Some of the harshest warnings for the Democratic Party are coming from the . . . Democratic Party. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday warned the Democratic Party to not engage in payback when it comes to President-elect Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court or they will continue to lose a significant portion of the electorate in rural states like his who helped hand Trump the presidency.
“We have to be careful how we go down this road,” Manchin said during a panel discussion at a centrist “No Labels” conference in Washington. Manchin was referring to Senate Democrats’ willingness to use the filibuster to try to block Trump’s high court pick and cautioned against doing so.
“If my Democrat friends just hunker down and say, ‘No, no, and hell no,’ I can understand that [Republicans] are going to say, ‘Wait a minute, we have a pretty good person here. We need to give him a fair shot,'” he said. “Those types of things, I hope we’re going to avoid before we get into this dysfunction that we’ve been in.”
Manchin, a conservative-leaning Democrat who has always played an outsized role in the Republican Senate majority, is under consideration for Energy Secretary in the Trump Administration.
After the election, Senate Democrats realized they had lost voters in states like West Virginia and the so-called Rust Belt and appointed Manchin to a leadership role in response.
On the leadership team, Manchin has said he’s going to work to try to bring his party “back to the middle.” He said, “I look at all of this . . . this is big change. We have big change in our country right now, and with every big change comes opportunity.”
On the flip side, he also warned Republicans not to repeal Obamacare while waiting two or three years to pass a replacement.
“It would be much easier” if Republicans didn’t wait, he argued.
But Manchin saved his strongest words for his Democratic colleagues, warning them that they may be on a path toward permanent minority status if they don’t learn the lessons of the 2016 elections. The Democratic Party can stay the course – with renewed commitment to the same old leadership team, with Rep. Pelosi at the helm. But to learn nothing from its continued slide is to risk irrelevancy on a national level.
The Democrats can ignore the warnings from one of their best leaders – Sen. Joe Manchin. But they will do so to their own peril.
About the Author
Susan Crabtree is a Senior Congressional Reporter who writes for the Washington Examiner. She covers the United States Senate with daily columns and commentary.