There is Reality, and then there is Joe Manchin’s position on the Filibuster

Earlier this week, I found myself watching an interview with West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Lately, I “find myself” in all sorts of odd situations. I really need to pay more attention to what goes on around me.

At a certain point in the interview, I “found myself” screaming at the television. When I was a small boy, I believed that the people I saw on the screen were actually inside the TV. I obviously don’t believe that anymore, but I’m not positive about it, and I didn’t want to take any chances in case Senator Manchin could hear me.

He was defending his continuing support for the filibuster and on first blush, his arguments almost sounded noble.

He talked about how the Senate was intended to be a “deliberative body” where the views of the minority were to be “taken into consideration”. Requiring 60 votes to pass a bill would ensure that some of the minority’s “objections would be addressed” and some of their “priorities included” in the final “compromise” bill. This would ensure that what finally became law would be a more moderate bill with more broad-based support and more buy-in from the American people.

That sounds awesome!! The problem is that absolutely none of it bears any relationship to the way the filibuster actually works in 2021.

Think of it this way. A lot of Vladimir Putin’s political political adversaries
“find themselves” falling off of balconies from a high floor (or repeatedly from a low floor, but the result is the same). You can make a compelling argument that more warning signs about the dangers of balconies would inform people, cause them to be more careful and save people’s lives. But all of this ignores the fact that these people are being pushed off of the balcony. Knowing that, putting up “Warning. Balcony!” signs really doesn’t seem like the answer after all.

Senator Manchin supports a theoretical filibuster, like it used to be on Leave it to Beaver, which did almost as many shows on the filibuster as on the Beave’s bike breaking down. But here’s how the filibuster works now:

The senate minority, led by that rascal Mitch McConnell, has no interest in deliberating, or seeing his caucus’s concerns addressed, or using thoughtful and constructive deliberation to arrive at a better bill that has more broad-based support.

There is only one goal, and that is to stop ANY bill from ever moving at all. The Republican caucus’ position is “there is no negotiation, no accommodation, no compromise you could possibly make that would matter. You will never get 10 votes from us.” It’s as if Eddie Haskell said “Fuck your Bike Beave!” and kicked it down the hill.

So there will not be a “better bill”. That is not one of the options. The actual options are:

1. The Democrats will pass the agenda they promised the American people they would in the campaign, or

2. Mitch McConnell will have a veto over the entirety of the Democratic agenda, and absolutely nothing will get passed.

Maybe Senator Manchin prefers option #2. But at least lets not pretend that there is some third, kum-bye-ya option that doesn’t exist.

Finally, while we “find ourselves” dealing in reality, do not be frightened by McConnell’s threats to unleash the Kraken on the Senate. Whatever McConnell is threatening to do if the filibuster is eliminated, he will do anyway as soon as he has the majority. Denying Supreme Court nominee Merick Garland a confirmation vote with a full year left in Obama’s term because “the people deserve to have a say”, but then confirming Amy Coney-Barrett with three weeks to go in Trump’s term tells you everything you need to know about what McConnell will do if has the power. It’s time the Democrats stop dealing with the world as it should be, and deal with it as it is.

Long-time state House and Senate member, author of PA’s Medical Marijuana law, also creator of “shit-gibbon!” Comedian, professor, father of 2 awesome children!

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