Let’s Assume, Just For The Moment, That Joe Manchin Is A Dishonest Man

Vote suppression
Let’s Assume, Just For The Moment, That Joe Manchin Is A Dishonest Man

Senate Democrats will fail to pass voting rights legislation today, because Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema love the filibuster more than democracy. We’ve been through all their tired-ass reasons for enabling Republican white minority rule. They still don’t make sense.

For instance, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will propose a so-called “talking filibuster,” where Republicans would have to put some minimal effort into obstructing voting rights.

"Once members of the minority party have exhausted all of their speaking rights and defended their position on the Senate floor, the debate will have run its course and the Senate will move to vote on final passage at a majority threshold, which has always been the threshold for final passage," Schumer explained.

Manchin wants no part of this, despite having implied last year he’d support making the filibuster a “little more painful.” He said a lot of things last year.

FILIBUSTER REFRESHER: Filibuster? Joe Manchin Doesn’t Even Know Her.

He claims a rule change to the filibuster hasn’t "happened in the history of our country. You know, basically, there's never been a simple majority vote to basically get off a debate. I don't know how you break a rule to make a rule.”


Republicans most recently amended/tweaked/killed the filibuster in 2017 for Supreme Court nominations so they could more easily confirm a shithead, an accused sexual predator, and Aunt Lydia. Four years earlier, Democrats went nuclear so Mitch McConnell would stop blocking all of Barack Obama’s judicial nominations. Changing the filibuster seems to occur as frequently as the elections that won’t matter if we don’t stop Republican voter suppression efforts.

VOTER SUPPRESSION PRIMER: Georgia County Might Close All But One Polling Place, Because ... Let's See ... 'COVID' This Time

Senator Raphael Warnock has said that voting rights legislation must pass because “our country is on the brink of peril.” He’s Black and from Georgia, so he’s probably noticed the rampant voter suppression and election subversion efforts.

Manchin, however, thinks everything’s chill and isn’t sure what all the fuss is about. Tuesday, a reporter asked him what he would say to people of color who believe his Manchin’s filibuster-humping will prevent them from voting in the next election. His response was utter nonsense.

MANCHIN: The law’s there. The rule’s are there ... and basically, the government will stand behind them to make sure they have a right to vote. We have that.

It’s literally the Republican-controlled government in states that’s trying to keep people from voting. This is why it’s incumbent on the federal government to act. Did Manchin sleep through 1965? This is pretty basic.

MANCHIN: The things we’re talking about now are in court. Marc Elias has [fought that] in court. They struck down the gerrymandering in Ohio.

Democratic lawyer Marc Elias has done heroic work, but Manchin is acting like we shouldn’t put locks on the doors at Arkham Asylum because Batman exists. You need to meet the guy halfway. Elias subtweeted shade last night:

ELIAS: I'm done with political analysis from people who have never waited in hours long lines to vote, been challenged at the polls or had an absentee ballot rejected. I'm also done with magical legal solutions from people who have never worked on a campaign or set foot in a courtroom.

President Joe Biden has called Republican voter suppression efforts “Jim Crow 2.0” and Manchin repeated many of the same Jim Crow talking points. He said, “We act like we’re going to obstruct people from voting. That’s not going to happen.” Southern conservatives might’ve claimed their literacy tests and poll taxes didn’t technically prevent Black people from voting, but it was an obvious end run around the 15th Amendment. Their intent was as clear and obvious as it is now. Manchin isn’t just on the wrong side of history. He’s living fully in the past.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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