Earlier this week an extremely testy Mitch McConnell sent a warning to corporate America. Angry that companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, and Major League Baseball had had the audacity to criticize Georgia’s highly restrictive new voting law, the Senate minority leader issued a vague but nevertheless ominous threat about what might happen to naughty little multinationals that failed to keep their traps shut. “Our private sector must stop taking cues from the Outrage-Industrial Complex,” he seethed. “Americans do not need or want big business to amplify disinformation or react to every manufactured controversy with frantic left-wing signaling. From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government. Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”
Obviously, at no time during his rant did the Kentucky lawmaker mention that his entire existence in Washington has been made possible by, and works at the behest of, the very corporations he thinks shouldn’t be allowed to speak out against voter suppression and other injustices. As The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer wrote last year, “Nobody has done more than [McConnell] has to engineer the current campaign-finance system, in which billionaires and corporations have virtually no spending limits, and self-dealing and influence-peddling are commonplace.” In 2003, McConnell, then the Senate majority whip, personally filed a suit against laws that limited companies’ ability to spend money to influence elections, demanding that the Supreme Court strike down the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. While the court ended up upholding most of the constitutionality of the BCRA, McConnell was undeterred and got his wish several years later. Per The New Yorker:
Armed with funding from such billionaire conservatives as the DeVos family, McConnell helped take the quest to kill restraints on spending all the way to the Supreme Court. In 2010, his side won: The Citizens United decision opened the way for corporations, big donors, and secretive nonprofits to pour unlimited and often untraceable cash into elections.
“McConnell loves money, and abhors any controls on it,” Fred Wertheimer, the president of campaign-finance-reform group Democracy 21, told Mayer. “Money is the central theme of his career.” Just how much money has McConnell happily accepted from the corporations whose mouths he’d now like to wire shut? Funny you should ask! In the last five years alone, the minority leader has received $4.3 million in corporate cash to fund his campaigns. Meanwhile, a super PAC he’s aligned with took in more than 100 times that in 2020 alone:
As Esquire’s Jack Holmes wrote on Monday, McConnell “has done as much as anyone alive today…to get large corporations as much clout as possible in our politics. The McConnellian Ideal would see corporations directly elect their senators.”
So how does the Kentuckian get away with telling corporations to butt out without choking on his own hypocrisy? Obviously, the thing that people need to understand here is that in order to feel guilty about being a colossal hypocrite, one must be able to experience shame, an emotion that has long since been sucked out of McConnell’s body. Which is why on Tuesday, he was able to say this with a straight face:
That’s right, everyone, important clarification here! McConnell is fine with corporations donating gobs of money in order to have an undue influence on politics, but when they start speaking out about injustices suffered by real Americans, they’ve gone too far.
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