I am almost as sick and tired of hearing Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s name as I was of hearing The Donald J. Trump of the United States of America’s name when he was the Occupier of the Oval Office. Before the 2020 election that gave the Democrats control of the senate by the slimmest margin possible – 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote, no one even knew who Senator Joe Manchin was; well, maybe a few people in West Virginia did. Anyway, based on this slimmest of margins situation, Senator Manchin saw the opportunity for a power grab and he took it.
Since grabbing that power, he has been working hard to spread his name throughout America like, I suppose, anything that gets spread by a professional no matter his level on the, so-to-speak, professional totem pole. There is no doubt that these power grabs when they are available are not uncommon and happen far too often by ambitious politicians. They are usually winked at by other politicians, especially those of the same ilk, who are awaiting their own opportunity to further their personal professional goals. That is likely among the reasons why Senator Manchin’s Democratic colleagues are handling him with kid gloves while he runs around with his Republican colleagues and sides with them against getting rid of the filibuster or changing it in any way. Senator Machin is doing this under the guise of bipartisanship and preserving the voice of the minority Party.
This action by Senator Manchin has not gone unnoticed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and he and his lieutenants, which arguably could include Senator Manchin, are taking full advantage of the situation to allow Republican politicians around the country time to introduce and enact voter suppression laws. This means that the cornerstone of the American democracy is at stake vs. a long held senate tradition; the filibuster. Yes, we are talking about preserving the cornerstone of our democracy vs. the tradition of the filibuster! The filibuster is not a part of the Constitution and there are some who argue that it came into being via a mistake! Senator Joe Manchin is siding with the Republicans – all of whom, with the exception of two, are sticking together under the guidance of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to support Donald Trump’s ‘big lie’ – in supporting maintaining the filibuster tradition over the right of every eligible voter to vote.
In the meantime, President Joe Biden – who is an honorable and decent man – is also, and sincerely I might add, striving with everything within his power to work across the aisle and govern on a bipartisan basis. President Biden was a part of the senate for 36 years so he knows how the senate works and that is why, even though the American people are severely divided and obviously polarized, he can still make bipartisanship work. But Senator Mitch McConnell has been a part of the senate for just as long as was now President Biden so he too knows how the senate works. The difference is that President Biden has been out of the senate since 2009 and Senator McConnell, who has served as a senator since 1985, is still there. Senator McConnell has also served as Senate Majority leader. A lot has changed since President Biden left the senate. Is Senator McConnell taking advantage of President Biden’s sentiments and passion regarding that body and playing him like a cheap violin?
Whether or not Senator McConnell is taking advantage of President Biden is of much concern but it is not the point of focus. Americans must keep our eyes on the prize; the franchise: the right of every eligible voter to vote! If that means putting pressure on President Biden and all of our elected Democratic politicians and keeping it there until they do everything legally possible to secure and protect the right of every eligible voter to vote then so be it. If it means peaceful demonstrations of all sorts (‘Good Trouble’) then so be it.
It is far past time for Democratic politicians to confront Senator Joe Manchin and deal with him. They must strategically pressure him because he also has skin in the game: He too, has something to lose. Knowing Democrats, there is no doubt that they are running scared, wringing their hands and asking themselves what will happen if Joe Manchin switches sides and becomes a Republican?! Ooh (sound of knees knocking together)! For all intents and purposes he has already switched sides. And he will continue to use Democrats fear to consolidate his power.
Democrats lose either way because they refuse to argue their position to the American people from a moral standpoint rather than from a policies standpoint. They are either afraid to argue this issue from a moral standpoint or they do not understand that the right to vote is a moral issue that demands an argument based on a moral premise. The Republicans understand this. And that is why they are running all-out in the opposite direction of morals while there is still time to accomplish their nefarious goal. They are betting that the Democrats don’t understand that this is the case and that even if they do they are too busy being afraid to do what obviously needs to be done.
So here we Democrats are again taking to the streets and demonstrating in order to do what our Democratic politicians do not have the nerve to do to preserve the American democracy. And once again we find ourselves hoping against hope that they will eventually grow the spine to do before it is too late. We can send a message to politicians like those who wink at what Senator Joe Machin is doing and to Senator Manchin himself through our vote that now is not the time to try to further his personal ambitions through a power grab.
Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line