Typically, when the machinations and pirouetting of West Virginian Democratic Senator Joe Manchin are discussed, it’s framed as Manchin is a Democrat who is trying to keep his seat in a very conservative state. What this ignores is how much of a New Democrat/neoliberal sensu this ideologue Manchin is.
Consider his state’s governor, Jim Justice (by the way, “Governor Justice” is a superhero name, if there were ever such a thing). He was a Democrat who switched parties. Justice is the political opportunist: he recently called for approving the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. That is, he tacks rightward on social issues (e.g., guns), but he is more than willing to take buckets of money (though West Virginia does need said buckets). That’s the survival play: social conservative in the streets, Keynesian in between the sheets.
Manchin is the ideologue here. He hates deficit spending and likes market-based solutions–and absolutely doesn’t want to grow government any larger. There’s a reason he’s sympatico with the radical centrist think tank Third Way (to his credit, he is a Democratic loyalist, as he left another bipartisan radical centrist group that supported Republican senators against Democrats).
Anyway, the point is we’re going to learn a lot over the next few years about just how much of an ideologue Manchin is.
It’s especially weird as few dispute that Sanders, arguably the left-most senator, is an ideologue, but somehow the right-most senator (though Sen. Sinema might give him a run for his money!*) is a pragmatic survivor.**
We need to reach out to West Virginian Democrats and start having them put pressure on Manchin, because he’s not a moderate or liberal Democrat yearning to be free.
*I keep telling you we’re going to hear a lot about Sen. Sinema–and you’re not going to like any of it.
**As if the open socialist somehow isn’t a pragmatic survivor.