment or stacked the federal courts with rightwing hacks without McConnell.) We all know McConnell's a cartoon villain but we wondered if he'd ever push mild-mannered Democrats past the point of civility's return.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's sham hearings and party-line confirmation, followed by her midnight Sith-lord swearing-in ceremony at the White House, might've finally alerted Democrats to the fact that they're dealing with a bunch of crooks. Senate Republicans have no honor, desire for consensus-building, or respect for tradition. Adhering to “norms" or even the promises they made publicly just four years ago are for suckers.

Democrats are sick of being suckers. It's not fun. Their kids are watching.

Brian Schatz is a young, idealistic senator from Hawaii. He believed in the world's greatest deliberative body, but after Barrett's drive-by confirmation, he's no longer confident in the Senate's ability to do great things. This is a legislative body with the time to stack the courts — McConnell moved on to another judicial appointment after ramming through Barrett — but can't manage to pass a stimulus bill that would help millions of struggling Americans during a global pandemic. This is because McConnell sees no value in compromise. His only joy comes from demonstrations of brute force.

McConnell has murdered the Senate, and Schatz took a moment Monday to eulogize the institution he loved.


SCHATZ: I really worry about the Senate itself. I was so thrilled to be here. The circumstances of my entering the Senate were tragic, actually, because of the death of my predecessor. But I'm not gonna lie. I was being sent to the world's greatest deliberative body. It's like a promising high school basketball player being the 12th man on the LA Lakers. That's how I felt. I walked in and I thought, “This is the big show, the place where we solve America's problems."

And I have seen the inexorable destruction of this institution because of a lack of restraint on the Republican side.

Schatz is a Democrat so he admits that he'd love to claim that the blame fell on both sides. But he just can't. It's like he doesn't even know who he is anymore.

SCHATZ: It would be easier for me, because I don't wanna sound like that. I don't get anything out of that.

Brian Schatz doesn't want to be Ted Cruz or Tom Cotton or that new douchebag from Missouri.

SCHATZ: I imagined these groups of people — and it wasn't always the moderates, right — in the middle. Nowadays, the only people cutting deals in the middle are the moderates. But back in the day, it was Teddy Kennedy and Orrin Hatch.

That's true! Kennedy and Hatch worked together on such legislation as the Ryan White AIDS Care Act, State Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Cruz and Cotton spend most of their time scapegoating Democrats for the government's failures on Fox News.

SCHATZ: It was Danny Inouye and Ted Stevens. And now, there isn't even a desire to do big things here.

McConnell would disagree. He thinks passing giveaway tax cuts for billionaires is a noble cause, as is filling the courts with conservative judges so young they still have learner's permits. He hasn't actually improved anyone's life on a material level.

SCHATZ: There is a total lack of ambition to solve America's problems here. And there is a total lack of restraint when it comes to the exercise of power.

McConnell doesn't care if the past three Supreme Court justices were confirmed with a bare majority after he ditched the 60-vote threshold. The only thing “bipartisan" about Barrett's confirmation was its opposition, but once again, McConnell believes consent of the governed is a concept for suckers. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed 96 to three, but Barrett's vote in the Supreme Court will have no less authority.

Schatz didn't just mourn a simpler time and leave with his tail between his legs. He demands that Democrats build something better from the Republican rubble. Since Justice Ginsburg's death, Schatz has targeted Mitch McConnell's Senate majority. He's joined with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy to fundraise on Twitter for Democratic Senate candidates across the country. They're both adorably affable but they're not Charlie Brown trying to kick a football: They know that Republicans can't be reasoned with and only total defeat can even begin the process of repairing the Senate.

Better days are ahead but we still have work to do.

Donate to the Democratic Senate fund here.

And if you're on Twitter, go follow Schatz and Murphy. They're a reminder that the problem isn't the Senate in general. It's the Republicans who control it.

[Washington Post]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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