The role of the Senate minority leader requires a master tactician when the chamber is in session and a charismatic strategist when an election is on the line. Mitch McConnell is only one of these things and not the one his party desperately needs over the next six months. He has already announced his intention to step down from leadership but not until after November’s vote, leaving Republicans undermanned in the campaign underway. Whatever their sense of loyalty, their chances will be better if they replace him now.

The problem is one of both style and substance. The 81-year-old’s health problems and lapses during public appearances would make him an ineffective spokesman in any cycle, let alone one where Republicans seek to make President Joe Biden’s similar issues a major liability. But even were he at the peak of his powers, McConnell’s core beliefs would still preclude him from effectively supporting his side.

On policy, he is badly misaligned with the GOP and its standard bearer. His attempt to foist a badly negotiated non-solution to the border crisis on his caucus was a disaster and just one example of how his enthusiasm for the uniparty’s open-ended funding of Ukraine outpaced his interest in his own party’s priorities. He simply does not agree with Donald Trump on the issues likely to animate the campaign. He is a free trader who cannot make the case for tariffs. He is weak on immigration, allied with big business, and expansive in his vision for the nation’s foreign policy commitments.

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Oren Cass
Oren Cass is the executive director at American Compass.
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