Amy McGrath has managed to defeat Charles Booker and will now be the one to challenge Mitch McConnell for his Senate seat in November. For people who actually believe in something, the news is rightfully disappointing, given McGrath’s ideology seems to shift according to what the polls say at any given hour. But, if you’re into that sort of thing — like Chuck Schumer clearly is, who recruited to challenge McConnell well over a year ago — then congratulations, y’all got the losing campaign you cheerleaded for.
Because let’s face it: McGrath’s campaign has looked like a loser for its entire run.
McGrath may be a former Marine fighter pilot who gained a national following after almost winning a congressional seat in the state of Kentucky back in 2018, but she sank her bid the day after she announced. In a July 2019 interview with the Louisville Courier Journal, she said she "probably" would've voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It was a surprising reversal from her stated position in 2018. And hours after that reversal, McGrath changed her mind again.
McGrath’s repeated switch in stances is not a testament to the right of one’s prerogative to change their mind; it is merely a sign of yet another empty politician who needs a focus group before making a declarative statement on policy. Brett Kavanaugh was credibly accused of sexual assault. What is there to debate here? You either believe Dr Christine Blasey Ford or you don’t. And you would vote accordingly.
What’s the point of pursuing someone with no principles to take on arguably the most craven, destructive force in American politics besides you-know-who?
As Jonathan Martin reports, Schumer’s thinking on McGrath was that, with her on the ticket, Democrats “could keep the race relatively competitive, raise a Brinks truck full of cash against the majority leader and perhaps draw some extra money for their efforts to reclaim the Senate.”
True enough, McGrath raised over $40 million — but considering that money is arguably much more about the people being anti-Moscow Mitch than pro-Amy McGrath, it’s a shame they didn’t even bother to seriously consider others.
It doesn’t seem like Schumer even bothered to look in the direction of Charles Booker, McGrath’s opponent. Was it because Booker is a Black millennial who’s for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal in the state of Kentucky? That’s the problem with the Democratic Party: they presume the worst of the electorate based on antiquated thinking. They’re all so terrified of Ronald Reagan’s win in 1980. I wasn’t even alive in 1980.
I wish the Democrats would adapt with the rest of us.
It’s worth pointing out that despite McGrath’s name recognition and millions in campaign funds, Booker’s relatively late challenge to her nearly succeeded. McGrath won thanks to having a leg-up in absentee ballots sent before Booker’s rise in the primary — and state voter suppression tactics in heavily Black-populated cities like Louisville probably helped.
Charles Booker should never have been considered an afterthought given what he accomplished in such a short amount of time. It should not have taken the protests stemming from the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville by local police officers and the separate killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis to get white Americans — including white Kentuckians — to pay closer attention to men who look and talk like Charles Booker and me. But that’s how it happened, and what do you know, they seemed to like him just fine.
Yes, Booker might have had his work cut out for him in toppling Mitch McConnell, but so would any challenger. The notion that someone like Amy McGrath — a white moderate willing to say ridiculous things like “pro-Trump Democrat” without irony — has more political viability than a man like Charles Booker is rooted in the sort of inherent biases that Democrats need to learn to let go of. Again, look at how much he accomplished so soon. Now consider what a stupid gamble the Democrats made.
With Booker, they could have rallied behind a candidate who spoke with conviction about his values — chief among them, the idea that poverty is the failure of government and society, not the individual. And that Black people deserve justice and our fair share. Instead, they wanted Amy McGrath. She checked off the right boxes on a presumed vanity bid.
The Democrats got the loser for the losing campaign they envisioned. Let’s see how well that works out for them. In the meanwhile, let us hope that Charles Booker will challenge Rand Paul in 2022.