“Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday defended his decision to vote against a sweeping voting rights bill and reiterated his opposition to gutting the filibuster, declaring in the strongest terms that he is not willing to change Senate rules to help his party push through much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.” — CNN, 6/6/21
Throughout my long career in politics, I have always been guided by the basic principle of doing what is best for the people I serve. And the best for the people I serve also happens to be what is best for my political career.
Just because I’m a Democrat doesn’t mean I believe in guaranteeing that every American has the right to vote. When I was West Virginia’s Secretary of State, I did many small things to expand access to voting that I’m going to list here so you forget that I’m actively working on the national level to stall and dismantle sweeping voting legislation from passing.
I am a Democrat, but I’m not that kind of Democrat.
Congressional action on voting rights will not come from the 800-page For the People Act; it will come from members of both sides of the aisle working together while Kyrsten Sinema and I hide in the bathroom and, as a result, I wind up smelling like Patchouli oil for days.
It’s these types of sacrifices I am willing to make for my constituents to help keep everything stagnant in Washington.
People much wiser than I am have said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and I have absolutely been corrupted by the very little power I have. On one hand, Democrats want to expand voting rights so every American has an equal opportunity to make their voice heard. On the other, Republicans think expanding voting rights is a bad idea because then they will lose. So, you see, it’s quite a pickle I’m in.
Some in my party argue that we must discard the time-honored political tradition of the filibuster, which southern Senators used to block civil rights legislation and anti-lynching bills. Respectfully, I disagree. I’m so averse to conflict I’d rather we just filibuster until I die.
I mean, we got Joe Biden into office. Isn’t that enough?
If I’ve learned anything in politics, it’s that our party labels should not stop us from doing what is right. In this case, they should also not stop us from doing what is wrong. The right to vote has become so overly politicized that innocent lawmakers like me have to tank groundbreaking voting legislation so that Mitch McConnell will invite me over for dinner again.
Call me “stubborn,” or “naïve,” or a “power-hungry coward enjoying his time in the national spotlight,” but I truly believe that if Congress can put aside its differences and work together, we Democrats can lose spectacularly in 2024.