With a 50-50 spilt in the Senate, every vote counts. Though dead heats can be tilted in favor of the Democrat party thanks to the vice president’s tie-breaking vote, what happens when a lone senator decides to defy the party will and follow his conscience? That’s the situation with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D), who appears to be under mounting pressure from both his own party and the full-court press of the Fourth Estate.
In a partnership that, for the constitutionally minded, may seem too comfortable by half, the nation’s media is working in lockstep with leading Democrat politicians to force Manchin to play nice. Whether it is disparaging him on the airwaves or suggesting he may as well join the GOP, the senator’s critics are forcing him to walk a lonely path.
ABC News runs with the headline, “Power of one: Manchin is singularly halting Biden’s agenda,” and laments that despite the president agreeing to all his terms, Manchin remains a petulant hold out. Other media opt for a more character-assassination approach, such as MSNBC’s “Joe Manchin’s coal ties are worse than we thought — yet legal.” It seems Manchin will be column-shamed into either complying with the Biden administration’s demands or quitting the party altogether. CNN analyst and former Democratic staffer Kirsten Powers claimed the Democratic Party would “be better off” if he just jumped ship. Powers continued:
“Honestly, at this point I think it would be better off if he just became an independent or a Republican so that we can stop playing this game that Joe Biden has these Democrats that he’s not bringing around because there’s just no reason to not support this bill if you’re a Democrat.”
This sentiment was echoed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont, who went for the more guilt-inducing approach, saying, “Mr. Manchin and the Republicans and anybody else who thinks that struggling working families who are having a hard time raising their kids today should not be able to continue to get the help that they have, then that’s their view and they’ve got to come forward to the American people and say, ‘Hey, we don’t think you need help.’” Sanders, of course, despite running for the presidency under the Democratic Party banner, and voting with the Democrats on a regular basis, is still an “independent.”
Vice President Kamala Harris took umbrage at the suggestion from TV host “Charlamagne Tha God,” that Manchin held too much power. He asked Harris, “I want to know who the real president of this country is. Is it Joe Biden, or Joe Manchin?” In a disappointed tone of voice, the VP stressed it was, indeed, Joe Biden at the helm. She mildly rebuked the host, saying, “And don’t start talking like a Republican, about asking whether or not he’s president … and it’s Joe Biden, it’s Joe Biden and I’m vice president and my name is Kamala Harris.”
But if either party did indeed vote as a single united front every time, what then would be the point of senators or representatives? The governance of the United States involves lawmakers representing the interests of their constituents – it is, after all, those voters who send their chosen lawmaker to Washington D.C. Should elected officials choose to only represent their party’s interest, there would be no purpose in voting for anyone other than the president.
Democrats and the media are playing a dangerous game. Either Joe Manchin will buckle under the sustained pressure and the republic will be all the weaker for it, or he will hold firm to his views, and be a pariah in his own party until such time as his former friends and colleagues decide they can primary him with a more compliant candidate. For the American people, neither of these add to the spirit of liberty.
~ Read more from Mark Angelides.