Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is entirely against passing legislation to protect voting rights and access to the ballot box. That’s not new. After he went viral yesterday for comparing “African-American voters” and “American voters” in a way that seemed to exclude the former group from the latter, it quickly became clear that the rhetoric he’s using isn’t new to him, either.
Yesterday a clip of McConnell declaring that “African-American voters” turn out at the polls at the same rate as “American voters went viral. In addition to being worded in a way that suggests bias on McConnell’s part, the claim was also blatantly false, since voters from typically marginalized groups actually are documented to vote at lower rates than white voters. Too, of course, it dodges the actual issue of new laws being passed that actively suppress the votes of targeted groups.
The other thing that came out of McConnell’s speech, though, was the reminder that he’s used similar rhetoric before, claiming that the election of a Black Senator was proof that Black voters have enough access to the polls.
Mitch McConnell once suggested that the election of “African-American Republican” Tim Scott is proof that additional voter protections are not needed in this country. pic.twitter.com/xhB68MrTy6
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) January 21, 2022
…there are more African-American elected officials in Mississippi today than in any other state in America. Tim Scott [of South Carolina], African-American Republican was elected to the US House…
This comes from a 2015 conversation with The Aspen Institute. For a little more context, the video below should start at about the 15:30 mark — if it doesn’t, feel free to skip there for the relevant portion of the conversation.
McConnell is being asked about Republicans fighting to stop voting rights legislation, ten years after unanimous bipartisan support for the same. He rambles off into his history as a Congressional intern, then moves into the reasons that he doesn’t see a need any longer.
These include that photo ID is required for other things in life, such as cashing checks and boarding airplanes, that Mississippi has a lot of Black elected officials, and that Tim Scott was elected.
That’s not all, either — he goes on to try to further prove his point by discussing people who are locked up in Kentucky for voter fraud “in the eastern part of the state where there are virtually no African-Americans.”
Later in the conversation (about the 47-minute mark), he’s asked about the way the “Republican brand” is viewed, particularly in African-American communities, and responds:
..even before the president’s [Barack Obama at the time] rise we were getting blown out by African-American voters and we still are. I wish it were otherwise, but there are some very impressive African-American Republicans including senator Tim Scott of South Carolina…
There’s that quiet part out loud again, Senator.
You can also check out the moment about 43 minutes in, where McConnell discusses the shift in voting demographics and declares his pride in getting the support of white voters:
America is certainly changing. I believe it’s the case that when Ronald Reagan was elected, eighty-four percent of American voters were white. I think I read the other day that in twenty-sixteen, seventy percent probably will be white. My party does really good with white people and I’m proud of that…
Takeaways from McConnell’s answers: he is aware of the existence and name of at least one Black Republican elected official, recognizes that Black voters statistically are less likely to support his party, and is absolutely certain that enough of them are voting and no protections should be put in place to keep frequently-marginalized groups being disenfranchised.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com