June 9, 2021

MARC THIESSEN: Democrats should be careful. They need Manchin more than he needs them. “They need to decide: Do they want Manchin to be their party’s John McCain (R-Ariz.) — a maverick who went his own way on issues but stayed within the party fold? Or do they want Manchin to become their party’s Jim Jeffords, the Vermont Republican who became the first senator in history to hand Senate control to the opposition by switching parties? In May 2001, Jeffords announced he was leaving the GOP to caucus with the Democrats. Then, as now, the Senate was split 50-50 — which meant his defection put Democrats into the majority.”


In resisting their radical agenda, Manchin is simply representing his constituents. West Virginia is one of the reddest states in the country — so red that its Democratic governor, Jim Justice, switched parties in 2017. If Manchin chose to do the same, he would be welcomed by the Senate Republicans with open arms. Like Jeffords before him, he would be given a plum committee chairmanship. And he would still be the decisive swing vote in the Senate — except with Republicans in control, he would have even more influence than he does today in setting the agenda.

Instead of complaining that Manchin threatens their far-left policies, Democrats ought to recognize that voters did not give them a mandate to pursue so radical an agenda. They elected an evenly split Senate and gave Democrats a narrow majority in the House — one they are in danger of losing in 2022. The normal reaction to this outcome would be to follow Manchin’s advice, temper their demands and reach across the aisle. Instead, Democrats are acting like they won in a landslide, trying to ram through extreme partisan bills. If they had an actual mandate to do this, one conservative West Virginia Democrat would not be able to stand in their way. Rather than railing about Manchin, they should moderate their agenda and seek bipartisan compromises with Republicans that Manchin can support.

The fact is, Democrats need Manchin more than he needs them — not just to preserve their Senate majority, but also to stop their party from falling over a left-wing cliff.

Falling over? Eagerly running over.

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