Joe Manchin: Government killer


Well, there goes the Biden Administration. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced today that not only will he not vote for the For The People Act, a federal voting measure meant to counterbalance ones being passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country, but also will not vote to amend or eliminate the filibuster.

That means there’s no chance Pres. Biden’s expansive infrastructure bill will pass, nor any other sweeping legislation. Because without Sen. Manchin, Democrats only have a minority of 49 votes. He’s essentially declared himself unwilling to vote with his party in what’s likely to be the only opportunity Democrats will have to make significant changes. 

Last week, Punchbowl News, released a survey that says 78% of Congressional staff, Democrat and Republican, think Republicans will recapture the House in 2022. Since Dems have a razor thin margin of three votes now, and Congressional remapping is going in favor of Republicans, it seems likely that Republicans will recapture the House. Even if Democrats continue to control the Senate, if Republicans control just the House, you can be sure every possible piece of legislation Joe Biden wants passed will be blocked. 

Essentially, one Joe has ended the political efficacy of another Joe.

The biggest problem with Republicans taking control of government is that they completely lack any government program. In 2020, the party’s platform was literally, “whatever Donald Trump wants to do.” But even if you turned to the traditional Reaganite policies of “low taxes, anti-abortion, pro-gun”, it’s not enough because there’s a whole series of thorny problems that have nothing to do with those three pillars. 

Like, how do you deal with climate change? What about the growing support for cannabis legalization? The growing distrust between big city police and the people they serve? The cost of health care? The rapid rate of offshoring jobs and corporate finances?

Trumpism has steered Republicans to focus almost entirely on cultural issues, largely because there’s no cost to them to fight on those issues. If you’re anti-abortion, that’s a great thing to fight on, because to solve it, you just take away Democrats desire to allow abortions.

But if you want to solve the distrust between police and citizens to improve crime rates, it means both sides will have to give something up. Somebody one your side will lose something dear to them, in exchange for someone on the other side losing something dear to them. But while that sort of thing is governing, it doesn’t always make for good reelection campaign material.

As a result, Trumpism has provided no solutions to thorny problems, and other than “don’t do what Democrats want”, we haven’ t heard much from Republican leaders since then either.

Sen. Manchin clearly doesn’t know it, but we’ve just been committed to at least three more years of roadblock, until 2024, when maybe Democrats can win more seats in the Senate, win back the House, and elect a Democratic president again.

Unfortunately, that’s not a statement of partisanship. It’s the observation of a cynical realist.