Mitch McConnell’s Holiday Email to His Colleagues, Ghostwritten by George Saunders

DATE: 2017-07-04

TO: Staff (R)

FROM: Mitch

SUBJECT: A reminder

When we met almost nine years ago, we agreed that we had a job to do, and we agreed to do that job whenever necessary. And now has come the time to do it. The job, that is.

One of the bits of feedback you’ve submitted (no shortage of feedback on this one, to be sure, ha ha) is that this job is not quite what you thought it would be. Some of you have said that, in fact, the reported numbers make this latest aspect of the job one of the worst that you have ever seen, and in no uncertain terms you have voiced your displeasure if you were to be “heavily coerced” into doing this job. Now I’m not saying that that would even happen, nor have I ever said that. But it seems that there’s a notion going around that two brothers from Kansas may phone in a favor and gauge your interest in no longer having healthy knee caps, politically-speaking. I think we all know this is not the case, yet the slightest semblance of a hint that such coercion might be even considered in this situation is causing at least one of you to—pardon the language—shit your suit. And I think I speak for us all (not to mention the congressional janitorial staff!) when I say it’d be preferable if all our collective suits, to borrow a phrase, remain shit-free.

So let me say this: The job may not be as bad as you think. Which, okay, I know. You’re thinking, Mitch, my man, this is what you always say. And it’s true: I do have a stubborn streak when facing tough situations, just ask my dermatologist, ha ha.

Here’s a question, though: Has it really been that bad?

When I first gathered us in 2009 and said what our job would be, I distinctly remember hearing the complaints that doing nothing day after day, month after month would be an impossible task. I remember, even, some audible gasps out of Jeff from Alabama on this very point (although to be fair that also happened when he heard about the plot of Precious). But was this job hard? Not at all! In fact, as far as jobs go, it was a pretty cushy gig. And in fact it only became easier when we had even more of our friends join us after just a couple years of doing nothing. Doing nothing, it turned out, was actually something that—once we put our mind to it!—we were pretty good at.

Now some of you objected when, in 2012, we found out that the entire job—which was easy but, I’ll admit, also kind of ennui-inducing on a persistent basis—was done in vain. And while I know that I have quite the poker face, a face that some across the aisle have, apparently, claimed looks like the face of a man who realizes he is perpetually on the verge of climaxing in his pants, a face that never changes and wouldn’t betray the slightest emotion even in a trying time such as this…my friends, I was disheartened. We had worked so hard at doing nothing, and yet it seemed like it was all for, well, naught.

And yet! Despite this setback, did we stop going? It would have been very easy to do so then, and I remember drawing a line in the, well, carpet, as it were, and then proclaiming, This Is It and offering each of you the chance to pack your proverbial bags and go to the train station. And collectively—and I remember I was so proud (!)—you told me that you simply could not take a train at that hour, which I took not as a referendum on WMATA’s strangely limited operating hours but rather your symbolic commitment to our shared goal. At which point I became, in some sense, re-heartened.

Because that day we realized that the only way to potentially accomplish the initial job that we had set out to do was to keep going. That if we hesitated for even a second in the pursuit of this job any of our modest gains would be threatened. Even wiped out.

And this realization was scary. It was, in fact, frightening for all of us except Ted, but we all know that—no offense to him—Ted’s not exactly one that you can count on for an accurate temperature check, emotion-wise. But we had now gone into this unknown, and the only job left was the original job that we had set out to do. Which was pretty circular logic, unfortunately, and kind of made us question what was the point of doing the job in the first place? Yet there we were, pursuing the job.

But then: Good news. While our initial attempt at completing the job was unsuccessful, the subject of our job (You-Know-Who) saw his approval rating keep fading and fading. And while we weren’t popular, we were at least not the direct target of the Others at the voting booth. Better yet, in 2014 the Others somehow wanted more of us in office. Which was great, because of strength in numbers, and we could pass Ted off to the new members and let him accost them. (The people, that is. Not their members. Clarifying so that Mike doesn’t email me later.)

And 2016 made our job even easier. Impossibly easy. Which is why I am writing today in a somewhat confused state of mind, because, well: We have already done the hardest part of our job.

Allow me to explain by way of metaphor: These past few years have been a long swimming lesson for us. Our job, in some ways, has been to become swimmers. Like all swimmers, we have first learned how to tread water—quite effectively (!)—during this time. And some may say that treading water is simply a fancy way of doing nothing and going nowhere, but they are wrong. Treading water is going nowhere but not drowning. It is a miraculous achievement. Much harder than actually swimming, but necessary to swimming. Many of the greatest swimmers, in fact, started off by learning how to tread water and, subsequently, found swimming much easier than treading water. Michael Phelps. Newt Gingrich, to hammer home the metaphor (he, of course, literally can’t swim). But in truth: The list goes on.

And now, by way of treading this water and not drowning for eight straight years, we have set ourselves up for swimming greatness. To swim, all we have left to do is simply say yes—“Yea” —one time. Perhaps some Others may be hurt as a result of this “Yea.” But do you know for a fact that these Others are not being hurt right now? Do you know, down to the individual, that no one is being harmed as we delay our declaration of that final “Yea”?

I say this with great respect: I highly doubt it.

But I will also say this: We are where we are now because of our work on this job, and now is the chance to complete that job. Doesn’t that sound good? You are lying to yourself if that offer doesn’t sound enticing, like a thorough back scratch or massage after you have been sitting stationary in an ergonomically poor chair for eight straight years. I hope that you all think about that during the recess. Think about how good it will be to finally say “Yea,” to have the chance to lie down and relax and loosen up your back, to finish off this massage in the happiest way possible (sorry, Mike) which will ensure no more sore backs, ever, for always.

Well, I have gone on and on, but please come by my office after the recess, anybody who’s having doubts about this job, or this massage (!), and I will show you my very clean suits that are as clean as my conscience, as clean as I hope your suits are, too, currently. And of course any doubts you have about this job, and how it may impact the Others, are of the utmost concern, but they won’t be repeated outside of my office, and certainly not to those brothers from Kansas.

Happy 4th of July.