Late last year (12/19/2019), Mark Galli, the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, published an editorial which called for President Trump to be removed from office.
“The facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents [Joe Biden],” Galli wrote. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
“The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals,” Galli wrote. “He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationships with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”
Galli, who retired in January, said he did not expect his editorial to change many minds, especially among white evangelicals. Speaking to CNN’s John Berman, Galli said, “I don’t have any imaginations that my editorial is going to shift their views on this matter.”
Like Mark Galli, I do not imagine that my words will change many minds or shift people’s views about President Trump — or Senator Mitch McConnell.
According to Wikipedia: “Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values. It is an important type of cognitive bias that has a significant effect on the proper functioning of society by distorting evidence-based decision-making. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. For example, a person may cherry-pick empirical data that supports one’s belief, ignoring the remainder of the data that is not supportive. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. The effect is strongest for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs.”
Confirmation bias is very powerful, but it is not omnipotent. In Inverse (8/15/2020), “How to win arguments and actually change someone’s mind,” Ali Pattillo writes: “At work, and in life, it can be maddening to try to change someone’s mind. That’s because people’s beliefs and opinions, while often rooted in logic and fact, are still wrapped in emotion.”
Jonah Berger is a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.” Berger studies how beliefs catch on, stick long term, and how to change them.
To become a better catalyst for change, Berger suggests we highlight a gap between their attitudes and their actions, and then get them to persuade themselves.
Second, provide a “menu” of choices. Rather than force a single solution on others, give people the freedom and autonomy to choose from a few options. This reduces people’s gut resistance, and helps them persuade themselves.
Finally, cut through perceived risks. If people feel like a new idea is controversial or risky, explain your personal experience as to why you think it is more relatable and less extreme than they think.
Which brings us back to Senator McConnell—
In 2016, a vote for Donald Trump was a vote against Hillary Clinton and the status quo. Many people were fed up with the Clintons. Why not give the reality TV star a chance?
Similarly, a vote for Amy McGrath is a vote against Mitch McConnell and the status quo. Why not give the former Marine combat pilot a chance?
Here in Kentucky, McConnell is less popular than Trump. So McConnell’s campaign is mirroring Trump’s — attacking McGrath and Democrats for being too liberal.
Why doesn’t McConnell run on his record? After 36 years in the Senate, he must have done something he is proud of, right?
In August 2019, the House voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. Republicans branded it a jobs-killer, and McConnell refused a vote on the bill in the Senate. At least 20 times, McConnell has declined to raise the federal minimum wage.
According to proponents of the Raise the Wage Act: “Gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 would directly lift the wages of 22.5 million workers. On average, these low-wage workers would receive a $3.10 increase in their hourly wage, in today’s dollars. For a directly affected worker who works all year, that translates into a $5,100 increase in annual wage income, a raise of 31.3%. Another 19 million workers would benefit from a spillover effect as employers raise wages of workers making more than $15 in order to attract and retain their workforces.”
Thanks largely to McConnell, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009, the longest time ever without an increase.
According to Newsweek (7/29/2017), “GOP aims to kill Obamacare yet again after failing 70 times,” by Chris Riotta, there have been “at least 70 Republican-led attempts to repeal, modify or otherwise curb the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since its inception as law on March 23, 2010.” Repealing the ACA would cause millions of Americans to lose access to healthcare. In Kentucky alone, 486,000 fewer people would have health insurance if the ACA is repealed.
McConnell supported three major tax bills that have ballooned the national debt. President Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986 reduced the top tax rate for millionaires and billionaires. McConnell also supported President George W. Bush’s major tax bills in 2001 and 2003, squandering the projected budget surplus Bush 43 inherited from President Clinton. In 2017, McConnell was instrumental in passing yet another Republican tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that mainly benefits the super-rich and major corporations.
McConnell and Republicans promised their tax cuts would pay for themselves by stimulating the economy. They did not pay for themselves. The rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and the national debt has skyrocketed from $1.5 trillion in 1985 when McConnell joined the Senate to more than $28 trillion today.
The budget deficit has increased 77% since McConnell became majority leader in 2015. McConnell’s only solution is to cut popular programs like Social Security and Medicare.
In Newsweek (10/16/2018), “Mitch McConnell Calls for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid Cuts After Passing Tax Cuts, Massive Defense Spending,” Nicole Goodkind reports: “After instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and signing off on a $675 billion budget for the Department of Defense, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
McConnell was worth $3.1 million in 2004. His net worth is now estimated at more than $34 million, a tenfold increase in 16 years. His salary as Senate Majority Leader is $193,400 a year. But McConnell believes millions of hardworking Americans deserve no more than $7.25 an hour.
He makes vague boasts about how much he has helped Kentucky, but after 36 years of McConnell in the Senate, Kentucky is listed as the 46th poorest state in the nation, with a poverty rate of 16.9% (numbers before novel coronavirus).
Kentucky and America deserve better than McConnell. 36 years is long enough.
Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.