The answer to your question is yes, I am getting tired of defending Joe Manchin. And yet, I’m going to do it again.
The last remaining conservative Democratic senator, Manchin is taking heat from his fellow Democrats once again for killing their fondest dreams. This time he took what wind was left out of the sails of climate change legislation. He told negotiators last Thursday that he couldn’t support anything after spending months whittling down the ambitious proposals coming out of the Biden administration. It’s not just that he killed the bill, he left people with a feeling that he had not negotiated in good faith, that he had strung them along.
I get the frustration. Climate change is a very big deal and some strong actions are warranted. But Manchin represents a coal-producing state and, in the end, he just wasn’t going to support legislation that he didn’t think was in the best interests of West Virginia, not to mention his own bottom line as someone with financial ties to the industry.
But here’s the thing, my fellow angry Democrats. How much would we like the alternative? Because without Manchin there is no Democratic majority at all. Manchin finds a way to win in West Virginia, a state that went for Donald Trump by 39 points. Do you really think that a guy who comes out of a state like that is going to be a coastal liberal? Of course not. What’s important is that without Joe Manchin, Mitch McConnell is majority leader.
Do you like Ketanji Brown Jackson? McConnell has made it clear that he would not allow any Democratic president to get a Supreme Court nomination past the Senate no matter when that nomination occurs. Manchin’s very presence made it possible.
Do you like liberal federal judges? McConnell would have blocked any judicial nomination that didn’t meet rigorous conservative standards. As it is, Biden has gotten more federal judges approved than Trump did. Manchin made that happen.
Do you like the infrastructure bill? A decades long road block (pun intended) was cleared and now roads and other infrastructure are getting improved all over America. Sure, some Republicans voted for the bill, but do you really think that, if he was in control, McConnell would have let Biden have this big accomplishment? Manchin made it possible.
Did you like all the good stuff in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue package? Among other things, we briefly had a refundable child tax credit that may have cut childhood poverty in half. It expired at the first of this year, but the experiment was promising and it may come back. Thank you, Sen. Manchin.
Do you like lower prescription drug prices and increased Obamcare subsidies? Manchin says that he can still come to an agreement on those two substantial improvements.
In truth, Biden and Democrats over played their hand. With no margin to spare, they went for transformational change in huge spending packages. In full disclosure, I also thought that was a good idea when it all began. I figured my party would certainly lose their majority in at least one house of Congress in 2022 and so, they might as well swing for the fences. But in retrospect, they should have played small ball. And now, with inflation the biggest issue on the minds of average Americans, the last thing we need is more government spending. Don’t blame Manchin for being in closer touch with the bulk of voters than liberal elites.
Want to read more curiously conservative views from a liberal? Pick up a copy of Light Blue: How center-left moderates can build an enduring Democratic majority.