Are progressives willing to listen to Joe Manchin’s advice? Find ways to work across the aisle? At least recognize the math of the US Senate? If Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) provides any indication, the answer is not just no but hell no.
One can understand a bit of frustration with Manchin’s opposition to the radical HR1/S1 bill, but “the new Mitch McConnell”? To quote Joe Biden himself, who largely incentivized this attack with his three-Pinocchio lie last week … Come on, man:
JUST NOW: whoa.
"Joe Manchin has become the new Mitch McConnell…Joe Manchin is doing everything in his power to stop democracy."
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) June 7, 2021
Be sure to watch when John Berman tries offering a little political reality into the conversation. What Democrat could win a Senate seat in West Virginia, he asks Bowman, and without it how could Democrats control the Senate? Bowman refuses to answer that question, instead talking about how popular HR1/S1 is.
Bowman’s demagoguery makes Ramesh Ponnuru’s argument about Manchin’s wisdom at Bloomberg even more acute. The hyperbolic reactions from progressives to opposition of HR1/S1 essentially proves why Manchin needs to demand regular order and legislative collaboration. And that applies in both directions:
The worst thing about Republicans’ voting bills in the states is their tendency to diminish public confidence in an election system that is working pretty well. They diminish that confidence both because some Republicans, in promoting them, are exaggerating the need for reforms, and because some Democratic voters, watching party-line votes to change procedures, understandably fear the worst.
It would be much worse to do the same thing at the national level. For starters, many provisions in the Democrats’ voting bill, the For the People Act, are unconstitutional. Courts already found one of them, a regulation of online political ads, to be unconstitutional when Maryland tried it.
Manchin thinks the bill is too broad and too partisan. Those aren’t its only problems: It’s also a potential administrative nightmare for state election officials. But he is correct on both counts.
Bowman’s rant here is just as hyperbolic and untethered to reality as the idea that this bill does nothing but guarantee the right to vote. Manchin’s clearly not aiming to prevent Joe Biden from succeeding, but then again, Manchin doesn’t represent The Great State of Joe Biden either. He represents a conservative state with voters whose electoral concerns not only aren’t represented in HR1/S1 but are attacked by it. Section 1903, for instance, would invalidate very popular voter-ID requirements in states by federal fiat, requiring states to accept a “sworn written statement” in place of forms of identification.
If Bowman thinks Manchin is just another Mitch McConnell, that doesn’t measure Manchin’s distance from Biden. It measures Bowman’s distance from the political center and reality.