How Mitch McConnell Has Changed As A Politician

Mitch McConnell is often thought of as the most powerful man in the Senate and even the most powerful man in Washington, D.C. He has maintained this image despite him losing his majority leader title and status after the January 5, 2021 runoff election in Georgia that brought two more Democrats into the nation's most deliberative body, making it a 50-50 Senate and costing the Republicans the majority, given that Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris could break tying votes.

Even more than half a year into Joe Biden's presidency as of this writing, McConnell's presence still looms as he threatens to derail legislation by using the filibuster and to stop Senate business altogether if the Democrats eliminate the filibuster (via The Associated Press). But McConnell wasn't always this powerful. After all, he was once a freshman senator himself way back in 1984 when he was first elected to his seat representing the state of Kentucky, but even without power, his political philosophies were markedly different from what they are now, according to Biography.

Mitch McConnell once held more Democratic ideals

When Mitch McConnell was first elected to public office in 1977 as a judge-executive in Jefferson County, Kentucky, he believed in collective bargaining rights for public employees, and ran on that in 1984. Historically, the Republican party has worked against worker rights (via The Washington Post).

According to Politico, as a young man in the 1960s, McConnell even urged his college classmates to march for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. In addition, in his first elected position he also backed campaign finance reform, but that changed once he got to the Senate and realized backing such things wasn't advantageous when seeking power in the Republican party in Washington. By the time he became the Republican leader in the Senate in 2006 and Barack Obama became president in 2008, McConnell had completely transformed into an obstructionist determined to make sure the Senate never got anything done under a Democratic president due to the filibuster that requires 60 votes to move most legislation.

Now that he is minority leader again, McConnell has admitted that it's back to obstruction again. "One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration," McConnell said in May 2021 (via Vox). To his credit, McConnell did vote for President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill (via NPR), but that bill is not yet law until the Democrats in the Senate and the Democrats in the House come to an agreement as to exactly what's in it.