The Importance of Mitch McConnell: A non-partisan perspective

Mitch McConnell is the single most important person in the government today. To see why this is, consider that Mitch, John McCain, and Lindsay Graham form a stabilizing force in the Republican party, and by extension, the government. Taking the assumption that stable government is a positive thing, and that the direction of the government comes from those with the most support, it’s important to note that these three senators have been some of the key players in policy over the last 7 years. McCain influences military policy as the chair of the Armed Services Committee; Graham is on the Budget, Appropriations, and Armed Service Committees, each of which is key, and Mitch McConnell sits on a number of high profile committees while also being the Majority Leader of the Senate.

McCain Isn’t In the Inner Circle

If due to brain cancer, John McCain were to retire or become unable to perform duties as a Senator, the trifecta would suffer a significant set back. Even now the clout of McCain is questionable. For instance, when during the last ditch effort to pass healthcare reform, McCain defected on the “skinny healthcare” bill — voting “no” — he did not draw a crowd. The only other two no votes were by senators that typically have opposed the direction of the party. McCain is probably no longer important as a stabilizing voice in the Republican party, given that he clearly doesn’t have sway with the president.

Graham is diminished

During the election Lindsay Graham frequently critiqued the president, only later dialing down that criticism when it became apparent that doing so would be highly unpopular. His approach has largely been pragmatic, real-politique — as long as Trump is powerful he refrains from attack, when there are moments of weakness in the news cycle, he is prone to jab the president. This week, he threatened that an attempt for a recess appointment by Trump would be “holy hell”, shortly after the failed healthcare vote. Graham has little power as long as the Trump agenda is center stage, because it is counter to the Republican zeitgeist. Currently that zeitgeist is concerned with protecting the president from Russian controversy, even if that means firing loyalists (for example, Jeff Sessions), and ending the investigation Mueller is conducting. (In Alabama, for instance though McConnell has won the state several times, even running opposed most recently, Alabamans have not deserted the president though he may fire Sessions. )

McConnell is a Procedural Mastermind

McConnell is in many senses the champion of the party. He won (or stole) the Supreme Court seat by delaying hearings for a replacement justice under Obama. As majority leader, he has a large voice on procedural matters, as demonstrated in the healthcare votes, where he controlled timing such that there was little time for opposition voices outside of amendment proposals. The final vote was held within hours of the bill being shown to the senate.

McConnell’s position on Trump is unclear, but what is clear is that he will do anything for the Republican’s to win. That’s essential not only for Republican’s, but for the government and country as a whole. If his value is diminished in the eye’s of Trump, then there will be no strong voices moving ahead any agenda. This will magnify chaos, blurring the direction of policy, and stifling execution. If this happens, then the government won’t be able to get tax reform done, which could weaken market confidence resulting in a drop in the president’s approval. The negative risk isn’t that the republican’s will lose the 2018 elections, but that civil tensions will worsen as the economy writhes, moderate voices are drowned out even more, and confidence and trust in Congress converges to zero (Though…it’s not bad for the entire government.)