January 5, 2022

Manchin's no hero for conservatives, but then again he is

Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia has been one of the stalwarts holding up the Let's Go Brandon "Build Back Better" debacle of a massive spending bill for months.  Conservatives should be thankful that he's standing on principle and not caving to the AOCs, Pelosis and Schumers of the Democratic party. In fact there has been talk of co-opting him into the Republican party.  Hold up conservatives, not so fast. He's not a sudden new hero for the future, he's just a hero for right now.  This is just a marriage of convenience.

The reason that Joe Manchin has surged on popularity with Republicans is not a result of some awakening or slow drift to the right on his part, but rather his view of his own West Virginia electoral base. True, Manchin has publicly claimed he is no liberal.  But that extends only as far as the fact that the liberal wing of the Democrat party has openly drifted so far left as to be an absurdity. Manchin is blocking the Let's Go Brandon agenda only because it's anti-coal. Manchin is pro-coal because his voters are pro-coal, in turn because his state is a coal state. That's just self-preservation. So standing on those principles is not a sudden conversion to common sense.  In fact, Manchin already has common sense; with regard to his own political positions and their impact on his electability

Take a look at his recent surge in voter approval within his state, it comes from carving out a position aligned with his state voters and not his Democratic colleagues. Manchin is to be fair, an old school Democrat and much further to the right than his party; he's generally pro-business, pro right to life and pro 2nd amendment. But if he were to switch parties he would not be a stalwart conservative Republican. As a reference point, the ACLU rated him 100% and the Republican Liberty Caucus rated him at 43%.  These are not ringing endorsements to conservative ears.

To be sure, we have common cause with Manchin at the moment, and we should support his efforts to withstand the onslaught from his fellow party members. But while to work with him where possible is a good idea, to embrace him would be a mistake. Remember, he voted with the Democrats to impeach president Trump on a bogus made-up scandal.  He has repeatedly voted against a repeal of Obamacare. Meanwhile West Virginia has shifted presidentially so far right since the 1990's as to be a potential senatorial pick up for Republicans in 2024. Minus Manchin, the state would almost certainly have elected a Republican to the senate seat long ago. 

In 2024, Manchin will be 77 by the time the election rolls around. It's not clear if he would run again but if he did he would likely win again.  At that point, it may be worthwhile making a deal, with Manchin - if it makes political sense to do so. If he doesn't run again, the senate seat by all rights will flip to Republican anyway.  A GOP candidate from the state is far more likely to support a patriot type agenda than Manchin would ever do. Ronald Reagan said that the person who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and ally, not a 20% traitor. That is not the situation with Manchin.  He's not a bad guy per se, but having perhaps 50% common cause with him does not make him an outright conservative ally.

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