Last week, in a West Virginia newspaper and backed-up by a Fox News interview, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin stated very clearly that he is opposed to the For the People Voting Rights Bill and fully backs the current Senate filibuster rule. Both positions aid and abet the effort of the Republican Party in its bid to make voting more difficult for all voters, but especially younger and non-white voters who more often vote Democratic.
Without the support of Manchin, it is extremely unlikely that the bill will pass in the partisan, evenly divided Senate. Republican leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he and possibly all of the Republican senators will oppose the bill.
If the For the People Bill does not pass the Senate, voter suppression laws already on the books or being contemplated by Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country will become law. (If the For the People Bill is approved, it would supersede the states’ voter suppression laws.) To make matters even worse, several states, including Georgia, Texas, and Arizona are attempting to codify it so that the state legislatures or judges, rather than local election officials, could decide whether election results would be accepted or overturned. It is likely that other states will follow that pattern, which would mean that partisan Republican officials, not the voters, would decide who to seat as a result of the elections.
Senator Manchin understands all of this. Yet, he persists. We are not sure whether he has already decided to turn Republican in order to keep his seat in a heavily-Republican state; whether he is being paid-off by Republican donors or the party to block the Democratic-agenda; or whether there is some other reason why he is so staunchly bucking the agenda of the president, the position of his party, and the democracy-protecting efforts being put forward.
In addition to his opposition to the For the People Bill, Manchin has also doubled-down in his opposition to getting rid of the filibuster rule. That rule makes it virtually impossible for Biden and the Democrats to get anything passed in the Senate, no matter how many of the American people, including Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, want it and no matter how good it would be for the country. Again, McConnell and the Republican leadership have decided that they are not willing to support anything that might make the Democrats look good and will use the filibuster rule to block any such legislation.
Under the current filibuster rule, it takes at least 60 votes to pass anything. By keeping the rule in place, the full Senate would not even get a chance to vote on an item until after it has overcome the filibuster. Manchin, by his positions, helps tie the Senate in knots on any and every major piece of legislation.
In the meantime, Trump and his supporters are driving full-steam ahead to make it impossible to have free and fair elections. They are setting themselves up to rig the electoral process to such an extent that they can have any election overturned where they control the state legislature, that Republicans never have to accept a loss for the presidency, and can even block the certification of any electoral college loss on the part of Republican candidates. All of these facts are known and were acknowledged by the Republican Party as far back as 2016.
Since that time, Republicans have been laying the groundwork to put it all in play. Joe Manchin, just as mostly everyone else who keeps up with national politics, knows this. Yet, his stands in opposition to two of the most effective things that can be done to divert the Trump-led Republican drive toward minority rule, in the form of white supremacist devotees enables it to happen.
Donald Trump and his followers must be smiling from ear to ear every time they hear Manchin speak. Not only does it help fulfill Trump’s desire to be the authoritarian ruler of the country, it would enable him to remain out of jail and continue to rob the country blind. Supporters of advancing democracy will only be able to stand and watch, if minority-rule, anti-democracy forces succeed.
Given these set of facts, it is not enough to bemoan or even castigate Joe Manchin. We must be about the business of doing whatever is necessary to avert and counteract the unfolding Republican scenario.