Manchin's Bipartisan Delusion

[ Posted Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 – 14:46 UTC ]

Today, the United States Senate staged a Kabuki vote for the benefit of one senator. It will probably come as no surprise to hear that Senator Joe Manchin was the reason for this doomed attempt to pass new voting rights legislation. This is, in fact, the second such Kabuki vote this year on the subject, the only difference being this time around the Senate voted on the compromise plan Manchin himself had drafted. And, just like before, it failed along strict party lines. The entire exercise was designed to prove to Manchin that this was exactly what was going to happen.

Manchin is downright delusional in his belief that voting rights legislation of any kind will garner a single Republican vote in this Congress. Theoretically, according to Manchin's delusion, he was supposed to water down the original Democratic bill and add in a few Republican ideas, all in order to garner Republican support. He would have needed ten of them for this effort to succeed. In the end, he got precisely zero of them -- which is exactly what everyone not named "Joe Manchin" had predicted would happen all along.

Manchin was given all summer to round up all this mythical bipartisan support for his bill. Which means the entire summer was flat-out wasted chasing an impossibility. Again, everyone knew what the outcome of this pointless exercise was going to be, except Joe Manchin. Now it has been proven to him, once again. But he will in all likelihood remain trapped in his delusion and refuse to do the one thing that could break this logjam -- reform the filibuster rules to allow voting rights legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority.

Manchin supports the current filibuster rules, it (ironically) bears pointing out, in supposed defense of bipartisanship. He's got some real twisted-pretzel logic for why this is so, and the question now is whether he will face the reality that bipartisan voting rights reform is just not going to happen without filibuster reform, period.

The Republican Party has (at the insistence of their own delusional de facto leader) made their own version of "election reform" the centerpiece of their party's platform for the near future. Except that their version is all about making it harder to vote, not easier. The entire party is heavily invested in the Big Lie that the 2020 election was somehow "stolen" from them, all evidence to the contrary (and it is indeed all of the evidence). It would be a political impossibility for them to change course at this point and support voting rights legislation which has essentially been designed to undo all their voter-suppression efforts at the state level. Why would they have bothered to pass all those new state laws if Senate Republicans were just going to toss them out? That wouldn't make much sense.

This is why Manchin's quest for bipartisanship on this issue is nothing short of delusional. He is refusing to accept the reality of the situation, plain and simple. That's what today's vote was designed to prove to him, once and for all. No word yet on whether it changed his mind one iota or not, though. And "not" is probably the safe bet, there.

Joe Manchin has -- singlehandedly -- wasted so much time proving his delusion was, in fact, delusional that we have probably already lost the chance to affect the 2022 elections, at least to the degree that was initially proposed. Back at the start of the year, the once-in-a-decade redistricting process hadn't even begun. It is now complete in several states, and well on its way to being complete in many others. The new district lines are already being drawn, so any new federal law would almost certainly leave them where they are for another ten long years. This is a tragic missed opportunity, and it can all be laid at the feet of Manchin. Democrats may lose control of the House of Representatives for a decade, all due to Manchin's waffling and delays.

Some of the reforms -- the ones dealing with Election Day itself -- could likely still be implemented, which would at least be something. But that window won't be open forever, either. Primary season is going to begin early next year, and it's tough to change election laws once the entire process has gotten underway.

What needs to happen now is for Chuck Schumer to tell Manchin that the time for delay is over, and that he'll be bringing up a rule change to expand the loophole for bills that cannot be filibustered to include basic constitutional rights such as voting rights. Manchin and the rest of the Democrats will have to go on the record as being either for this change or against it. And if they vote against it, they will do so knowing it will kill any chance for voting reform for the rest of the current Congress. No new rules will be in place for the 2022 midterms, and if Republicans regain control of either chamber, then no voting rights reforms will pass until after the 2024 presidential election, either.

This has been what obviously needed to happen all along. Manchin demanded enough time to convince ten Republicans to vote for his bill, and he failed miserably at this delusional task. There is now no other possible way forward than changing the filibuster rules. Today's vote proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Joe Manchin now has a decision to make. Will voting rights legislation pass or won't it? Will he allow his own bill to die, or will he be the one to rescue it from oblivion? This is not some budgetary issue that Manchin can split ideological hairs on -- this is a bill he wrote. He has to assumably be in favor of passing it, in other words.

But there's only one way left to do that. The time for stalling is over. The time for chasing bipartisan moonbeams and wild geese has come to an end. Either the bill passes or it doesn't. It's now up to Manchin to decide which he wants to see happen. His delusional farce has run its course, and now the hard decision that was there all along will have to be made.

In other words, it's time to put up or shut up, Joe.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


14 Comments on “Manchin's Bipartisan Delusion”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    He's also delusional when it comes to climate change.

    How is it possible for an ordinately intelligent Democratic member of the US senate to be against clean electricity, even if you happen to represent people in a coal state? I mean, explain that to me like I'm a six-year-old. Ahem.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Staying on the climate change file, isn't there a way to be for Biden's climate proposals AND be a good senator for people working in the coal industry?

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I mean, coal miners and everyone else living in West Virginia will be living with the damaging impacts of climate change, just like the rest of us.

  4. [4] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    It's a little unclear what the point of this essay is. In conclusion, it calls for Manchin to "put up or shut up" - vote to alter the terms of the filibuster, or stop claiming the interest in voting reform that his bill seems to embody.

    But throughout the arguments leading to the conclusion, the essay makes clear that Manchin's decision is utterly predictable, to the point where there is actually no decision for him to make:
    - "...he will in all likelihood remain trapped in his delusion"
    - "He is refusing to accept the reality of the situation, plain and simple"
    - "...whether it changed his mind one iota or not, though. And 'not' is probably the safe bet, there."

    So, since the essay clearly doesn't believe in its own conclusion, it can't be addressing Manchin in the sense of urging him to come around. Rather, it just seems calculated to express and arouse the anger of Democratic liberals, like most of the readers of this column, against Manchin in anticipation of his coming votes later this season, when he refuses to alter the filibuster no matter what he is supposed to have learned later this week about the realities of bipartisanship in today's Senate and political arena.

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Not only that it says that if Manchin were to come around on the filibuster then his compromise bill could be passed without the Republikillers that were not swayed by the compromises.

    If the Republikillers aren't needed with filibuster reform why include the compromises?

  6. [6] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    So if the Republikillers are not to come around and Manchin is not going to come around so that nothing will be done before 2024 as nothing tangible has been done since before 1984 (or we wouldn't still have the same problems), it seems that the only hope of getting anything accomplished in 2022 or 2024 is One Demand.


  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    It is time for you to give up on your bipartisan delusion that the Deathocrats and Republikillers are opposition parties when they both work for the big money interests offering a false choice.

    How many more years will go by before you recognize the pattern of Deathocrats dropping the ball is not by accident?

    How much longer will you keep providing cover for the Deathocrats allowing them to get people's votes for nothing?


  8. [8] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz (2)-
    No, it's not possible.

    A good senator for coal workers or anyone would be against fracking and that is not in Biden's proposals putting Biden on the wrong side in the War on Habitat.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I think it is not only possible but, a pretty easy case to make, in the grand scheme of things.

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    an easy case to make to whom? certainly not as easy as pie.

  11. [11] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    An easy case to make to those that are easily fooled.

  12. [12] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    If it is such an easy case to make, then it should be no problem for you to explain this at :

    SECRET RECORDING: Exxon exec reveals how politicians are bought

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Why would I want to explain it there?

  14. [14] 
    Kick wrote:


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