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No Man's Land

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“No man’s land” – the narrow, muddy, treeless stretch of land that separated German and Allied trenches during the First World War, a very dangerous place that offered little or no protection.

That is where Democrats find themselves in Congress, even with a slim majority in the House and an even split in the Senate. Since we have a filibuster rule in the Senate — invented to obstruct civil rights legislation — by requiring a 60-member vote just to do any business, the Senate minority will be able to block what 80 million voted for. (Note that the fifty Republican senators represent 40 million fewer people than do the fifty Democratic senators.)

Just to be clear, the filibuster rule is extraordinarily undemocratic.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) convinced himself that there were “Ten Little Patriotic” Republican senators who would vote for the “filibustered” bipartisan January 6 Commission. In my opinion, the Rs are playing “rope-a-dope” with the Dems.

The January 6 Commission passed the House with a bipartisan vote. The failed vote in the Senate had six brave Republicans, but that was four short of the Ten Little Patriotic Republicans needed. “Choosing to put politics and elections above the health of our Democracy is unconscionable, and the betrayal of the oath we each take is something they will have to live with,” said Manchin.

“Aw Shucks” Joe also took an oath of office to defend this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Why allow the filibuster to give Republicans a veto over what most Americans support: a 1/6 commission, voting rights, and infrastructure?

Democrats shaped the Jan. 6 bill to make Republicans happy, but the Republicans killed it anyway. Manchin personally implored Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to be more responsible, but his pleas were ignored.

Really, Joe? McConnell has proven he puts party over country with every breath.

“Aw-Shucks” Joe is making it clear that he doesn’t want Democrats to advance key items on President Joe Biden’s agenda without ten Republican votes. He’s made it clear; he loves the undemocratic filibuster.

After falsely predicting that Republicans would help pass the bill to create a Jan. 6 commission, Manchin expects the infrastructure talks to result in success. “I don’t think this is going to fall apart,” the senator said. Didn’t he say that for Jan.6 insurrection bill?

Asked if he’s ready to pass a budget reconciliation bill bypassing the filibuster rule, that would allow Democrats to advance an infrastructure measure without Republican support, Manchin said, “No, I don’t think you should. Right now, basically we need to be bipartisan.”

Manchin is  forcing the majority party to voluntarily give veto power to the minority party. If the roles were reversed, do you think for a NY minute that McConnell would give the Dems the same courtesy? If you believe that, I have some swampland in Arizona.

As Michelle Goldberg of the NY Times said, “Manchin is part of a tiny contingent committed to the idea of bipartisanship as a supreme good, which in practice means bowing to the wishes of a party that doesn’t believe Joe Biden is a legitimate president and wants above all to see him fail.” And because of this, America fails!

Joe Manchin wants Democrats and Republicans to put aside their differences, ignore their ideologies and goals, join hands, and forge agreements. A Kumbaya moment?! Ain’t gonna happen.

Manchin’s fixation on bipartisanship means that governing is no longer his priority. Again, a foolhardy position where country is less important than some elusive goal.

This is by no means limited to infrastructure. Manchin said that any voting rights legislation must be bipartisan to gain his vote, saying that a single-party push for Democratic-sponsored legislation is a “disaster waiting to happen.”

But Joe, here’s another way to look at it: Republicans curtailing voting rights as part of a single-party attack on the foundations of our democracy is the true “disaster waiting to happen.”

The McConnell/Manchin “Sh*#t show” is coming from representatives whose  states rank as follows:

  • West Virginia – #50 in infrastructure, #48 in economy, #47 in health care, and #45 in education
  • Kentucky – #48 in fiscal stability, #44 in health care, #40 in economy, #36 in education, and #18 in infrastructure (but certainly not in my county).

Joe and Mitch, both West Virginians and their cousins in Kentucky need infrastructure renovation, voting rights reform, and a Jan. 6 Commission –≠  perhaps even more than most states because of low education levels and poor rural communities.

“Aw Shucks” Joe  and “Obstructionist” Mitch are no more representing the interests of their states or working to save our democracy than the man in the moon. In fact, they are actively damaging our democracy.

America, we are in an unprotected “No Man’s Land,” and dangerously close to losing our American experiment.


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Marshall Ward

Marshall taught history and economics for twenty years in Charleston, SC, then moved to Murray, KY, where he taught AP history for seventeen years. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)