Joe Manchin is pilloried for the offense of being consistent on filibuster.
In 2017, when Senate Democrats desperately sought to stop Donald Trump’s agenda, 33 of them, including Manchin, signed a bipartisan letter supporting obstruction in resounding terms.
“We recognize the unique role the Senate plays in the legislative process,” they wrote, “and we are firmly committed to ensuring that this great American institution continues to serve as the greatest legislative body in the world. “
Well, the commitment of almost all Democrats was not as firm as advertised.
Now that filibuster is an obstacle to the passage of Joe Biden’s agenda, the long-standing Senate process is seen as a threat to our system of government and to racial justice that only a naïve or a cynic can support.
And that means you, Joe Manchin.
The West Virginia senator has been harassed for months by reporters eager to change his mind about filibuster, or at least show some flexibility. Now the lobbying campaign within his own party has escalated to include exaggerated slurs that have an air of despair about them.
After Manchin reiterated his support for filibuster and clearly expressed his opposition to HR1, a high profile Democratic voting bill, in an op-ed this weekend, the progressive House Democratic Mondaire Jones of New York unloaded on Twitter. According to Jones, the title of Manchin’s article might as well have been: “Why I Will Vote to Preserve Jim Crow.”
This is absurd defamation and a transparent attempt to club Manchin into submission by defining his sincere attachment to senatorial tradition and his belief in bipartisanship as tantamount to racism.
Another New Yorker House member Jamaal Bowman told CNN: “Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell. “
The comparison might make sense if McConnell had voted with Joe Biden 100% of the time so far, and supported the Affordable Care Act and voted twice to impeach President Donald Trump.
Despite the abuse, Manchin is on to something. The current situation is a good illustration of the purpose of filibuster – it is a safeguard that prevents a very slim Senate majority that could easily be wiped out by January 2023 from adopting a sweeping, sweeping agenda. in a fit of partisan passion.
Democrats aren’t angry because they know support for their agenda will grow over time – they’re crazy because they know it won’t, and if Manchin and other recalcitrant Democrats in the Senate do not immediately engage, they will miss their little window. to fight their way through brutal legislative force before losing one or both houses of Congress.
They convinced themselves that GOP state legislatures are destroying democracy with new voting laws overturning pandemic-related innovations and boosting security, a feverish myth that will also not stand the test of time.
As for HR1, it is a constitutionally dubious monstrosity that would trample state election laws in a huge step towards federalizing the US elections. Machin was right to say in his editorial that it is revealing that no Republican, whether Susan Collins or Mitt Romney, supports this partisan takeover.
Manchin is not always as firm in standing up to his own party as he seems, but he has been remarkably firm so far. His role as a Senate check on Biden’s left-wing ambitions has certainly made him more popular at home, and progressive slanders against him will only strengthen his political position. The Left isn’t going anywhere if it tries to replace him in 2024 (assuming he decides to run again), and if he loses to a more progressive Democrat, Republicans would easily win his seat.
Of course, the attacks on Manchin will only become more poisonous. That is the price to pay for refusing to turn back on the filibuster and embark on a sprawling parody of a voting bill.
Rich Lowry is a union columnist. He’s on Twitter @RichLowry.