Senator Joe Manchin, one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, has become a household name thanks to his signature brand of obstructing any attempt by President Biden to improve the material conditions of Americans.
The mainstream media and pundits on TV love to heap praise on Senator Manchin for his “bi-partisanship,” but where has that actually gotten us? President Biden ran on the promise to build back better than ever before. This bold vision was endorsed by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of the most progressive members of Congress. Sen. Warren’s message of big structural change, combined with Sen. Sanders’ calls for a political revolution delivered the White House to Joe Biden and Democrats. However, we’re now over six months into this new administration and not many of President Biden’s promises have been fulfilled. Most of the blame can be placed at the feet of Joe Manchin and Krystin Sinema (more on her in a future piece).
Joe Manchin, the mainstream media, and TV pundits will tell you that he has to govern like a conservative, because he comes from a very red state. While it is true that Joe Manchin comes from West Virginia, a solid Republican state, he has very clearly built a coalition that can get him elected. And sure, West Virginians are socially conservative, like those in other red states, but you can’t pretend like these people are also fiscally conservative.
West Virginia consistently ranks among the poorest states in the union. Life expectancy there is among the worst in the country. These are people, our fellow citizens that need help from the Biden Administration the most. According to a Data For Progress poll, 56 percent of West Virginia voters support raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. In that same poll, Biden’s infrastructure plan is supported by a whopping 75 percent of West Virginia voters. Even the PRO Act, a comprehensive pro-workers’ rights bill, is supported by 53 percent of West Virginians, including Senator Manchin. However, Manchin’s unwavering support for an archaic Senate rule such as the filibuster, means that even with his vote, the PRO Act won’t make it to Biden’s desk.
To make matters worse, as Texas Democrats risk arrest for breaking quorum to stop Republican voter suppression efforts, Sen. Joe Manchin stabbed them in the back by visiting a Republican fundraiser in Houston, where tickets cost over $5,000 each. While this disgusting display of political corruption is upsetting enough, the fact that he’s taking money from Republican donors, at a time when Republicans are desperately trying to secure minority rule, is a shameful betrayal to the Democratic Party and its values.
Look, no one is asking Sen. Joe Manchin to become a raging woke liberal, on the frontlines of the culture war. Just stop with the made-up argument that obstruction is popular in West Virginia, or even effective electorally. The polling numbers cited prove that Biden and his agenda are popular with Manchin’s constituents. So enough with the bad faith arguments.
We all remember what happened in the 2010 midterms, Democrats were obliterated all across the country. This was two years into Obama’s first term, after he failed to deliver on many of his promises, namely a public option. We’re literally watching history repeat itself, except this time it’s not Republicans obstructing, it’s Joe Manchin, someone who’s supposed to be a Democrat.
I don’t care what Joe Manchin has to tell his voters next time he’s up for re-election, all we need from him right now is to get on board and help save this country. We’re facing a housing crisis, student debt crisis, medical debt crisis, mental health crisis, climate catastrophe, and infrastructure collapse. If we can’t deliver real, meaningful change to the people, they’re going to lose faith and not show up in the midterms, or flip entirely out of sheer desperation. If the prospect of Republicans winning the House and Senate wasn’t scary enough, just remember that they will continue their power grab and suppress even more attempts to make voting easier and more accessible. The path to fascism was built on broken liberal promises, so we cannot afford to mess up this moment in history. Our children and their children’s futures depend on what we do at this very moment.