I don't usually agree with Josh Marshall's panics. He cries "wolf" every time he passes the zoo. But you have to remember, every time he points to a wolf, there's a wolf. And based on his reporting for the last couple of days, I agree that if Senators Manchin (D?-WV) and Sinema (D?-AZ) don't get behind their own President's agenda, then maybe the President needs to paint them with their own sabotage:
Sen. Manchin just put out a statement, scorching in its appraisal of the proposed reconciliation bill and making me think for the first time that this entire thing – both bills – may go down in flames. It’s a lot of the same stuff: debt, inflation, mean taxations, means-testing. But the volume is turned … well, up to 11. It’s not remotely the statement of someone who is on the verge of finding common ground with the rest of the caucus.
Through this whole saga Manchin has been riffing, saying what comes into his head on a given day. There’s no real strategy or logic to it. That’s why there’s little consistency. But the riffing, the saying what comes into your head each given day is particularly perilous at a moment like this. Because you’re navigating with emotion. You’re navigating with the consensus of establishment Washington which has been dour at best on President Biden since mid-summer.
There was a deal, an agreed upon framework. The Manchin-Sinema-Gottheimer troika got their bill. And as soon as they did they backed out of the deal. That is how we got here. We knew it would be hard to come to an agreement, a lot of tense moments and standoffs. What we’ve actually seen is rather different. They’re not having a hard time coming to an agreement. The troika is refusing to negotiate.
Obviously, the problem with the Democratic Party is that we try to negotiate in good faith, and we get all ferklempt when the other guys fuck us. So maybe we should just continue to negotiate in good faith and not act surprised when the other guys fuck us, especially when the guys doing the fucking claim to be members of our party. Like, you can offer a good-faith negotiation and still have a baseball bat in your left hand. Don't start the fight, but FFS, end it.
What if we just ejected Sinema and Manchin from the party and painted them with the failure of Congress to pass legislation that an overwhelming majority of Americans want passed? What if we just started acting like we won every election since 2006?
Someday, good historians will figure out what actually happened in the mid-21st Century. I may even live long enough to read those histories. And I hope against reason that those well-researched histories find strong evidence that people like Manchin and Sinema voted against the will of most Americans because they believed strongly and correctly in their positions at the time. But the evidence I see right now, right in front of me, says that Sinema and Manchin have no such integrity.
Manchin, maybe he gets a pass. He has a tough gig right now as an out Democrat in West Virginia, though given the behavior of the Republican Party there for the past 10 years I can't think why. (By that I mean, I cannot think of any organization more hostile to the interests of ordinary West Virginia workers than the Republican party.) And yet, West Virginia workers keep voting for the people who keep them in poverty. Manchin may believe that he can help his constituents by holding up a bill that could pay for their child care, but I'm having trouble following his logic.
Hey, Senator Durbin? I've voted for you a bunch of times, could you please do your job and whip Sinema into line like the Majority Whip is supposed to do? She's polling in the 40s in her home state. There's some whippin' to do.
Here's the thing. The Democratic Party believes we Americans are better than this, and the Republican Party keeps trying to get people to believe we aren't. That's why the Republicans have only won one national election since 1988. Because we are better than this.
We're more ready for a true left-of-center party than we've been since TR. If Sinema and Manchin blow up this administration, it's time for a new party.
I love it when people point to Lyndon Johnson's presidency and how he controlled the agenda without acknowledging that the Democratic Party had 68 Senate seats and a similar majority in the House. Oh, and many of those guys were white supremacists who promptly left the party after Johnson forced them to vote for the Civil Rights Act. Also, Johnson had a progressive Supreme Court and not a lot of pushback from the communities of color who were just trying not to get their heads bashed in whenever they protested the injustices they faced daily.
Yes, I'm saying that the Civil Rights Act was easier to pass in an unjust era, for the same reason the 13th Amendment passed before Appomattox. When you're losing, you prioritize the things you're giving away to hold on to what you can.
The Republican Party is doing exactly that. Let me repeat myself: when you're losing, you prioritize the things you're giving away to hold on to what you can. The behavior of the Republican Party over the last 20 years is exactly that. They can't win on policy, so they've stopped telling people why they want power, because the "why" would lose votes. They just keep grabbing power, any way they can, because they know they won't get their agenda through otherwise.
A healthy democracy requires a healthy debate. We don't have that right now. I'm worried we've lost it permanently, but hopeful we haven't. Regardless, "healthy debate" means the Republican Party needs to explain what they want, as does the Democratic Party, and let the people decide. And if the people overwhelmingly reject your point of view, you sit down and reformulate your argument. This, I submit, is why the Republican Party refuses to state its position: because most people disagree.
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. What does it tell you that the Republican Party keeps trying it?