Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., sounds convincing when he argues that protecting the sacred right to vote “should never be done in a partisan manner.” He persuasively asserts that both Democrats and Republicans need to come together “to find a pathway forward.”
What Manchin needs to realize is that that Democrats, Republicans and independents have already come together. Manchin already achieved his bipartisan aspiration that he says is lacking, and cites it as his reason to vote against the For the People Act.
As a member of West Virginia University’s Student Government Association, I worked with students across the political spectrum to pass a resolution in support of the For the People Act during spring semester. Beyond just young people, poll after poll demonstrates this broad, cross-partisan support for the For The People Act from West Virginians. Supermajorities of both Trump voters and Biden voters in West Virginia support the voting, ethics and dark-money reforms in the bill. Isn’t that what bipartisan means?
When you can’t argue the substance, you argue that process. That’s what Manchin is doing, because it’s hard to argue with the substance of ending political corruption and of the much-needed reforms in the For The People Act.
Here’s some of what the act would do:
- Eliminate secret money to buy federal elections (All donors spending above $10,000 must be disclosed.)
- Make it illegal for members of Congress to serve on corporate boards.
- Stop gerrymandering everywhere for U.S. House races.
- Reduce the influence of lobbyists.
- Encourage candidates to raise small donations, and refuse donations above $1,000;
- Stop making it harder to vote. (We know how to conduct convenient elections without fraud.)
So, what’s going on here? Are the people of West Virginia seeing a case of a supermajority of voters of all types wanting political reform, but the professional politicians won’t give the voters what they want? Can you imagine that ever happening in the United States, where professional politicians are known for putting country over party?
It’s not too late for Manchin to represent his constituents by saying: “The vast majority of all West Virginia voters support the reforms in the For the People Act. My definition of bipartisan support comes from what my voters want. I won’t be one of those professional politicians who ignores my voters because big money interests want to maintain a rigged system. That rigged system works too well for big money with lobbyists, and not well enough for voters without big money and lobbyists. Because Republican, Democrat and independent voters in West Virginia want these reforms, I do, too.”
On behalf of West Virginians across the state, I’m asking Manchin to support the For the People Act, so that we can truly make our democracy work for the people. And on behalf of young West Virginians across the state, I’m begging Manchin to support the For the People Act, so that our generation is actually represented by our government, so that we stop fleeing our state to find more opportunities elsewhere, and so that we have a future to look forward to.
Manchin should want to be remembered in American history for making our democracy less corrupt and more representative. Two years ago he was a co-sponsor of the “For the People Act.” It is time to embrace the bipartisanship he calls for and realize that it already exists in this bill.