“Nostalgia” is sometimes defined as fond memories of a past that never existed. Joe Manchin, however, is nostalgic for a past that did actually once exist. There was, in fact, a time when Democrats and Republicans cooperated and compromised to pass legislation that benefited the American people.
During the Reagan administration, Democrats made significant modifications to their favored policies to meet Republicans more than halfway. Even after Reagan, Clinton continued to advocate this moderate “third way” to pass legislation acceptable to the center right. As recently as 2016, Obama made significant modifications to his health care initiative to make it more appealing to his Republican colleagues.
And how did those “colleagues” respond? They refused, every single one of them, to vote for the bill Obama had worked so hard to make palatable to them. He shouldn’t have been surprised. Didn’t then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell make it clear from the moment he was elected that his party would do everything they could to ensure that he would be a one term president?
Well, they failed in that, but it didn’t convince them that perhaps a bit of cooperation and compromise would be good for the country. No, they have persisted, to a person, ever since, to refuse to allow Democrat legislation to even come to a vote, and have taken every opportunity available to them so foist their policies on the Republic without any consideration of Democrats’ attempts to contribute their proposed input.
I empathize with Manchin’s nostalgia for those long, lost days when both parties understood the benefits and necessity of working across the aisle — when they could even put their differences aside for a few hours to go out for coffee or a drink together. Well, those days are gone, and they aren’t coming back anytime in the foreseeable future. So to base his stand on a hopeless, futile wish that he might somehow, singlehandedly, bring them back by refusing to consider changing or eliminating the filibuster is, well, to put it simply, naive. The Democrats have a slim chance to pass legislation that would put the country back on track to maintain its position as a world power, to reduce poverty, grow a robust middle class, combat climate change, repair our broken infrastructure, and bring our health care, child care, and elder care up to 21 first century standards — all proposals that, I might add, are whole-heartedly supported by most Republicans, even while their representatives in Congress continue to thwart them. Will he really let all this slip through our fingers for nostalgia’s sake?