What Joe Manchin gets exactly right

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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told CNN that the deadly attack on January 6th at the US Capitol "changed" him, saying, "you can't have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other" as he calls for Democrats and Republicans to work together on top legislative priorities in a divided Washington.

Posted: Apr 9, 2021 9:41 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2021 9:41 PM

US Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is in the catbird's seat -- the pivotal politician in a 50-50 Senate. He's the keeper of the keys to President Joe Biden's policy kingdom, whether the President or the progressives pressuring him like it or not.

And thank goodness there's at least one Democrat with his own mind, unblinded by rank partisanship. Manchin, if he's sincere, appears to be clear-eyed about the poisonous politics infecting both parties.

"January 6 changed me. I never thought in my life, I never read in history books to where our form of government had been attacked, at our seat of government, which is Washington, DC, at our Capitol, by our own people," Manchin told CNN's Lauren Fox, adding, "So, something told me, 'Wait a minute. Pause. Hit the pause button.' Something's wrong. You can't have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other."

Manchin is, of course, still a committed Democrat at heart, more likely than not to support liberal policies. But his hesitation to remake the Senate into a carbon copy of the US House of Representatives, where bills pass with a simple majority and bipartisanship is nowhere to be found, is refreshing.

Manchin risks little politically by standing in the way of his party's progressives who seek to move the nation too far to the left. His home state of West Virginia, after all, is full of Republican voters who overwhelmingly voted for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.

But he certainly risks headaches, chiefly from left-wing partisans who have no interest in reaching out to Republicans to seek compromise. After an election that produced Democratic control but relative stasis in Washington, DC (an even Senate, nearly an even House and a presidency built on 44,000 votes in a handful of states), many liberals would discard the average conservative's ideas in a New York minute, giving little thought or care to what that would do to America's body politic.

Whether Manchin ultimately compiles a center-left voting record is irrelevant. I expect him to vote for most, if not all, of Biden's agenda, as Manchin himself tries to shape -- and perhaps moderate -- some of the administration's most progressive ideas.

Most consequential are Manchin's views on the Senate itself -- and his unwillingness to allow the character of the unique body to be changed by eliminating the legislative filibuster rule or using the process of reconciliation to steamroll the minority party.

Reconciliation was "never intended to be our main focus or our main vehicle for legislation. That's not legislating. It has to be used from time to time. I understand that," Manchin told CNN. But, he added, there is "a time and a place."

The Senate was designed as the cooling saucer, in former President George Washington's estimation, to sit under the House's sloshing hot coffee cup. The passions of the people boil over in the House, producing legislation that can be cooled, improved and made palatable in the Senate.

In theory, the two chambers wind up legislating in a way that satisfies the most people, and at least gives comfort to those unhappy with the outcome that their voice was at least heard and considered. The House was made to ignore minority viewpoints and the Senate was made to listen and act accordingly.

"I've watched people that had power and abused it," Manchin said. "I've watched people that sought power and destroyed themselves, and I've watched people that have a moment of time to make a difference and change things and used it -- I would like to be the third."

Our closely divided country could benefit from leaders who can produce outcomes that solve problems without trampling on half the country's views. Getting rid of the filibuster and abusing reconciliation is simply not keeping with the spirit of the body, and Manchin knows it.

Yes, the Senate was made for this moment in our divided nation, and perhaps it was made for someone just like Manchin, who, if he keeps his word on these vital procedural matters, will be long remembered as a leader who strengthened an institution -- instead of joining the angry mob of his own party trying to burn it down.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313942

Reported Deaths: 7240
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21580258
Hinds20330415
Harrison17879309
Rankin13594278
Jackson13429246
Madison10088217
Lee9970174
Jones8370163
Forrest7670152
Lauderdale7188241
Lowndes6387146
Lamar622486
Lafayette6184118
Washington5332133
Bolivar4801132
Oktibbeha462198
Panola4582106
Pearl River4506146
Marshall4435103
Warren4386121
Pontotoc420172
Monroe4107133
Union410076
Neshoba4030176
Lincoln3962110
Hancock378486
Leflore3493125
Sunflower335990
Tate333384
Pike3316105
Scott315773
Alcorn312768
Yazoo311469
Itawamba299777
Copiah296865
Coahoma295179
Simpson294988
Tippah288168
Prentiss279760
Adams278782
Marion269080
Leake267473
Wayne262641
Grenada261386
Covington258281
George247848
Newton246261
Winston227081
Tishomingo226667
Jasper221048
Attala214273
Chickasaw207757
Holmes188873
Clay185254
Stone182433
Tallahatchie178541
Clarke177980
Calhoun170532
Yalobusha164238
Smith162334
Walthall133945
Greene130533
Lawrence128524
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123042
Carroll121828
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107033
Tunica105226
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96533
Kemper95728
Franklin83623
Quitman80716
Choctaw76318
Wilkinson67230
Jefferson65528
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 531404

Reported Deaths: 10985
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson765501522
Mobile41036805
Madison34789503
Tuscaloosa25788453
Montgomery24340589
Shelby23449249
Baldwin21154308
Lee15882171
Calhoun14511314
Morgan14306279
Etowah13843353
Marshall12232223
Houston10570281
Elmore10068205
Limestone9974151
Cullman9676194
St. Clair9661243
Lauderdale9427241
DeKalb8831186
Talladega8227176
Walker7241277
Autauga6926108
Jackson6814112
Blount6678137
Colbert6306134
Coffee5519119
Dale4838111
Russell441538
Chilton4296112
Franklin426082
Covington4129118
Tallapoosa4023152
Escambia393677
Chambers3573123
Dallas3551152
Clarke351161
Marion3122101
Pike310977
Lawrence300398
Winston274473
Bibb260964
Geneva250477
Marengo249564
Pickens234461
Barbour231057
Hale223077
Butler216069
Fayette212562
Henry188844
Cherokee185245
Randolph180542
Monroe177540
Washington167339
Macon159650
Clay156756
Crenshaw152557
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138853
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110529
Perry107726
Coosa107628
Sumter104732
Greene92534
Choctaw60724
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