Joe Manchin Can Name 12 Logical Fallacies Preventing Him From Supporting Voting Rights
This morning, West Virginia newspaper the Charleston Gazette-Mail published an op-ed from Senator Joe Manchin, titled, very simply, "Why I'm Voting Against the For the People Act."
Is it particularly surprising that Joe Manchin is voting against the For the People Act? Of course not. That's what he does. He's a scorpion and that's just his nature. But the way I figure it, if he is going to write an entire article titled "Why I'm Voting Against the For the People Act," he should at least have the decency to explain why he is voting against the For the People Act.
He does not.
In this op-ed, Manchin spends lots of time explaining why he's opposed to ending the filibuster, but the only explanation he gives for why he opposes the For the People Act is that it's "partisan."
[W]e 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.
The For the People Act is huge. There is a lot in it. And yet, Manchin does not manage to name one single specific item in the bill that he can say is explicitly "partisan." He may as well have said that he found the bill "derivative" or claimed that it "insists upon itself." It means nothing. Given that this is a major piece of Democratic legislation, one would think he could do us all the favor of being a little more specific. Which aspect of the bill does he find "partisan?" Which part of it does he think would be unfair to Republicans? I think we'd all be happy to hear him out were he able to make that known.
Rather than explaining what about it he finds specifically objectionable, Manchin simply assures us that if the bill were good, it would have support from all of the wonderful Republicans in Congress who deigned to agree that the president encouraging a bunch of cafones to storm the Capitol building was maybe bad.
Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support. Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?
It may seem partisan to Manchin simply because it is commonly held wisdom that the more people are able to vote and the easier it is for them to do so, the more likely it is that they will vote for Democrats — but that isn't really a reason for those people to not be able to vote. I'm just saying, if we're gonna arrange things that way, then why go through with elections at all? Why even call them elections? We might as well just dispense with this charade entirely. If we're arranging elections to make it easier for Republicans to win due to fewer people voting, then how is that not just an appointment?
Democrats winning elections because everyone is able to vote easily and Republicans winning because it is harder for certain people to vote are not equal scenarios. If Republicans can't win elections with everyone voting, that seems like more of a "them" problem than an "us" problem, no? Am I wrong here? Am I losing my mind?
Manchin's main point of contention seems to be that the Act is simply unfair to Republicans because they did not help to write it. It is unclear, however, who it was that was stopping them. Two Republican House representatives in fact proposed amendments to the bill, and yes, they were voted down, but that's how things work. Some amendments proposed by Democrats also failed, because that is also the way things work. Republicans could have participated more, they chose not to. Once again, that is a "them" problem.
I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster. For as long as I have the privilege of being your U.S. senator, I will fight to represent the people of West Virginia, to seek bipartisan compromise no matter how difficult and to develop the political bonds that end divisions and help unite the country we love.
It is a known fact that nothing destroys democracy quite like making voting more accessible.
Even if bipartisanship were the magic path to super great legislation — which I do not personally believe it is, given the amount of crap things that have had "bipartisan support" — it's not feasible. It is bad for Republicans, electorally, to vote to advance practically any legislation put forward by Democrats. It doesn't matter how inoffensive it is, they're not going to do it because their voters do not want them to do it. If they vote for it, they will be swiftly replaced by the closest available Marjorie Taylor Greene.
I do not expect Joe Manchin to agree with me, a far left socialist, on basically anything. I do, however, expect him not to base his opposition to important pieces of legislation entirely on logical fallacies, and I think that is more than fair.
(ALSO A QUICK DISCLAIMER: We totally did not plan on having back to back Sinema-Manchin criticism this morning, but Manchin went and dropped that op-ed and I was legally required to take the bait. So don't be mad at us!)
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse