Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is unique among Democrat lawmakers because he represents a red state and enjoys a level of respect from Republicans.
When it came to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, he was pressured by both sides. As we already know, Manchin voted to confirm the newly-appointed Supreme Court Justice. But was he voting because he did not believe the claims made by Kavanaugh’s accuser? Was he concerned about the notion of due process? Or did he just vote for Kavanaugh because he did not want to risk losing his upcoming re-election?
Manchin Bucks His Party
The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh with a 50-48 vote. With a large enough Republican majority voting yea – and Sen. Liza Murkowski (R-AZ) withholding her nay vote – Senator Manchin’s approval wasn’t necessary to confirm the newly minted associate justice. Nevertheless, he voted in favor of the confirmation, much to the consternation of his party.
While it is impossible to read Manchin’s mind, the facts of the story seem to indicate that he made his decision based more on principle than simple politics. He was already well ahead in the polls leading up to the midterm. It’s likely that he would still win, even if he hadn’t voted to confirm Kavanaugh.
It is also worth pointing out that his Democrat colleagues in red states are not faring well after voting against the confirmation. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who had enjoyed a healthy lead over her opponent, Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND), is now trailing him. Of course, she did make a series of mistakes that have also contributed to her drop in popularity.
Despite flaws in the claims of Kavanaugh’s accusers, many on the far left were willing to discard the idea of due process.
Manchin’s vote shows that there are still Democratic leaders who have not yet abandoned the core principles to which most of the country holds. In the story of Kavanaugh, it was the notion of due process that was on the line.
Despite the flaws in the claims of Kavanaugh’s accusers, many on the far left were willing to discard the idea of due process. Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault. Therefore, he was guilty. They were willing to jettison the idea of innocent until proven guilty to further their political agenda.
Manchin’s refusal to toe the party line in this regard is an encouraging sign. It shows that there is at least one senator in the Democratic Party that stands on principle, rather than politics. Hopefully, more Democrats will follow his example.