Senator Joe Manchin is no political coward. He invited the wrath of fanatical Democrats by refusing to rip apart the Senate to advance their election takeover bill.
The senator nonetheless stood up to angered progressives and radical Democrats with a speech worthy of the moment. The West Virginia statesman shamed them for trying to ‘tear the nation apart’ with a short-sighted and destructive attempt to pass their federal election bill at all costs. It was truly epic.
“I cannot support such a perilous course for this nation when elected leaders are sent to Washington to unite our country, not to divide our country,” he argued.
“Let this change happen in this way, and the Senate will be a body without rules,” Manchin warned.
“We’ve changed the rules,” in the past, Manchin said. “But we changed them with the rules. We didn’t break the rules to change the rules. But all of a sudden now we just can’t do it anymore. Just got to blow it up.”
“The rule book means that the rules changes are done on the basis of broad, bipartisan consensus, not imposed on the minority by raw majority power,” he went on. “No matter who is in power.”
“The majority does not have that power to do that in this Senate.”
“Now, my colleagues propose to sidestep this process,” he went on. “They would use the nuclear option to override a rule we have used ourselves. But now seem to find it unacceptable.”
“Unacceptable now. We are going to break the rules to change the rules,” he added. “And make up new rules as we go along and invite ourselves to the future majorities to disregard the rule book at will.”
Manchin then praised the filibuster as the Senate’s greatest unspoken rule because it is one about “self-restraint, something we have very little of anymore.”
Manchin said he “cannot be a party to that” and argued the Senate work hard to come to a compromise.
“We don’t have to change the rules to make our case to the American people about voting rights,” Manchin also said. “We could have kept voting rights legislation as a pending business for the Senate today. Next week, a month from now, this is important. Let’s work it out. Let’s see. Stay here and go at it.”
“Allowing one party to exert complete control in the Senate with only a simple majority will only pour fuel on the fire of political whiplash and dysfunction that is tearing this nation apart,” Manchin said. “Contrary to what some have said, protecting the role of the minority – Democrat or Republican – has protected us from the volatile political swings that we have endured over the last 233 years.”
“Eliminating the filibuster would be the easy way out,” he added.
“We’re called the United States, not the divided states,” Manchin said. “And putting politics and party aside is what we’re supposed to do. It’s time that we do the hard work to forge difficult compromises that can stand the test of time.”
The Senate is split 50-50 with former senator and current vice president Kamala Harris acting as President of the Senate with the deciding vote in the event of ties. Under President Donald Trump, the Democratic Party used the filibuster over 500 times, predominately to obstruct presidential nominees.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.