Hypocrisy, Thy Name is McConnell

Another entry in the "stunning, but not surprising" category of political observations.

Look, I am well aware that charges of hypocrisy in politics are easy and often trite. But sometimes, hoo-boy (to use some specialized political science lingo), it just slaps you in the face:

“My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics. Don’t pick sides in these big fights.”–Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Source for the above: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ‘Stay out of politics,’ Republican leader McConnell tells U.S. CEOs, warns of ‘consequences’

McConnell’s legislative and judicial combat against campaign finance reform makes any concerns he might have about corporate influence in politics laughable.

And the notion, in general, that the Republican Party is opposed to corporate involvement in politics is, well, laughable.

Back to general hypocrisy, to quote McConnell (from a speech he gave in 2012):

“No individual or group in this country should have to face harassment or intimidation, or incur crippling expenses, defending themselves against their own government, simply because that government doesn’t like the message they’re advocating.”

In contrast with this statement from this week:

“Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order,” McConnell told a news conference in his home state of Kentucky.

Which is a threat when made by the highest ranking elected Republican in the federal government.

Look, there are a host of reasons to be concerned about corporations having oversized power in national politics. But the group that should be objecting the least are people like McConnell and his allies since they have been prime enablers of those selfsame corporate entities. Time precludes a further examination of this subject for the time being, however.

Still, these objections, such as the notion that Coca-Cola and Delta are “becom[ing] vehicles for far-left mobs” are just absurd on their face. It illustrates that these ideology-based vituperations are not based in any reality. If Coca-Cola is even “far-left” adjacent, then the term clearly has no meaning as deployed. (And that doesn’t even get into the fact that what Coca-Cola, Delta, and others are objecting to is voter suppression legislation–and if promoting democracy is “far-left” then the GOP has some soul-searching to do).

FILED UNDER: Mitch McConnell, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Republicans just don’t get it. Public-facing, consumer service or product companies, have no choice but to side with Democrats when the alternative is a white supremacist, anti-democratic, authoritarian party with terroristic tendencies. We will win 100% of these fights because the Democratic world view is one the corporations can work with, and the Trumpist world view is not.

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  2. Kathy says:

    At some point minority rule is untenable in a democracy and must be maintained by force, ergo the GOP’s turn towards autocracy.

    as I said before, many corporations are catering to the majority who is tolerant, diverse, and democratic, among other things. Naturally that’s now “far left” because it doesn’t conform to Republican minority rule.

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  3. Teve says:

    It’s unethical to spring a picture of Mitch McConnell‘s face on innocent people.

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  4. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We will win 100% of these fights because the Democratic world view is one the corporations can work with, and the Trumpist world view is not.

    Say rather that you cannot gerrymander the market. Every buyer is a buyer at-large, and if the majority buy the other guy’s product, they don’t only get 40% of the profits in spite of that.

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  5. @Michael Reynolds:

    Public-facing, consumer service or product companies, have no choice but to side with Democrats when the alternative is a white supremacist, anti-democratic, authoritarian party with terroristic tendencies. We will win 100% of these fights because the Democratic world view is one the corporations can work with, and the Trumpist world view is not.

    I would like for this to be true, but I am less sanguine on this than you are being. I think it depends on what portion of the market a particular product relies upon. It isn’t like corporations have never sided with authoritarians because they have.

    So, I would caution against unbridled optimism in this realm.

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  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Politicians are hypocrites and bears poop in the woods. McConnell is in a class of his own and would make Diogenes blush.

    Corporations will curry the favor of the market segments that are growing. Angry white baby-boomers aren’t a growing market segment.

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  7. Scott says:

    Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order

    What is not emphasized enough is that 21% of Delta’s employees are African-American. A huge proportion of MLB players are foreign born. Does anybody think that this doesn’t have an influence of corporate leadership?

    There is a lot of push from inside on top of being driven from the consumer side.

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  8. mistermix says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would like for this to be true, but I am less sanguine on this than you are being. I think it depends on what portion of the market a particular product relies upon. It isn’t like corporations have never sided with authoritarians because they have.

    I agree. Josh Marshall has a couple of very good recent pieces on this. His point is that corporations know that growth is coming from cosmopolitan/urban centers, so their profits rely on not doing things that deeply offend those populations. That said, as he points out, the preferred corporate stance would be to just stay out of politics entirely and focus on profits. Corps would naturally support Republicans because Republicans keep their taxes low, which means more profit. The Republican blunder here is to endorse policies that are so awful towards current and potential corporate customers that the corporations have no choice but to pick a side in order to maintain brand reputation.

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  9. Robert Ragland says:

    Ah, but the Republic party’s secret to threats is, never overtly threaten…just imply consequences in a passive tense, so you can deny you made threats, but just reminded the victims that the public at large or American culture or some other vague 3rd party that’s definitely not them will invoke some fall out naturally from whatever the person was being threatened about….so not so much a threat as a reminder of what will follow naturally, organically, out of common sense or the regular order of the world…purely just to look out for the victim, helping them understand the consequences that follow, purely as a service for them in case they had drifted too far off from the norm….

