When the dust of the government shutdown fight settled, pundits were quick to divide Democrats and Republicans into winners and losers. Discussion circled around political spin, capital and motives.
Forgotten in the chatter, however, were the men, women and children of Kentucky who paid the real price for Congress's manufactured crisis.
From the thousands of furloughed employees at Forts Knox and Campbell, to the small businesses that were unable to open their doors and Louisville flood victims left with no relief, the reckless government shutdown devastated Kentucky families and our economy. The financial impact has been staggering, including an estimated $2.4 billion in lost travel spending and $450,000 a day in lost revenue from our national parks.
During the days of the crisis, Sen. Mitch McConnell voiced support for the foolish shutdown plan that caused real pain for people across the country. McConnell called the plan to shut down the government "reasonable," and day after day he went to the Senate floor to defend the shutdown strategy. McConnell should be held responsible for the billions that were lost and the millions of people who were hurt.
McConnell's last-minute efforts to end the shutdown do not change the fact that he caused it. The final deal was nearly identical to what McConnell could have endorsed weeks earlier, but he decided to do what he thought was best for himself politically — no matter the consequences for Kentuckians.
McConnell continues to pat himself on the back for finally "doing his job," when in fact, he simply kicked the can farther down the road, costing our economy $24 billion in the process. Real leadership would have prevented the shutdown in the first place. Like an arsonist congratulating himself for putting out the fire he helped start, McConnell did not solve the problem. He created it.
Since launching my campaign for U.S. Senate, I have been meeting with Kentuckians across the commonwealth. The one common theme I have heard is that folks are deeply frustrated with the disease of dysfunction in Washington.
They are tired of their senior senator whose main concern is self-preservation. They are tired of their senior senator who sides with special interests rather than the middle-class families back home. And they are tired of their senior senator who has left Kentucky in the lurch.
As the most vulnerable Washington politician in the country, McConnell is desperately scrambling to save the one job he cares about — his own. Unfortunately, his millions will not be enough to distract Kentuckians from his dismal 30-year Washington voting record.
Kentucky deserves better representation in the Senate. McConnell's political tap dancing from one self-inflicted crisis to another will not receive a passing grade from Kentucky voters next November.
Alison Lundergan Grimes of Lexington is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.