David A. Love
OPINION: Black voters who elected Democrats to do something deserve better, and White moderate Dems seeking bipartisanship with white nationalists are a threat to our health and safety.
U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) stand in the way of justice, freedom and democracy, and pose a threat to the lives of Black people.
Manchin and Sinema have made it clear they refuse to join fellow Democrats in removing the filibuster, a Senate rule that is found nowhere in the Constitution and requires 60 votes to pass a bill. White supremacist lawmakers once used the tool to uphold slavery, kill anti-lynching legislation and block civil rights. The filibuster cements white minority rule for Republicans and is a procedural roadblock to passing crucial legislation to protect Black Americans.
Manchin and Sinema view themselves as moderates who uphold bipartisan civility. In reality, they seek compromise with Republicans who have shown themselves consistently as bad faith actors 100% committed to blocking progress and stopping the Biden agenda.
In an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin announced he will not support the For the People Act, a comprehensive election reform package that would protect voting rights, regulate federal elections, reduce the influence of money in politics and stop voter suppression efforts across the country. The legislation is widely popular among voters, even among Republican voters.
Manchin said he will vote against the bill because no Republican Senators support it, and the right to vote has become politicized. “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster,” he wrote.
“If voting rights legislation had to be ‘bipartisan’ 15th Amendment would’ve never passed,” tweeted Ari Berman of Mother Jones. “It’s astonishing that Joe Manchin calls right to vote ‘fundamental’ but won’t back For the People Act that would stop greatest roll back of voting access since end of Reconstruction.”
This comes as Sen. Sinema doubled down on the filibuster, fraudulently claiming it was designed to “create comity and to encourage senators to find bipartisanship and work together.”
“The reality is that when you have a system that is not working effectively — and I would think that most would agree that the Senate is not a particularly well-oiled machine, right? The way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior,” Sinema said alongside Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn in Arizona. The Arizona lawmaker angered Democrats when she curtsied and made an exaggerated thumbs down gesture on the Senate floor to oppose a $15 federal minimum wage.
Corporate lobbyists are compensating the two moderate Democrats for voting against Democratic policies that seek economic and racial justice. Weeks after defeating the minimum wage increase, Sinema and Manchin headlined the annual conference of the National Restaurant Association, which had actively lobbied against the bill.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobbying group in America, opposes the For the People Act and is “aggressively lobbying” against it, according to Popular Information. The Chamber is rewarding Manchin and Sinema with campaign cash for opposing Biden’s agenda, preserving the filibuster and working with Republicans, according to Reuters. Manchin’s statements against voting rights and election reform parrot the Chamber’s talking points against the legislation. And other anti-voting rights groups funded by the Koch Brothers have pressured Manchin as well.
“Let’s be clear: Manchin’s stance is not just against Black people but poor & low-wealth people of every race, creed, color, etc. Connect the dots. Manchin hides behind ‘bipartisanship,’ but he is really a puppet of the US Chamber of Commerce and the corporate elite,” tweeted Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. Barber announced a June 14 Moral March on Manchin in West Virginia, followed by a June 23 action on Manchin and McConnell in Washington, D.C.