Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) might just be the luckiest man in Washington, D.C. Indeed, over the next two years, he probably won’t have to pay for a single meal because his colleagues from both sides of the aisle will be clamoring to buy him dinner and drinks.
The senator’s position as a moderate willing to vote with Republicans at times has possibly made him the most powerful lawmaker in the upper chamber. But what will this mean for the Democratic Party’s agenda?
Will Manchin Determine the Democratic Party’s Future?
With a 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate, Manchin’s vote will be aggressively sought when it comes to passing pieces of legislation critical to the Democrats’ policy agenda. In an increasingly divided government, the lawmaker will be the barometer by which Democrats decide what types of bills to push.
“The West Virginia senator has become the central character in Democrats’ control of Washington, a conservative throwback who speaks his mind and is maddeningly frustrating to liberals. He sided with his party to give them a critical vote toward approving President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan, but is already vowing to cut back Democrats’ dreams of a $15 minimum wage and limit who gets direct checks.”
Manchin’s colleagues have long recognized that he’s not exactly a “toe the party line” type of guy. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) told Politico, “He’s kind of the Democratic version of John McCain.” He added, “I say that partially in jest. But partially it’s true: Joe’s a hard guy to figure out how to lead. You know? He dances to his own music.”
In previous years, Manchin’s tendency to go his own way didn’t have much of an impact on most legislation. But in the post-Trump era, with the Democrats holding on to the Senate by a thread, he has become more powerful than Emperor Palpatine with the Death Star.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is in a position where he will have to look to Manchin to pass anything meaningful. The Democrats will need his support to enact President Joe Biden’s policies.
Still, representing a state that former President Donald Trump won twice, Manchin will not lend his support to the far-left initiatives that the progressive wing of the party is trying to force on Biden. In fact, the senator will be one of the few lawmakers who takes out the hose and waters down the left’s more ambitious bills.
Is The Moderate Wing More Powerful Than It Seems?
There is no question that the far-left progressive faction of the Democratic Party has power. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the rest of the Squad certainly get the most media attention. But are they truly as powerful as many believe?
The more moderate establishment wing of the party, while not quite as loud as their colleagues, seems to be wielding most of the power at the moment. Indeed, many have pushed back on the progressive crowd’s more socialist tendencies, rebuking them for pushing initiatives like defunding the police.
Manchin is a staunch moderate who is more amenable to bipartisan solutions than many of his compatriots. But he is not the only one. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) recently emerged as a moderate voice on the left after she took office in 2019 and has not shied away from bucking her party when she deems it necessary.
Over the next two years, the Democrats will use their control over the White House and both chambers of Congress to ram through as much legislation as possible. This will probably lead to a shellacking of Obama-esque proportions in 2022, but they are likely hoping that the policies they put in place are worth the losses.
However, with people like Manchin in the Senate, the far-left elements in the Democratic Party will not get all they want out of the deal. In essence, he might just be the person who saves the nation from the impact of progressivism.
Read more from Jeff Charles.