On Monday I wrote about the GOP’s long-term plan to turn the presidency into a (Republican) unitary executive office. You might think that it makes no sense that members of Congress would go along with such a thing, seeing as it directly interferes with their own constitutional prerogatives. That was certainly what the founders assumed would be the case. They assumed that human egos would demand that people jealously guard their own branches of government, thus preserving the checks and balances that would keep any one branch from gathering too much power unto itself. But it turns out that the modern Republicans are loyal to their party above all else, and no one personifies that dedication more than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
When the history of this bizarre era is written, it may very well be said that McConnell was the man behind the curtain who made it all happen. Depending on who does the writing, he could also go down as one of America’s most notorious senators. No, he’s not like those traitors who abandoned the Senate to join the Confederacy, nor is he a crude segregationist like the 20th century’s Theodore Bilbo or James Eastland of Mississippi. He’s no demagogue like Wisconsin’s Joe McCarthy or Louisiana’s Huey Long either. But there are elements of all of those men in McConnell, who holds a very special place in that pantheon as what historian Christopher R. Downing called “the gravedigger of democracy.”