    But Democrats? They use veiled threats, mafia tactics, where even the most reasonable, innocent statements are taken as full on threats to the safety and well being of each person involved, or to the American way of life.

    Don’t you see the difference? Worlds apart! /s

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  10. Northerner says:

    Did the Democrats or Republicans get more from corporate donations for the 2020 election? A quick Google didn’t turn up any definitive result (perhaps it isn’t tracked?)

    I’m starting to wonder if the Democratic Party got more, spurring McConnell to lash out at corporations.

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  11. Gustopher says:

    Is this really hypocrisy? This seems somehow too shameless.

    I expect hypocrites to believe the values they profess, at least as they profess them, even if limited to other people. But at no point has McConnell shown any values, so it fells like a category error to claim hypocrisy over something where no values were betrayed.

    Is a chameleon a hypocrite when it changes color to match its surroundings for a momentary advantage?

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  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’m inclined to agree with the caution. There’s no particular evidence that consumers choose products based on the levels of support for democracy–or any other particular virtue–from the producers. Has Donald Trump switched to Diet Pepsi or Diet RC? I suspect not. Nor would left-leaning people have stopped drinking Coke or flying Delta had they supported HB202. This is just a happy confluence of the moment.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @mistermix:

    Any public-facing consumer goods or services company wants two things: growth and profit. And the two are often the same. No growing demographic is part of the Trump-GOP. Youth – what Hollywood would call the demo – is distinctly anti-Trump and pro social justice.

    The Georgia situation is much the same as that in the country at large. The non-white population is growing relative to the white population. Young voters are increasingly displacing elderly voters. More voters are becoming better-educated. The talent pool is increasingly diverse and liberal. Companies with lots of business travelers – Delta’s profit margin – are reluctant to attract Twitter fire and can easily move their traveling execs onto another airline. Delta could stand to lose partnerships with other companies. School districts can decide to cater to their own diverse populations by switching their campus vending machines from Coke’s Dasani to Pepsi’s Aquafina.

    Delta flies to and Coke sells to an international market – left-leaning Europe, and China which, IIRC, has a large Asian population. White supremacy is bad for business, and businesses are good at reading numbers.

    What all these consumer companies want is not to attract negative attention, particularly negative attention accusing them of supporting a racist party. There is no equal countervailing force on the right.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    One other point: Companies didn’t hesitate to support the left on social justice issues when Trump was there to beat them up on Twitter. Now he’s gone, Joe’s in, and we own all the best microphones, all the celebrities. You want your company denounced by George Clooney at the Oscars? Do you care if Kid Rock demurs?

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  15. Teve says:

    here are a bunch of Creative Commons-licensed turtle photos that are free to use. Some of them are quite pretty!

    I’m begging you, please use an alternate image for stories about Moscow Mitch. ANYTHING other than big closeups of his gruesome visage.

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  16. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    ANYTHING other than big closeups of his gruesome visage.

    Well, almost anything. I will not stand for desecration of the memory of Churchy LaFemme.

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  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Don’t pick sides in these big fights.

    Voter access to polls shouldn’t be a “big fight”. All Americans should be in favor of every American being able to vote. The fact that one of the two major political parties in this nation doesn’t want people to vote is the problem, not corporations.
    Having said that, I agree 100% with Mitch;

    My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics

    Corporations should be kept out of our politics.

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  18. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Remember when the religious right found out that corporations were pursuing the gay population because they actually wanted to increase their market share? Remember the screams of betrayal and anguish? Yeah, like they finally found out how capitalism really works.

    Same thing here. I’ve already sent emails to every company that is doing the right thing and saying that it’s giving me strong reason to purchase their product. Everyone should do the same thing. McConnell wouldn’t have gone so public with this if the behind-the-scenes conversations were going well.

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  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    If…and I say IF…you could get big money out of politics, you would also reap the side benefit of eliminating malevolent actors like McConnell and Gaetz and the former guy…because they are only in it for the money. Let’s make public service be about public service, again.
    I know…cray cray…

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  20. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Northerner:

    I’m doubtful that’s the instigation here. Most election cycles major corporations give generously to both sides, as they want to have strong relations with whomever wins. Some individual candidates get more than others due to their platform or personal relationships with executives, but looking across the entire political enterprise it’s pretty much a wash.

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  21. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    McConnell infuriates me like no other politician. When he chooses to, such in his floor speeches on January 6th, he can be a very eloquent speaker and defender of small-d democracy. But most of the time, he chooses to be an incredibly partisan ass who has almost single-handedly broken the Senate as a functioning institution (and thus, finished breaking Congress in general after Newt screwed up the House; and thus, finished the descent to impotence of the most important Constitutional branch).

    He has to go.

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  22. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: i read the other day, in the 70s a handful of former congressmen were registered lobbyists, and today the number is 75%. Money has only become More important.

