When I came of age politically in the mid-1970s, the nation was recovering from the Watergate scandal that shook confidence in our constitutional system of government.

Fortunately, some key Republican Members of Congress put our country above their party.

Republican Senator Howard Baker (Tennessee) and House Members Lawrence Hogan (Maryland), Hamilton Fish (New York) and William Cohen (Maine) considered the incriminating evidence against then-President Nixon and called for Nixon’s impeachment.

The integrity and political courage of these Republicans 46 years ago helped save our constitutional democracy — and the Republican Party itself.

When I first ran for Congress in 1978, the integrity of these Republicans in Congress reinforced my own decision to run as a Republican, as I always believed in key Republican principles such as fiscal responsibility, free trade, the rule of law, states’ rights, family values, individual rights, environmental protection.

When I was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1980, I set about to put these Republican principles into action.

While I had no experience in government, I knew the difference between right and wrong.

Today’s Republican Senators do not. They have sold their souls.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the poster child for the corruption, abuse of power and self-interested attitude that characterize today’s Republicans.

For McConnell, money talks.

He spends his waking hours figuring out how to shovel money from well-connected lobbyists to further enrich his campaign coffers, saying that what you need to succeed in politics is “money, money, money.”

I am also offended that McConnell has continuously blocked virtually all legislation that would benefit America, from gun safety to environmental protection, from ethics reform to government accountability.

However, what offends me the most is McConnell’s ruthless opposition to affordable  healthcare for adults and children alike at least a dozen times in the past ten years.

Thankfully, in 2017, McConnell failed to kill the Affordable Care Act in the Senate despite his determined efforts.

Today, more than 83,000 Kentuckyians rely on ACA for healthcare coverage, and average monthly national premium costs went down about four percent this year!

Yet McConnell still wants to rob people of the emotional and financial security the ACA provides. Nor does he care for those who lose their jobs with employer-provided health benefits during this economic crisis.

McConnell supports Trump’s Supreme Court case to kill ACA, along with its critical protections against pre-existing conditions. A decision on the Trump case to kill ACA is due after the election, so voter beware!

McConnell also defends negligence in the federal government’s handling of the covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 125,000 Americans.

Principles?

McConnell was silent when news broke that Russia was paying bounties to Afghan Taliban fighters to hunt and kill American soldiers!

Was McConnell waiting for his “talking points” from Donald Trump?

In his role as Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell should be defending America’s national security, American soldiers’ lives and Kentucky’s interests.

Instead, he is too busy making excuses for Trump and voting for Trump’s agenda 94.2% of the time.

Where did Mitch McConnell’s integrity go?

As a member of Republicans for Integrity, I long for a return to the days when Republicans put country over party, defending our nation against threats to our constitutional democracy, whether these threats come from the president or from foreign nations — or both.

The Republican Party will need to live in the electoral wilderness until its leaders can regain integrity and return to the principles that attracted so many of us to the party in years past.

CLAUDINE SCHNEIDER is a Republican former United States Congresswoman and is a founding member of Republicans for Integrity which brings together Republican former Members of Congress who put “country before party.” She works with various national, non-partisan, watchdog organizations and is one of the founding members of www.VoteSmart.org.

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