The national Democratic Party has contempt for West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and its loudest activists flat-out hate him. Manchin should respond accordingly. It’s time for him not only to leave the Democratic Party but, even as an independent, to start officially caucusing with Republicans.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another nonradical Democrat, should do likewise.
Manchin said on Fox News Sunday that he is a firm “no” vote on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better boondoggle. It’s a bill that, once the accounting gimmicks are stripped away, would require an astronomical $5 trillion in new federal spending while giving numerous benefits to wealthy special interests.
Many leading Democrats erupted. Rather than speak in measured terms of the “more in sorrow than in anger” variety, rather than leaving an opening for their own party member to stay in the fold on other matters, leading Democrats scorched the earth.
White House flack Jen Psaki released an extraordinarily harsh and lengthy statement accusing Manchin of not negotiating “in good faith” and of “a breach in his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.” She accused him of “a sudden and irreversible reversal in his position” while blasting his explanations in markedly demeaning language.
Avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Manchin “doesn’t have the guts to stand up to powerful special interests.” Leftist Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts accused Manchin of having “contempt” for the public. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Manchin proved to be not “a man of his word.” And antisemitic radical Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said Manchin’s concerns were “complete bulls***.”
These geniuses must not understand that without Manchin, they wouldn’t have a majority at all. They also must not understand that Manchin is the only Democrat these days who can possibly be elected statewide in West Virginia. Their nastiness and vehemence easily could leave their collective face badly spited, lacking the nose they themselves sliced off.
Their criticism also is flagrantly dishonest. Manchin always has been transparent about his reluctance regarding the bill overall and about his specific concerns and list of line-in-the-sand limits to what the bill could spend or do. In July, he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer both signed a paper acknowledging what Manchin’s nonnegotiable items were. It is quite clear Schumer and Biden didn’t meet those terms. Moreover, on a more general level, Manchin said all along he was worried about the bill’s effects on both inflation and on the national debt; since then, both inflation and the debt have worsened.
Rather than honestly meet those concerns, House Democrats passed a bill full of gimmicks meant to disguise, however inelegantly, the true cost of the bill. No wonder Manchin didn’t go along.
They know full well that polls repeatedly have shown that Manchin’s West Virginia constituents disapprove of the BBB bill by a 3-1 margin. They know Biden himself is tremendously unpopular in West Virginia. Yet although Manchin is clearly doing his constituents’ will, Biden and company still insult him.
Enough should be enough. Manchin should caucus with Republicans, in return for keeping his chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. And Arizona’s Sinema, also a BBB skeptic, could do likewise. In so doing, both would be representing their constituents and the country well by helping rebuild a center in the badly polarized congressional system.
The Democrats’ insults show a bent toward command-and-control politics. In opposition, Manchin and Sinema, if they self-identify as independents, can strike a blow for compromise and consensus.