Michelle Cottle | Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Get to Define ‘Bipartisan’ – The New York Times

“. . .  In recent years, for instance, there has been strong bipartisan support for modest gun control measures such as expanded background checks and red-flag laws, but Mr. McConnell’s Senate never got around to making those happen. Neither have lawmakers provided legislative relief to Dreamers, immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children, despite bipartisan public support for providing legal status and a path to citizenship.

Last August, the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy issued a report, based on a survey of more than 80,000 Americans, enumerating nearly 150 issues on which majorities of Democrats and Republicans agree. These range from raising the eligibility age for Social Security to creating a national registry for police misconduct, and from strengthening campaign finance laws to imposing congressional term limits.

As for Mr. Biden’s relief plan, currently awaiting congressional action: 76 percent of Americans, including 60 percent of Republicans, support it, according to a Morning Consult poll out Wednesday.

Going forward, Mr. Biden should think, and talk, about bipartisanship as it relates to the American public — not whether a few tribal warriors in Congress can be coaxed into crossing party lines. His team has explicitly nodded in this direction now and again. “Even with narrow majorities in Congress, he has the opportunity to build broad bipartisan support for his program — not necessarily in Congress but with the American people,” his adviser Anita Dunn told CNN in January, regarding Covid relief.

This should be the standard party line. If, say, 70 percent of the electorate supports a policy, including a majority of Republicans, it is bipartisan — regardless of what McConnell & Company think of it. By hammering home this more expansive definition, Mr. Biden can start nudging people — maybe even lawmakers — to think more in terms of a policy’s widespread appeal than about what the loudest voices on either side are demanding.

This would be a step toward making government work better for everyone. Except maybe Mr. McConnell.”      -30-

Why Is Mitch McConnell Picking This Fight? – The New York Times

“IN early 2009, as Barack Obama was about to take office, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican minority in the Senate, assembled his caucus at a retreat in West Virginia. There, he laid out his strategy for taking on the new president, who was sweeping into office on a tide of popularity, historical resonance and great expectations barely diminished by the economic free fall then underway.The key, Mr. McConnell told his fellow Republicans, was to stymie and undermine Mr. Obama, but to do so in subtle ways. As one of the senators present, Robert F. Bennett of Utah, later recalled to me: “Mitch said, ‘We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70 percent area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time. We create an inventory of losses, so it’s Obama lost on this, Obama lost on that. And we wait for the time where the image has been damaged to the point where we can take him on.’ ”Seven years later, with the Republicans now in the Senate majority, the opposition led by Mr. McConnell is as frontal as can be. After word of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death emerged last weekend, it took the majority leader less than an hour to announce that the Senate would not entertain a replacement before November. “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” he said.Mr. McConnell’s blunt declaration was taken as the starkest exhibition yet of the obstructionism that has characterized the Kentucky senator’s stance toward President Obama and congressional Democrats. The resistance from Mr. McConnell has had an enormous influence on the shape of Obama’s presidency. It has limited the president’s accomplishments and denied him the mantle of the postpartisan unifier he sought back in 2008. But it has also brought the Senate, the institution to which Mr. McConnell has devoted his life, close to rupture.His declaration on the Supreme Court also represents a striking shift for the veteran politician. In throwing down the gauntlet so emphatically, and potentially riling up a Democratic electorate, Mr. McConnell was doing something deeply out of character: putting at risk his and his party’s prospects in the coming election.”

The last two paragraphs, not quoted here, are brilliant. McConnell will risk losing the senate, to stop Obama from appointed a supreme court justice who just might upturn Citizens United, which is what keeps the Republicans able to win.

Source: Why Is Mitch McConnell Picking This Fight? – The New York Times