With gaffe on voting rights, Mitch McConnell confirms what many already fear

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds an end-of-the-year news conference, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Of course, Sen. Mitch McConnell made a gaffe on Thursday when he said that African-Americans were voting at the same rate as Americans, leaving out the word “white.”

But sometimes gaffes have a way of stating the truth. McConnell was explaining why democracy was in fine shape, despite the failure of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to progress in the U.S. Senate. And for white Americans, the rich white ones that Mitch works hard to represent, that’s probably true. Attempts to overturn the filibuster — used many times against civil rights legislation — failed. McConnell thinks we should suspend the filibuster only when he’s trying to pack the U.S. Supreme Court as he did in 2017.

For “other” Americans, the ones whose interests are not such a priority for McConnell, democracy doesn’t look so robust. So far, 19 state legislatures have passed 34 laws that add new voting restrictions. The federal bill would attempt to restore federal oversight of states that have had historical problems with allowing minorities to vote, such as Alabama, where John Lewis almost died at the hands of state troopers when he marched for the rights of Black people to vote.

Democrats like Sen. Rand Paul challenger Charles Booker jumped on McConnell: “Mitch has never cared about us. And today, he just happened to speak his mind, and said the quiet part out loud.”

He’s right. Restrictions on who can vote and how overwhelmingly hurt poor and minority voters, the ones who propelled Biden to victory. It took the federal government to ensure everyone the right to vote in the 1960s, and it will take the federal government to keep that right intact, it seems.

To his credit, McConnell does not support the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election, but other Republicans are doing all they can to make it harder to vote. In Florida, for example, they’ve proposed a new police force to oversee elections to better root out the non-existent fraud they insist happened in 2020.

When McConnell makes gaffes like this, it just confirms many people’s suspicions that some Republicans — who are also trying to block schools’ teaching of this very history because it might make white people feel bad — don’t really think anyone but white people should be part of our political system.

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