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  23. Nightcrawler says:

    I don’t think Corporate America is filled with angels, and businesses have sided with authoritarians in the past, but it’s safe to say that, in general, unstable countries run by authoritarian governments aren’t great places to do business. That’s why multinationals tend to headquarter in Western nations instead of places like North Korea and Iran.

    Additionally, as tech companies expand out of Silicon Valley and into smaller metros like Austin, Atlanta, and Tampa, they frequently need to import top talent from other states. The local talent pools aren’t sufficient to fill high-level tech jobs. As red state governors become more authoritarian, top talent is going to balk at relocating to those areas.

    You couldn’t possibly pay me enough to move to a red state. Hell, I’d leave the country if I could.

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  24. Teve says:

    @Nightcrawler: if my career skillset and history of misdemeanors permitted it, I’d presently be sipping espresso and chatting about Italo Calvino in Rome, or Lombardy, or Tuscany, or Umbria…

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  25. charon says:

    McConnell is not an isolated case. Hugh Hewitt had an opinion piece in the Post making the same threats.

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  26. Jen says:

    This is particularly rich coming from McConnell. Republicans have benefited HUGELY from corporation-funded PACs.

    He supports corporations getting involved in political issues, he just opposes it when it’s for issues HE doesn’t like or support.

    He can sit down and STFU. I’m really tired of this nonsense.

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  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Northerner: There is so much dark money floating around that it would be impossible to tell who got what. And much of it is spent indirectly, benefitting a candidate, but not showing up in his campaign. McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund, for instance, is reported to spend huge amounts, but almost all of it running third party attack ads against the opposition. They, and McConnell affiliated American Crossroads, supposedly outspent outside groups supporting Osoff and Warnock two to one in the GA runoffs. That had to sting for McConnell, and Charles Koch.

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  28. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: I have Albert and Churchy figures on my bookshelf over my desk.

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  29. Nightcrawler says:

    @Teve:

    One of my client contacts just told me she’s moving to London because her boyfriend got a great job there.

    I’m so jealous, on multiple levels.

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  30. Teve says:

    @charon: fun trivia fact: nobody has ever seen Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager in the same room together.

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  31. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    I have Albert and Churchy figures on my bookshelf over my desk.

    I loaned my copy of Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo to my 8th-grade girlfriend. She moved away and I never saw it again. As you can see, I haven’t forgotten.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Why would anyone want to see either of them at all let alone in the same room?

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  33. Wizbang says:

    @Kathy: @Kathy: @Kathy:
    You lost me at tolerant.

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  34. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Wizbang:

    Well if it isn’t Jenos slinking back after his 39 different bans.

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  35. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Jonathan Chait makes some good points, and rubs McConnell’s face in the dirt, here:

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/04/mitch-mcconnell-and-the-agony-of-the-corporate-republican.html

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  36. de stijl says:

    Corporations employ millions of fairly decently educated and liberal-leaning employees. Retention of highly skilled and effective employees is pretty damned high up the priority scale.

    Obvious, overt political and moral alienation of a large portion of your employees is counterproductive.

    If you can switch your employer to one more amenable to your moral principles at the same pay, it wise to do so.

    I inadvertantly was a party to corps that actively created the 2008 melt-down. Mortgages and international banking.

    If you are in demand, who you choose to work for is a moral choice.

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  37. grumpy realist says:

    @Nightcrawler: If she hasn’t lived in the U.K. yet tell her that she might want to make sure she pencils in her schedule a trip somewhere south to the Mediterranean during the winter months. (But NOT Venice during November. Acqua alta.) London is north enough (and rainy enough) that the winter months can be horribly depressing. Been there, done that, worn the tee-shirt….

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  38. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    I try really hard not to be lookist, but McConnell is too turtle-esque not to comment.

    The person who bugs me most is Ken Paxton, AG of Texas. His head and face looks malformed. Play-doh face smashed in and then someone tried to make it look better in the aftermath.

    I know, lookist, I should know better and be better, but McConnell and Paxton trigger an OCD type reaction screaming your head looks unnatural.

    I worked with a consultant guy whose head was enormous. Okay person, semi-competent, too keen on pre-rendered solutions to unique problems; but I could manage around and with that, no problem.

    But his head was fucking ginormous. I was professional and courteous with him of course, but, internally, his melon disturbing my latent sense of proportion and symmetry.

    Objectively, he was kinda a blow-hard jack-ass and decidedly not worth what we were paying him. At $140 an hour I expect better. You were decidedly adequate.

    After every interaction I walked away knowing I would have handled that differently had it been anyone else. I was overcompensatingly accommodating because I was fearful that my reaction to his head size was unfairly bleeding into rational decision making.

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  39. dazedandconfused says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    The Rs suffer from a deeply ingrained sense of entitlement to power, hence the reflexive rage.
    Shedding that will require a at least a few more butt-kickings, I reckon. Long term that would be the best thing that could happen to them because that would force them to question themselves again. Currently they believe themselves absolutely right about everything. Power does that to people.

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