As targets of probably the costliest U.S. Senate race ever, Kentuckians should do themselves — and the country — a favor by electing Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Grimes has tirelessly reached out to every corner of the state. She has shown that, as the Senate's first Kentucky woman, she would bring energy, focus and independence to helping build a more secure future for Kentuckians and other average Americans.
But, wait, you say: How can our poor state afford to give up the power that Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has amassed in 30 years in Washington, especially if Republicans take the Senate, making him the majority leader?
McConnell does have power. He commands a perpetual-motion money machine; dollars flow in, favors flow out.
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The problem is how McConnell uses his power. He has repeatedly hurt the country to advance his political strategy.
McConnell has sabotaged jobs and transportation bills, even as Kentucky's unemployment exceeds the nation's and an Interstate 75 bridge crumbles over the Ohio River. He blocked tax credits for companies that move jobs back to this country while preserving breaks for those that move jobs overseas. He opposed extending unemployment benefits, while bemoaning the "jobless" recovery. He brags about resolving crises that he helped create.
The Senate may never recover from the bitter paralysis McConnell has inflicted through record filibusters that allow his minority to rule by obstruction.
Even before Barack Obama was sworn in, McConnell told his fellow Republicans that their strategy was to deny the new president any big wins. The country was in two wars and at deep risk of sliding into a depression, but making an adversary look bad was McConnell's main mission.
His signature cause — flooding elections with ever more money — corrupts. He poses as a champion of the right to criticize the government, but it's really his rich buddies' right to buy the government that he champions.
If McConnell had a better record, he would not have to argue for six more years by obsessively linking Grimes to Obama, who will be gone in two years no matter what.
McConnell, 72, insists that Grimes would be a partisan puppet, unable to think for herself or steer an independent course. Grimes, 35, a state official for three years, is as qualified as McConnell was when he pulled an upset in 1984. Win this and she's a rising star, commanding respect and attention. She's already formed alliances with Senate women and would be part of a women's caucus that is the most effective bipartisan force in Congress today.
Grimes has emerged as an authentic voice for pro-business Kentucky Democrats. She staunchly defends the coal industry and gun rights. She also recognizes there's no prosperity when working people can't live on their pay. She supports a minimum wage increase, lower student loan rates, child care, equal rights for women and gays, and letting immigrants earn citizenship.
McConnell opposes a minimum wage increase and refinancing student loans. He has said that discrimination against women is no longer a problem; he's fine with discriminating against gays. He undermined immigration reform this year even as Kentucky farms struggle to find workers.
And McConnell is pushing two outlandish deceptions:
■ This election's outcome can reverse coal's decline in Eastern Kentucky. McConnell harps on 7,000 coal jobs lost under Obama. But what of the 20,000 coal jobs lost in his first 24 years in Washington? Why has he offered no plan for this inevitable economic transition, even now? Grimes pledges support for economic diversification and benefits for sick miners.
■ You can keep Kynect while he repeals the Affordable Care Act. Reality: If McConnell has his way, a half-million Kentuckians will lose access to health care and the state will lose a chance to tackle costly ills like addiction, diabetes and cancer.
Kentuckians can't do much to stop a Supreme Court majority that's enabling the corrosion of our democracy by unlimited, secret contributions, in court cases bearing McConnell's stamp.
Kentuckians can send a powerful message on Nov. 4 and carve out a better future by retiring McConnell and making Grimes their senator.