The Biden administration and the razor-thin Democratic majority have found themselves in an extremely precarious situation; the preservation of America’s democracy as we know it relies on taking full advantage of this limited opportunity to pass transformative legislation and ensure that we cannot simply be gerrymandered and legislated into political irrelevance by a Republican Party hellbent on restoring a fascist to the White House and ensuring one-party rule for the foreseeable future.
But our only chance to do so requires drastic action like abolishing the filibuster, adding more states to the Union, and expanding the Supreme Court — and the biggest obstacle to all of that lies within our own party.
Ex-Republican Joe Manchin has made it very clear that he will keep the Democrats from doing any of the things needed to preserve our free and fair elections on behalf of his “Republican friends.” In a recent interview with VOX.com, Manchin articulated why he thinks the Democratic Party should give in to the terrorists, both domestic and legislative, in order to temper a political climate that is “too far on the extremes” and “out of touch with how most people live their lives.”
Astonishingly, Manchin accuses his fellow Democrats of attempting to “restructure the voting of America along a partisan line” with the must-pass For the People voting rights act, warning that any attempt to preserve our democracy would lead to another insurrection like the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. VOX‘s Andrew Prokop writes:
“How in the world could you, with the tension we have right now, allow a voting bill to restructure the voting of America on a partisan line?” he asked. He says that 20 to 25 percent of the public already doesn’t trust the system and that a party-line overhaul would “guarantee” that number would increase, leading to more “anarchy” like that at the Capitol on January 6. He added: “I just believe with all my heart and soul that’s what would happen, and I’m not going to be part of it.”
His argument doesn’t hold water, however, because doing nothing to fix it is allowing Republicans to pass literally hundreds of bills that are restructuring the voting of America on partisan lines by making it harder for the Democratic voting base to exercise their right to vote — but as a conservative and an ex-Republican, Manchin somehow sees no problem with this. In essence, he is arguing that we should allow the extremist Trumper minority to perpetually hold the government hostage under the threat of violence to avoid hurting their feelings or threatening the white supremacist hold over American politics.
The grim reality is that there are only two ways for Democrats to get anything passed — budget reconciliation or abolishing the filibuster. Unless we want to get thrown out ungraciously in 2022, we need to start producing real results for the American people — and to do that we need to solve the Manchin problem.
Manchin has signaled that he will use his position to block the use of either of those methods for anything that would qualify as delivering substantial or transformative material benefits to the non-oligarchic classes, which no conservative will ever allow to happen lest it reminded the downtrodden that government is capable of doing more than simply maintaining an increasingly worsening status quo.
That carefully cultivated perception of Congressional apathy and uselessness is the GOP’s key to driving down voter turnout and engagement with politics as a whole while they redirect their own supporters’ frustration away from material concerns into performative culture war bullshit and white nationalist fearmongering.
That’s exactly why we cannot allow this ex-Republican to be the man that squanders the incredible potential of a Democratic Senate majority — which at this point is a once in a decade phenomenon — and in doing so make the highly likely loss of the House in the 2022 midterm elections all but assured. While the “big tent” talk sounds good on MSNBC, Democrats are quickly learning that having a wild divergence in interests between their caucus members does not make for a productive government.
It’s not a compromise if your side is doing all the compromising!
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.