Both pronouncements do considerable damage to Democrats — not only on the policy front but also as both parties begin to prep their arguments ahead of the 2022 midterms.
Let’s take a look at the “For the People” Act first.
“Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support. Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?
“The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.”
Oomph. Manchin’s both-sides-are-to-blame argument hands Republicans a perfect talking point to use against Democrats. Even your own party didn’t sign on because it was a “partisan” bill — and other similar arguments.
“Some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past …
” … Yes, this process can be frustrating and slow. It will force compromises that are not always ideal. But consider the alternative. Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants, whenever it wants?”
Again, this pronouncement has policy and political implications.
On the policy front, it effectively means that Democrats will need to find Republican support for almost anything they want to do legislatively between now and November 2022. Which means things like the “Fair Vote Act” are dead in the water.
On the political front, it further divides the already riven Democratic base between those, like Manchin, who are focused on the need to find bipartisan solutions to America’s problems and liberals who insist that the GOP has zero interest in ever signing on to any compromise legislation and, as a result, that their side needs to use any means necessary to get their policy priorities passed.
The worst part of all of this for Democrats? Manchin is effectively un-punishable. His state is overwhelmingly Republican and even the senator’s biggest detractors admit that no other Democrat could hold the seat for their side.
“Without Manchin, Mitch McConnell would be majority leader. With Manchin, Dems got a nearly $2 [trillion] Covid relief law that McConnell tried to derail.”
And because of the clear conservative bent of West Virginia, Manchin not only won’t pay a price for his apostasy but will likely be lauded for it, meaning there is zero political incentive for him to change his mind or even amend any of his positions.
In short: Joe Manchin is untouchable. And, as his sinking of the Democratic agenda in a single op-ed on Sunday showed, extremely powerful.