Politics Why the Democrats need Joe Manchin
Manchin's homegrown bipartisanship comes up against a changing world
When Joe Manchin was in the fight of his political life, vying for reelection in a state where being a Democrat had long been out of fashion, the senator's opening message to voters focused on the place he knew best: Farmington, West Virginia. © Maddie McGarvey for CNN Michael Angelucci, former state delegate, and Donna Costello, former mayor of Farmington.
Arguably, one of the most powerful men in Washington is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He is the moderate, centrist swing-decision-maker in the Senate, where President Biden's legislative agenda is contingent upon his vote.
Democrats received a big win in March with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passage. They know Biden is trying to move a progressive agenda through , and , but they still need Congress to pass significant legislation. And that's not happening, thanks in part to Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and other moderates in the Senate.
The Democratic Senators Hiding Behind Joe Manchin
It was March 5, right before the Senate’s doomed vote to raise the minimum wage to $15, and, as usual, Sen. Joe Manchin was the center of attention. But there was no need for reporters to swarm the West Virginia moderate. On that day, he was far from the only Democrat who’d give the thumbs-down to a progressive priority. Seven other Democratic senators would vote the same way—and draw far less recognition or criticism. That tally surprisedBut there was no need for reporters to swarm the West Virginia moderate. On that day, he was far from the only Democrat who’d give the thumbs-down to a progressive priority. Seven other Democratic senators would vote the same way—and draw far less recognition or criticism.
Such major legislative agenda championed by the Democrats include: D.C. statehood, which is ; is nowhere; the bipartisan Jan. 6 commission bill was ; gun control . The American Families Plan . The American Jobs Plan may not fare as badly, but it . You can probably forget about a significant , although the White House and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are pushing hard on a "." And most recently, progressives grew more furious about Manchin's not to support the Democrats' election reform bill known as the "For the People Act."
The attacks from liberals have been swift and breviloquent on Twitter and news channels. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) that the Senator's op-ed should have been entitled, "Why I'll vote to preserve Jim Crow." Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) the "new Mitch McConnell." Additionally, Rev. William Barber, a religious progressive and leader of the Poor People's Campaign, is organizing a "" in West Virginia.
Manchin's staunch opposition to ending filibuster may imperil Biden's agenda, including infrastructure
Manchin dashed hopes on the left that recent events might compel him to reconsider his support for keeping the Senate's 60-vote rule to pass bills.The moderate Democrat, in a Sunday op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, not only revealed his opposition to the Democratic-backed For the People Act but reiterated he won't vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.
While some of the attacks of Manchin are extreme in rhetoric, they are also justified. After all, Manchin has boxed himself in by saying too bluntly what he will and won't do; thus, giving his leverage away, not preserving it. He's in a position where he's on the hook too, and soon, will possibly need Biden to somehow get him off of it. Unless, of course, he makes himself open to switching parties - which after all this and all these years, I seriously doubt he'd ever considered.
But while the attacks are more ideological than political, especially for the more progressive wing of the Democrats, such bombast speaks to the need for moderation within both parties but most especially the Democrats. The attacks will not harm Manchin, given his status in West Virginia, where by nearly forty percent. Democrats, however, don't seem to understand the reward: a centrist, independent, can translate into a win, which sometimes means flouting the party over a controversial piece of legislation. Nor are they trying to work with Manchin, and this will be their problem. Furthermore, Manchin has voted with his party , dating back to the 112th Congress, and according to ProPolitica, he's Frankly, Manchin doesn't need his party. The party needs him.
Joe Manchin said in 2011 that the US was 'paralyzed by the filibuster' but is now blocking efforts to change it
In a 2011 press release, Manchin said that senators wanting to halt bills should turn to "sustained debate" rather than the filibuster.Manchin is currently the only Democratic senator refusing to back the For the People Act, a sweeping voting-rights bill that would cancel many GOP-led voting restrictions at the state level. It passed the House with no Republican Party support, and its chances of passing the Senate have been destroyed due to Manchin's opposition.
There was a among the Democratic base this last election that ensured a Biden/Harris win and a slight congressional Democratic majority. And as the , when Democrats are in control, African Americans, the poor and other communities of color legislatively tend to do well. Consequently, the Democrats need moderate voices - conservative Democrats, including Manchin. Democrats should be concerned about the increasing appeal of conservatism to minority voters, especially Latinos.
This week, Republicans have Texas mayoral races, where eighty-five percent of the population is Hispanic. While Republicans may never win over eleven percent of Black voters, we can't ignore conservatism's strong-hold and outreach among certain racial groups, including and . Thus, as some Latinos and Asians flock to the GOP, that increasingly leaves the Democratic party's base minority-majority Black, with urban and liberal progressives. Biden also needs Manchin. Manchin and his party can't be opposed to meaningful legislation without concretely contributing to what is required for a compromise. Even Manchin's predecessor, the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), understood the idea of getting something of value done.
What you should know about W. Va. Sens. Manchin and Capito
WVa. Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Republican Shelley Moore Capito are positioned to swing key parts of President Joe Biden's legislative agenda.West Virginia, which will be down to only two congressional seats after its next redistricting, isn't typically as powerful in Congress as larger, more populous counterparts such as California, New York and Texas.
This sentiment is echoed by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), one of two Georgia Democrats that handed his party the majority with surprising wins in January. , Warnock spoke to Manchin and said he was "hopeful" to win over the moderate Democrat. "Joe Manchin understands that this is a defining moment in American history."
Democrats need to focus on winning in 2022 and 2023. The berating of Manchin will not help, but working with him seems like a winning strategy. Democrats are paying the price now for not investing more seriously in helping 's Senate run in Mississippi or developing a better strategy - specific to the local Maine sensibilities - Susan Collins. Or for not hewing to former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean's dictum that the Dems need to have a .
Ultimately, we need both parties devoid of extremes. While there are some sensible Republicans like Michael Steele and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) the Grand Old Party, in my view, the Republican Party is too far gone. Perhaps a third party is what American politics truly needs. However, in the meantime, the Democrats need to figure out a better way to work with the senior Senator from West Virginia, or we continue to lose as a country.
Quardricos Bernard Driskell is a federal lobbyist, an adjunct professor of legislative politics at . Follow him on Twitter :@q_driskell4
McConnell Has Just One Play Against Joe Manchin’s Voting Rights Compromise .
The question is if the trick will keep working.It’s not that complicated, even if it has been amazingly successful. But it’s also something that hasn’t really been tested, and that is the part that could be about to change. On Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) announced that he could be convinced to vote on Congressional Democrats’ top priorities on voting rights, something he’s previously resisted, and he even offered a list of specific elements he wants to see as part of a compromise on the sprawling “For the People Act,” or S1.