Ezra Klein does piece in the NY Times about the West Virginia DEMOCRATIC USA Senator that seem’s to be a pain in the ass to some in his party, but keeps getting re-elected in state that doesn’t really elect Democrats anymore….
Let me start with something you don’t often hear from liberals these days: A few words of praise for Joe Manchin.
By the standards of the age, Manchin is a political magician. West Virginia, the state he represents as a Democrat in the Senate, has a 35.5-point lean toward the Republican Party, according to FiveThirtyEight. To put that into context, there is only one Republican in the Senate representing a state that’s even mildly bluish, and that’s Susan Collins, from Maine, which has a four-point Democratic bias.
Put simply, Manchin shouldn’t exist. And Democrats cannot take him for granted. Their Senate majority, and thus the whole of their legislative agenda, hinges on his ability to win elections anyone else would lose. None of that makes Manchin’s every decision laudable, or even wise, but it demands recognition. He has honed instincts worth respecting. And now, in the 50-50 Senate that teeters on his vote, he is the most powerful legislator of our age.
This is the core of Manchinism. All of the stances he takes that frustrate Democrats right now — his defense of the filibuster, his opposition to the For the People Act, his insistence on endless negotiations with Republicans on infrastructure — run downstream of his belief in bipartisanship. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation,” he wrote in The Washington Post. This is maddening to his colleagues who want to judge legislation on the merits. But Manchin has been clear about his goal.
What has not been clear is his strategy. At his worst, Manchin prizes the aesthetic of bipartisanship over its actual pursuit. In those moments, he becomes a defender of the status quo and, paradoxically, an enabler of Republican partisanship. But over the past 24 hours, a plausible path has emerged through which Manchin could build a more cooperative and deliberative Senate. It’s narrow, but it’s there.
Part of the strategy relies on changing the rules. Manchin has said, over and over again, that he will not eliminate or weaken the filibuster…