It would be nice to live in a functioning democracy where the majority party elected by the will of the people actually passed legislation that is not only hugely popular, but whose goals the elected officials themselves claim to support.
Haha! What a dream, right? Unfortunately, we live in America, and we have Senator Joe Manchin, who seems to continue to believe that Republicans care about voting rights, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Over the weekend, Manchin wrote an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail on why he’s opposed to democracy, and specifically, the For the People Act. “The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics,” he began, continuing, “Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner.”
He continued, emphasis my own:
Unfortunately, we now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized. Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage. Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it.
As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.
I guess he must have forgotten already about the Capitol insurrection, and all of the states where Republicans have passed anti-democratic laws curbing voting, and basically the last several decades of Republican politics! But sure, go on about “bipartisanship.”
Manchin concluded by adding, “Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.” He explained his rationale, which has no basis in the reality of today’s obstructionist Republican Party: “Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants, whenever it wants? I have always said, ‘If I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ And I cannot explain strictly partisan election reform or blowing up the Senate rules to expedite one party’s agenda.”
In response to his op-ed, New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman came out and said what a lot of other people are thinking: Manchin, Bowman said on CNN, is “the new Mitch McConnell.”
While it’s not true that Manchin, like McConnell, wants to obstruct every single push by the Biden administration, by doubling down on his anti-filibuster stance, he’s doing his best imitation. “Joe Manchin is doing everything in his power to stop democracy and to stop our work for the people, the work that the people sent us here to do,” Bowman added, continuing, “Manchin is not pushing us closer to bipartisanship. He is doing the work of the Republican Party by being an obstructionist, just like they’ve been since the beginning of Biden’s presidency.”
Listen, I get that Manchin is (ostensibly) a Democrat in a now-majority Republican state, who only narrowly won re-election last time around. I get that a Senate without Joe Manchin would be a Senate that would not have been able to push through the latest covid-19 relief bill, and would have no chance at passing the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill. And Manchin is not the only Democrat in the Senate who’s hesitant about abolishing the filibuster, only the most vocal. But this is not a low-stakes debate—as many, many others have said, we’re staring down the barrel of entrenched white minority rule unless Democrats in power use their time in office now to do something about it. As Ari Berman put it recently, “Once again, the party of white grievance is rewriting the rules of American democracy to protect conservative white political power from the rising influence of new demographic groups.”
C’mon, Joe, even another old white man named Joe saw the light about the Republican Party and so-called bipartisanship! If one Joe can do it, so can you!