Democrats are committing political suicide

Still, it is morbidly fascinating to watch a political party implode in real time. In the summer of 2017, congressional Republicans tried repeatedly to overturn the Affordable Care Act even as their poll numbers tanked. At the time, 55 percent of Americans supported the ACA, which gained support as President Trump, already deeply unpopular, vowed to destroy it. When a handful of Senate moderates, including Susan Collins (R-Maine), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.) put the kibosh on the ill-considered push to take health care away from millions of people, they were preventing their comrades from making a colossal misstep that would have all but ensured midterm losses in both the House and Senate.

There is no such silver lining here for Democrats. The party’s dueling left and right flanks are standing in the way of good legislation, which is supported by public supermajorities. The 10-year, $3.5 trillion spending package currently being held hostage by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and his friends includes wildly popular priorities like expanding Medicare to include dental and vision coverage (favored by 90 percent of respondents), universal pre-K education (which boasts 84 percent support), federal investment in affordable child care (80 percent), lowering prescription drug prices through negotiation (88 percent), instituting tuition-free community college (63 percent), as well as creating paid paternal (69 percent), maternal (82 percent), and other family leave policies…

After their ACA debacle, Republicans turned their attention to the enduring project of cutting taxes on rich people and corporations, which they did by the skin of their teeth in December 2017. Democrats have no such fallback. Manchin wants to hit the “strategic pause” button on his party’s agenda, but it is not clear what he would want to focus on instead, or what anyone on Team Blue could possibly do or say to spur him to action on anything at all.