Wineke: Manchin is assailed, but he is right

Manchin Pans Dc Statehood Bill In Another Break With Dems
J. Scott Applewhite

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, arrives to hold a confirmation hearing for Tommy Beaudreau of Alaska, to be deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 29, 2021.

MADISON, Wis. — West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin says he will not vote for the For the People voting rights act nor will he vote to end the filibuster, and that has liberal Democrats enraged.

Manchin is a “Dino,” a Democrat In Name Only, some of them sputter. Others want President Joe Biden to do some thing about the conservative senator. They don’t spell out just what it is Biden is supposed to do.

If the situation were reversed, Republicans would never tolerate such perfidy, most everyone agrees.

Most everyone is probably correct about the Republicans but I think Manchin is right about the underlying philosophy of his position.

He keeps saying – and has been saying right along – that he won’t support measures that don’t have at least some bipartisan support. And he wants to keep the filibuster because it protects minority rights.

Manchin’s vote is important because the Senate is tied 50-50 between Republicans, Democrats and Independents who vote with the Democrats. If Manchin doesn’t support a Democratic proposal, then it loses.

Of course, the same can be said of any other Democratic senator. If Tammy Baldwin says “no,” then a proposal loses.

But here’s why I think Manchin is right: If the only thing that matters in government is a power play, then the country has already lost. What will happen is that every success will be followed by a reversal the next time the other party gains power.

It is true that Republicans already play the game that way and they are coming ever-closer to destroying our democracy in the process.

If Democrats want to play the same game, we can forget about democracy. The whole country will become a Game of Thrones.

Manchin doesn’t have to be the kingpin in all this.

Democrats could make an all-out effort to recruit a Republican or two to support voting rights.

If Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is successful in convincing every Republican in the Senate to vote against guaranteeing the underlying principle of our democracy, then we as a nation, have already lost.

And, it may be that we already have lost. We’re finding legislation passing in state after state that offers Republican legislators the ability to overturn elections they lose at the ballot box. I’m not sure the success of such legislation would result in Donald Trump taking office, but it would pretty much guarantee some autocrat gains power.

That hasn’t happened yet. I don’t think it will happen. And I do think Manchin will, in history, be proved right.