McConnell’s hands are not the problem; his evil is

Mitch McConnell, Kentucky senator and Senate majority leader, is a soulless, morally corrupt villain, deserving of every single mote of political vitriol and criticism that has come his way following his decision to block voting on a bill that would have given Americans a $2,000 stimulus check. His asinine remark that the effort to increase relief funds is “socialism for the rich people” is indicative of not only his own stupidity, but also his absolute detachment from the material conditions of the majority of Americans who are far from rich but would greatly benefit from the extra money. 

That being said, much of the criticism directed towards him that I have seen on social media has extended into territory beyond his violent political beliefs. Particularly irking are the comments that poke fun at his hands, which are extremely discolored. I admit that upon first seeing photos of them for the first time, I was somewhat taken aback by the jarring blackening. I have never seen hands like that, so I looked into what condition would cause such a thing. 

In seeking an answer, I even came across a Saturday Night Live clip that flashed a picture of his face and hands, remarking that it seemed they had been taken “after (h)im physically fighting with death.” The same clip also informed me that McConnell has declined to provide a clear explanation for why his hands look the way they do. 

I understand that politicians, who have a responsibility to the public, are commonly expected to disclose information about their health to a higher degree than that of other people. This makes sense to me, given that one’s overall well-being and proximity to death may influence their ability to serve their constituents, as well as the likeliness of voters to support them for a variety of reasons. 

Still, these comments about his hands have made me uncomfortable for two reasons. For one, consider that his appearance is evidence of his old age. There is an argument to be made against putting the elderly in charge of making major political decisions for the entire country, considering that they themselves will not live to experience the negative repercussions of their choices; this I will not reject. What concerns me is rather that when one chooses to make fun of an old man for his aging hands, it sends a message to all other elderly folks that they should be ashamed of their aging bodies too. Would you make fun of your grandmother’s liver spots and thinning hair, or your grandfather’s sagging eyelids and spider veins? My guess is that the answer is no. 

You might object that your elderly loved one’s do not deserve to be ridiculed, whereas McConnell does — that may be true, but how can you express disgust towards a particular politician’s physical condition and expect the elders in your life to believe that this disgust could not possibly also apply to them? 

Have you considered the potential that your hands could some day look just like his?

The fear and stigma of aging, a natural physiological process every single one of us will experience, has created a culture of denying the reality that life entails death. This results in widespread existential dread and the generation of a whole slew of “fixes” such as botox, anti-aging cosmetics and so on — not political change. Harmful attitudes towards aging make many elderly people feel insecure for going through something that is as natural as anything could possibly be. 

Moreover, avoiding showing physical signs of aging is often only an option for the wealthy, who can afford expensive cosmetic procedures, regular hair color maintenance, effective healthcare and other means of preserving the appearance of youth. 

It may also be noted that McConnell is 78 years old, making him a year younger than Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. I am willing to wager that most of the liberals poking fun at McConnell’s hands would condemn the very same sort of comments they are making, were it Sanders’ hands that looked discolored. I am sure I would see arguments on social media that his hands should not be our focus, but rather his democratic socialist beliefs — although I strongly favor Sanders, this hypocritical attitude should be acknowledged. 

Making fun of McConnell’s bruised hands is neither moral nor productive nor necessary. It is petty, callous towards the elderly and derails political discourse from what actually matters. 

The second reason I do not appreciate these comments is that there is SO much else for which we could ridicule McConnell. 

Let’s make fun of how his home was recently vandalized, his front door reading “Mitch kills poor,” reflecting the factual truth that his conservative politics are violently classist. Let’s make fun of the evident fact that he has worms for brains, shown by how he actually believes that $2,000 stimulus checks are not feasible in a country that somehow can justify a downright extravagant military budget, as well as tax exemptions for billionaires and corporations. Let’s make fun of his 18% approval rating. 

McConnell will go down in history as a corrupt, lily-livered Republican loser whose morals and ideals so easily crumbled under the pressure to appease and enable the will of one of the most outrageously idiotic presidents in recent American history — let that speak for itself, and leave his hands out of it.