As Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher recently told Pod Save America, “I don’t know if we can change the filibuster or not, but I damn sure believe we better go down in fucking flames fighting to get voting rights passed if we want to have a chance of mobilizing our base going into this midterm.”
At the time of this writing on Sunday, Dec. 19, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia had just told Fox News that he’s a “no” on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill after months and months and months of negotiations in which Manchin signaled an openness to the framework and most of the priorities, if not the price tag. Democrats whittled down both the priorities and the spending to better accommodate Manchin, but he appears to have stabbed the White House and his Democratic colleagues in the back, according to the White House.
If Manchin’s comments on Fox connote an end to his negotiations on the legislation, wrote White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, “they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”
That’s the White House effectively calling Manchin a liar who lied directly to the face of the president, according to Psaki’s lengthy statement.
It’s hard to know exactly where things will go from here in the coming weeks and months, but regardless of what becomes of Build Back Better, the far more pressing matter for Biden and congressional Democrats is the preservation of the republic. No legacy bill, no matter how well-intentioned, will matter one lick if the republic is lost to Trump and the GOP’s effort to thwart democracy. Bottom line: Biden’s entire presidency will come down to whether he managed to save the country from the existential threat he pinpointed at the outset of his 2020 candidacy.
That’s where Democrats could use some of the white-hot fire we are seeing from Cheney. In fact, in order to stay centered and focused on the critical task at hand throughout 2022, every Democratic lawmaker should have a giant sign in their office that reads, “What have you done to save democracy today?”
The one favor Manchin has now done for Democrats (assuming he doesn’t change his mind) is kill the necessity of having to treat him with graciousness. As Democrats go about informing the country of Republican efforts in the states to rig every election for the foreseeable future, they don’t have to dance around Manchin’s contribution to the GOP’s corrupt project if he refuses to find a workaround for the filibuster. And Democrats better start consistently and forcefully explaining the GOP’s sweeping efforts to subvert the will of the people, because Republicans have been countermessaging for months that Democrats are the real threat to democracy. Check out Trump’s dig on “communist countries and dictatorships” below. (Also, Trump is very afraid of Cheney.)