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How Trump’s Enablers Are Making Authoritarian Rule More Likely

Mitch McConnell’s real legacy? He consistently enabled Trump and MAGA for years—then failed to act against Trump when it really could have counted.

Trump and McConnell at the White House
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Trump and McConnell at the White House in 2017

The news that Mitch McConnell will step down as GOP Senate leader later this year has led many to argue that he was fundamentally a foe of Donald Trump who is out of step with the party of MAGA. But the story is more complicated than that: In crucial ways, McConnell’s own career trajectory helped bring about the descent of our politics into its current disastrous mess. We chatted with congressional scholar Norman Ornstein, who was among the first to identify McConnell as key to the GOP slide into dysfunction and extremism. He helped us assess McConnell’s real legacy. It isn’t pretty.