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Joe Manchin: A Lie, A Verb, And Abortion
Manchin not done screwing us yet.
Joe Manchin is leaving the Senate, and like any down-home representative of the third-poorest state in the nation, he explained his reasons in the Wall Street Journal. His characteristically self-serving op-ed started with a lie that ended with a threat: “Both parties have come under the domination of the extremes. I want to find a better way.”
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Centrists like Manchin always overestimate the power and influence the far Left has within the Democratic Party, whose actual leaders include Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Hakeem Jeffries, and Chuck Schumer. Meanwhile, the Republican Party just ousted its quisling Speaker Kevin McCarthy and replaced him with far-right Christian fundamentalist Mike Johnson. Manchin worked in Congress and might’ve noticed which of the two parties actively promotes chaos and has a free-range Marjorie Taylor Greene.
I have always been a responsible pro-life advocate, but polls and elections like this week’s ballot initiative in Ohio show that most Americans want the balance found for the past 50 years in Roe v. Wade.
So last year I pushed for a bill that would have codified the 1973 ruling into law. At the time, Democrats controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress. We should have had the votes to pass the bill.
But the Senate Democratic leadership and the majority of the caucus refused to allow a vote on the floor because they wanted to expand abortion rights beyond Roe v. Wade. They put politics over the will of the people.
Everything he just said is bullshit. Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and Sinema Party Senator Kyrsten Sinema had sponsored the Reproductive Freedom For All Act, which many abortion rights groups argued wouldn’t actually provide the same protections as Roe. Their skepticism wasn’t unfounded, considering that the Women’s Health Protection Act, abortion rights groups’ preferred bill, passed the House but failed twice in the Senate. Manchin personally joined Republicans in tanking the legislation. There was some absurd spin about the Women’s Health Protection Act going “too far” and violating religious freedom and possibly making abortions mandatory or some crap like that.
Reproductive rights organizations believed (rightly) that Roe was a weak framework on its own that anti-abortion groups had successfully chipped away at over the years. Nonetheless, it’s misleading to suggest that in this case Democrats made “perfect the enemy of the good” (a centrist mantra). The Reproductive Freedom For All Act was never gonna pass anyway because of the damn filibuster that Manchin vowed to defend with his dying breath.
He pulled this same banana in the tailpipe with voting rights. He opposed the For The People Act, stating in a column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail that “partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy.” Yes, Black people freely voting is just too damn partisan. It will make everyone uncomfortable at the Senate country club. A few months later, Manchin and some other moderate senators announced a grand bipartisan compromise on voting rights, which still failed because it couldn’t get 60 votes. Collins and Murkowski were the only Republicans open to seriously protecting voting and abortion rights. Manchin and Sinema’s devotion to the filibuster deliberately blocked passage of the very bills they claimed to support.
Here’s where he not-so-subtly threatens democracy with “both sides” nonsense.
But this moment in the nation’s history is so filled with peril and political dysfunction that I want to work not only for my beloved West Virginia but for all Americans. Working together, I want to eliminate what is standing in the way of so many obvious and popular solutions.
The filibuster stands in the way of those “obvious and popular solutions.” It’s helped Republicans block voting rights, abortion protections, and sensible gun safety laws. One might think Manchin and Sinema were so supportive of the filibuster precisely because it prevented Democrats from delivering big for Americans (especially Black voters who were denied voting rights reform and DC statehood).
While the Democratic and Republican parties increasingly cater to the extremes, most Americans are moderate, levelheaded folks, and they are plain worn out.
The Democratic Party that nominated Joe Biden does not “cater to extremes,” but Manchin’s lies are potent weapons aimed at Biden’s re-election. Biden promised a “return to normalcy” in 2020 and vowed to work across the aisle for the interests of all Americans. Manchin was literally there when Biden successfully negotiated a major bipartisan infrastructure bill. Biden had a narrow Democratic majority in the House and Senate for two years but accomplished a great deal. Democratic leaders kept their diverse caucuses united with only Manchin and Sinema as irritating, showboating exceptions. Yet, Manchin is equating Democratic governance in 2021 and 2022 to the clown car dumpster fire Republicans have performed this year.
Manchin denounces excessive money in politics, toxic gerrymandering, and closed primaries, but he’s the one who failed to address those issues when he had the chance. When he says that “incentives in politics reward bad behavior and demand party purity at the expense of problem-solving,” he’s describing the current Republican Party but he refuses to challenge them directly.
“Both parties are the same” is the myopic thinking that got us George W. Bush (twice) and Donald Trump. That is the real threat from Manchin and his No Labels buddies. They’re promoting the narrative that Biden failed in his promise to unite the nation after Trump. Instead, they insist, Biden and Democrats delivered just more of the same broken politics. “Throw all the bums out!” they shout like common Jill Steins. Except that will only let the old fascists back in.
Joe Manchin knows exactly what he’s doing, and it’s only going to hurt the president and party who tolerated him for far too long.
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