Image courtesy of Business Insider
By Jack Rowing
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is no stranger to the opposition. His position as the only Democrat elected to a federal post for the state of West Virginia has made him a target of the right for many years now, as they tried to reclaim his seat. Joe Manchin won his seat in 2018 by three points. meanwhile at 2016 and 2020, Donald Trump has won the state by over 38 points each time.
Manchin spent the duration of the Trump administration doing an impressive balancing act to remain Democrat and West Virginia. He voted almost exactly 50 percent time with Donald Trump. He voted block funding for the border wall, ban abortions for the past twenty weeks and convict Donald Trump on impeachment. Now that President Joe Biden is trying to push his agenda beyond a 50-50 Senate, Manchin becomes the key vote for Republicans to block, change or amend the legislation. Manchin’s moderation would block major progressive proposals to end the filibuster, increase the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, and Biden’s energy plan. For almost every bill proposed by Democrats and Republicans, Manchin will either be one of the key votes or just the key vote. New Republic writer Sam Adler Bell nicknamed him “King of the Senate” others followed suit with numerous articles and tweets announcing him as the most powerful member of Congress.
However, Manchin’s ascent to the top did not protect him from acquiring enemies. The ‘No Excuses Pac’, famous or infamous for its role in electing representative Ocasio-Cortez, posted an ad targeting Manchin’s opposition to the $ 2,000 stimulus checks. They openly opposed Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, both of whom had openly opposed some of the progressives’ more aggressive policies, such as end the obstruction. One of their co-founders, Saikat Chakrabart, said he wanted “to threaten their power, to threaten the seat they occupy, to threaten their re-election.” Manchin, however, does not appear to be against ending the filibuster for political gain, his opposition this stems mainly from his belief in a federalist understanding of the contribution of minorities to legislation.
Corbin Trent, another pac co-founder, said on the show Rising that Manchin was “alone on an island” on the $ 2,000 checks. That’s why he reversed their opinion, and “if you want to pretend to be a Republican, you might as well pretend to be a populist Republican.” In a letter to their supporters, they called on them to find the next AOC to replace Manchin and Sinema.
This is not the first time that Manchin has faced the progressive left. Opposite manchin the Green New Deal, the Police Defund Movement and Medicare for All. Manchin too tweeted that the Ocasio-Cortez rep is more “active on Twitter than anything else”. Disagreements between Manchin and the progressive left have always been presented, but have intensified since Manchin was given such a crucial position.
While Manchin appears to be facing challenges from the far left, he also appears to have developed a disconnect with the current establishment. Vice President Kamala Harris has visited WSAZ and other West Virginia media to promote the Biden administration’s new energy plan. While this is not abnormal in itself, the office of the president and the office of the vice president did not contact Manchin to coordinate and / or discuss the media campaign. Vice President Harris’ office called WSAZ and scheduled the interview. When he saw the interview, Joe Manchin said how surprised he was that no one had contacted him. He later mentionned actions were “not a way of working together”. Harris’s appearance was not entirely flawless; a common vernacular error was made when discussing abandoned mined lands, which she characterized as “Land mines”. This little mistake revealed her as an outsider to the West Virginia viewer.
After Manchin’s comments, the The White House office called him, to remedy the communication fault before the interviews. Failure to work closely with Manchin would be dangerous for Biden’s agenda, while there are other possibilities to achieve goals, without other key votes, including Harris breaking equality and budget reconciliation, Manchin is the only vote, the inability to work with which is then immediately followed by a need for Republican support. A CNN Article by Harry Enten described the dangers of challenging Manchin in a primary. Manchin is one of the few Democrats in a state to have opted for Donald Trump. When the Justice Democrats had their own candidate Paula Jean Swearengein in her own Senate race, she lost by 43 points. While he opposes many more aggressive proposals from his own party, his support for moderate increases in the minimum wage, his opposition to the radical right, the fixing of healthcare and other Democratic proposals, make him a key ally in a state that would likely have gone to a Republican. In today’s polarized world, control of the House and Senate is conditional on achieving an agenda. His key roles on credits, armed forces and energy commissions make it essential to push Democratic plans to the ground. The relationship between Manchin and the Democratic Party will determine the effectiveness of the next two years, as well as their policies to fight COVID-19.