What the Democrats, starting with President Biden, ought to have done on January 21, 2021 was to sit down with Manchin and ask “What can you support?” If that meant Manchin basically had veto power over some Democrats’ priorities, so be it, because, ladies and gentlemen, he had it anyway, and now he has used it—except almost a year has been wasted.
The Democrats look weak and divided as well as petty and ineffectual. They set goals that were beyond their means, and their seeming failure has become their identity. They’re being branded by what they failed to do rather than by what they did.
This is political malpractice. The Democrats have actually passed quite a lot of legislation in the last 11 months, starting with the American Rescue Plan Act. They extended the Paycheck Protection Program, made Juneteenth a federal holiday, and passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. That legislation contained a number of longtime progressive priorities, such as $39 billion for public transit, $47 billion for climate change mitigation and cyber security, $15 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, and $55 billion for upgrading water infrastructure including replacing all of the lead pipes in the nation (a matter of keen interest for poor people who are the most likely to live in places relying on old, lead pipes, which are known to cause brain damage in children).