Since his election to the Senate in 1984, Mitch McConnell has been the bête noir of Kentucky progressives.  Like Halley’s comet, the slogan “Ditch Mitch” has appeared again and again, and McConnell’s adversaries have made a recurring cathartic ritual of venting hatred upon him.  Time after time, Mitch has come out on top, forcing even his foes to concede his skill at organizing political machinery.

As of this writing Mitch contends with attorney Alison Grimes—Kentucky secretary of state and daughter of Democratic Party stalwart Jerry Lundergan.  No amateur, Grimes has wisely distanced herself from the current U.S. president; in lieu of cosmopolitan radicalism, we are offered a true bluegrass girl next door, cute as Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.  Alison shoots guns, is a friend of coal, and just loves those sleek Kentucky thoroughbreds.  Y’all get out and vote for her, y’hear?

To understand the Grimes campaign we must remember that Kentucky isn’t, say, New England, where Democrats can openly trumpet their project of transforming mankind beyond recognition.  Here she has to pass herself off as quasiconservative.  Here the party needs collaborators who can appeal to farmers, to truck drivers, to people with no more use for the principled enemy of their religion, traditions, and roots than they have for the Wall Street financier.  Hence Democratic elites present a down-home wholesome façade, even as their party leadership searches feverishly for exciting new ways to saturate public spaces with posthuman ideology.

To be sure, the left’s seething hostility toward McConnell is every bit as absurd as Grimes’ attempt to pass for a sane human being, given that those bent on trashing what remains of Christendom owe the senator an incalculable debt.  After all, without conservative establishmentarians to soak up enormous quantities of time, money, and energy over the years, resources might instead have gone toward shielding communities from liberalism, strengthening local networks of kin and friends—maybe even mobilizing meaningful resistance.  We have come a long way since 1984, when anyone warning that bakers might someday be shut down for refusing to bake queer wedding cakes would have been mocked as a right-wing paranoiac.

Particularly illustrative is the furor surrounding McConnell’s wife, former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who according to some Grimes supporters may have influenced McConnell’s attitude toward the Chinese government, particularly with regard to trade.  When insinuations arose regarding McConnell’s loyalties, Team Mitch predictably cried racism, thereby reinforcing my pet theory that racist in elitespeak is actually synonymous with rational (as in, “It is racist to suggest that someone whose wife has Chinese origins might have a special interest in China”).

The stupidity of Republican attempts to play the race card is not the point, however.  What is more interesting is the fact that Grimes espouses (albeit quietly) her party’s line on immigration, because this fact highlights how preposterous it is to complain about McConnell’s real or imagined role in shipping jobs overseas.  Export a thousand jobs to China, import a thousand Mexicans here—what’s the difference?  That the Chinamen don’t have to take a test and fill out some paperwork?  Perhaps Congress could pass a law naturalizing everybody in Beijing—we could call it Expat Reform.

Sooner or later, all pressing controversies get entangled with the meaning—or lack thereof—of citizenship.  U.S. citizenship now signifies about as much as membership on a professional sports team.  It is a purely abstract, mercenary contract covered by a thin veneer of flamboyant symbolism.  Ideally, a more particular, regional identity might fill the void, but I don’t see the localist movement generating any challenge to liberalism anytime soon.  Whatever local sentiment exists here revolves around the battle over mountaintop removal, a battle that has little if anything to do with patriotism: One side insists that the hipsters, Muslims, and tattooed lesbians taking over Kentucky need a robust economy, while the other points out that said hipsters and Muslims and lesbians will need a long-term supply of fresh air and clean water.

“When ills are recognized in advance (and only the prudent can do this), they are quickly cured,” Machiavelli tells us.  “But when, having gone unrecognized, they are allowed to increase until everyone may recognize them, then remedy is no longer possible.”  The task of McConnell and Grimes is to ensure that our ongoing deconstruction goes unrecognized.  Those of us loyal to God and our forebears will find no remedy until we face this hard reality, and learn to think outside the ballot box.