Democrats have finally found a use for Joe Manchin: Chief scapegoat. NBC News reported that Dems on the campaign trail are using Manchin to display who they are not. Manchin has been all too ready and willing to vote against President Biden’s agenda. Manchin represents a red state, and it is important to him to appear that he has no side and can work with either. For him, that has been successful, and it is doubtful that anyone more liberal than Manchin can ever dream of taking his seat. Democrats running in different areas of the country, however, are using him to quash opponents they see as too conservative.
A prime example of this is Jessica Cisneros, who is running against Henry Cuellar in Texas. She compared Cuellar to Manchin for his refusal to vote in favor of codifying Roe, which is obviously a topic of hot discussion right now. Appearing on MSNBC last week, Cisneros said: “There’s so many key issues where he’s always siding with Republicans, and he could become the Joe Manchin of the House.” She went on to point out that Cuellar could well cast the deciding vote in the fight for reproduction rights, and that’s not a bad position to take. Many women are up in arms about the abortion issue, and if candidates appear to be siding with Republicans to overturn Roe, they likely won’t get very far with the female voters in their districts.
Candidates like Cisneros are also using Manchin’s consistent votes against President Biden’s agenda to their advantage. Of course, this could potentially backfire on candidates in red or purple states, who may see Manchin as a foil to policies seen as overly liberal. A fine line must be walked when using this type of tactic, and candidates must be sure they know the constituencies to which they preach. Kurt Schrader of Oregon is also being compared to Manchin, as he tends to vote against what President Biden sees as his priorities during his initial term. Schrader’s opponent, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, used the same language as Cisneros, calling Schrader “the Joe Manchin of the House.” She pointed to Schrader’s vote against the prescription drug policy and the Build Back Better Act.
John Fetterman, who is leading the primary in Pennsylvania, told constituents that he “won’t be a Joe Manchin Democrat.” In Fetterman’s case, he has used it to his advantage, and when NBC reported that Conor Lamb, his main opponent, tried to tie Fetterman to Bernie Sanders, Fetterman responded: “Say what you will about Bernie Sanders-at least he supported and voted for Joe Biden’s agenda.” Lamb and others like him call themselves “responsible Democrats,” but that all depends on your definition of “responsible.”
People want candidates who support their ideals for better government. In the case of stopping legislation that can help some Americans dig out of holes in which they find themselves, that legislation is exactly what they want. It remains to be seen how this works out for Dems, as it certainly didn’t work for Nina Turner, who was defeated by Shontel Brown not once but twice.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years