Despite the nastiness of politics, the endless mind-numbing banter, the mudslinging, the accusations, the criticisms, Mitch McConnell never loses focus of the fact that Kentuckians sent him to Washington to do a job.
He’s proven himself to be a real workhorse in the U.S. Senate. And his re-election this week as Senate majority leader only strengthens his ability to get things done.
Over the past three decades, McConnell has accomplished much, including helping to build and enhance the infrastructure needed for the state to prosper. He’s had a hand in every major transportation project in the state since first elected in 1984, whether roads and bridges or river locks and airports.
In the ugliness of politics, it would be easy to lose sight of the fact that Sen. McConnell has fought for Kentucky’s coal miners, veterans, active-duty military personnel, the working class, the poor, and for the families from every rung of the economic ladder who have been traumatized by drug abuse and overdose deaths resulting from the heroin epidemic that has swept the state and nation.
It also would be easy to lose sight of the fact that Sen. McConnell is reflecting Kentucky’s proud political tradition in Washington. It’s hard to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television these days without seeing him.
Sen. McConnell isn’t the first Kentuckian to excel in Washington. We’ve had notable individuals like Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Zachary Taylor, like Vice Presidents Alben Barkley, John Breckinridge, Richard Johnson and Adlai Stevenson, like U.S. Supreme Court Justices Louis Brandeis, John Marshall Harlan and Frederick Vinson, and like Henry Clay, the great compromiser who served in the U.S. Senate, as speaker of the U.S. House, and as U.S. Secretary of State.
Now there’s Sen. McConnell, the longest-serving U.S. senator in Kentucky history. He is a fixture on Sunday morning talk shows. If they’re not talking to him, they’re talking about him. His words and actions are chronicled daily in print and broadcast news.
Not since the days of Barkley, who was Senate majority leader through World War II and vice president under Harry S. Truman, has Kentucky struck such a prominent profile in Washington. And that’s courtesy of Sen. McConnell.