Sharpton to Manchin and Sinema: If you support the filibuster, I'll hold town halls in your states accusing you of racism

Sharpton to Manchin and Sinema: If you support the filibuster, I'll hold town halls in your states accusing you of racism

Does he know that Trump won Joe Manchin’s home state by 40 points? Being known as an enemy of Sharpton isn’t going to hurt Manchin with the huge GOP majority there. To the contrary.

Relatedly, does Sharpton know what will happen to Democrats’ Senate majority if he manages to galvanize lefties to successfully primary Manchin or Sinema? *Maybe* Dems could hold Sinema’s seat, although they’d be losing the important advantage of incumbency in the general election. But primarying Manchin is as good as handing an extra seat to the GOP.

This is a fun development for righties, getting to watch as wokesters turn their rhetorical guns on their own in the name of demagoging Manchin and Sinema into submission on their new pet issue.

Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, said in an interview that he and others have begun talks to hold town halls and rallies in the home states of senators such as Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who have said they oppose scrapping the filibuster.

“The pressure that we are going to put on Sinema and Manchin is calling [the filibuster] racist and saying that they are, in effect, supporting racism,” Sharpton said. “Why would they be wedded to something that has those results? Their voters need to know that.”…

“Many of us, and certainly all of us in the civil rights leadership, are committed to policies and laws and causes, not to people’s political careers. We’re not into that. We want to change the country,” Sharpton said. “And if there is not feasible evidence that we’re doing that, it is not in our concern to be aggressively involved.”

His solution to his party not having enough votes to nuke the filibuster is to stop organizing and let the GOP make gains in the Senate in 2022? That’ll push Democrats even further from their goal, setting them back years.

Lotta empty threats here, although there’s evidence that the pressure is softening up some members of the caucus. Yesterday Angus King, the Democratic-aligned independent from Maine, wrote that he still supports the filibuster for now but is open to changing his mind if the GOP engages in serial obstruction. And importantly, he seemed to make an exception for the Dems’ top priority: “I should mention that I believe voting rights are a special case that we must address in light of the nakedly partisan voter-suppression legislation pending in many states. All-out opposition to reasonable voting rights protections cannot be enabled by the filibuster; if forced to choose between a Senate rule and democracy itself, I know where I will come down.” That’s what Stacey Abrams has been asking for — not nuking the filibuster, which the caucus probably can’t be persuaded to do, but making a special exception to it for voting-rights bills the same way there’s a special exception for budget reconciliation. King seems inclined to do that. How about Manchin?

He gave Republicans a scare yesterday when he was asked about it and replied, “I think all of us should be able to be united around voting rights, but it should be limited to voting rights.” That sounded like he was ready to take the Stacey Abrams approach too, in which case the path would suddenly be clear for the Democrats’ omnibus voting-rights reform bill, H.R. 1, to pass the Senate after all. But hold on. Manchin’s not a fan of H.R. 1; in the same interview yesterday, he said that the bill “might divide us even further on a partisan basis,” which is the opposite of what he wants on election reform. Today CNN asked him for clarification: Is he open to passing a voting bill with 50 votes or not? For once, Manchin was unambiguous.

Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat, told CNN repeatedly in an interview that “no,” he will not cave to pressure to gut the 60-vote threshold, even if Republicans block a voting rights bill. Democrats had hoped that a likely GOP filibuster on their party’s bill to expand voting access and overhaul the elections would be enough to convince Manchin and others to do away with the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold — given the onslaught of Republican-led efforts on the state level to impose new restrictions…

“No, it will not, no, no,” said Manchin, who also wants changes to his party’s election bill, S.1., before considering supporting it. “They are reading that totally wrong.”

Go figure that the threat from Al Sharpton, political cancer in red states like West Virginia, didn’t move him. And it’s not just Manchin (and Sinema): Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire also told CNN that she’s not in favor of eliminating the filibuster while Shaheen’s colleague, Maggie Hassan, has “concerns” about doing so. Manchin’s the lightning rod for the left because he’s the most conservative member of the caucus, but skepticism about eliminating the filibuster runs deeper on the blue side of the Senate than just him and Sinema.

Faced with the real possibility that they’re not going to be able to strong-arm Manchin, Shaheen, and others into going nuclear to pass H.R. 1, Democratic leaders have started flailing. Chuck Schumer was asked this morning why it was okay for his caucus to filibuster everything in sight but not for Republicans to do it, to which Schumer replied that his caucus is always willing to compromise whereas McConnell’s isn’t. Er, what?

Biden was asked about it this afternoon at his press conference and highlighted the insane number of filibusters there were last year, emphasizing that he’d prefer to revert to a “talking filibuster” to solve the problem. But a talking filibuster probably won’t solve the problem; if anything, it’ll slow down Biden’s agenda further. And … the party that was responsible for last year’s filibusters was his own party, not the GOP. Schumer was in the minority in 2020, remember?

The best rejoinder to Biden actually came last night, before he gave that answer. Ben Sasse went to the Senate floor and spent a solid hour defending the filibuster — not in his own words, but by reciting a 2005 speech delivered by, you guessed it, Sen. Joe Biden. He didn’t adapt it at all either, even leaving in the references from Biden’s speech to the “32 years” he’s served in the Senate. Politicians frequently point out each other’s hypocrisy but rarely are they provided with so much material that they can spend a full hour doing it. It’s a good speech too! But as President Biden might say to Senator Biden, where you stand depends on where you sit.

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Jazz Shaw 1:01 PM on April 01, 2023