“I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”– Charles Dickens
Two things hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. Both happened on Facebook as it turns out. On the one hand, I saw a friend from high school post a picture of herself with gray hair. You start asking yourself when that certain someone got old and then stop and realize it was you. Another posted his lament about Joe Mancin and how he killed the Build Back Better bill that seemed destined to narrowly pass. The two quickly combined into a thought about the season and what I really want.
What becomes harder and harder these days is coming up with a list of things I want for Christmas. Most items are things no one would buy for me because either they are unhealthy or they don’t know exactly what I want. In other years, I just don’t want anything that badly. However, since this is the last piece I will write before Christmas I thought I would use that tact to address this particular situation.
My first instinct is to assert that Joe Mancin and Kyrsten Synema are not really Democrats. However, that ends up offending the political science part of my brain. The whole reason we are in the mess we are in is that far too many people treat political parties like a team or tribe and not as a generic way of telling people what you stand for. They are both Democrats in the sense that they support policies Democrats support more often than not.
So, as angry as one can get at this current setback, it is hard to know exactly what Mancin is thinking. He represents West Virginia. Maybe this deal isn’t good for West Virginia in his eyes. Maybe he bent to the whims of his donors. Maybe he just wants to wield more power on his way out the door. Maybe he is really a Republican in sheep’s clothing. Maybe a lot of things are true.
What I quickly realized is that Democrats have been after the wrong thing all along. Getting their legislation passed is an uphill battle. Getting their judges is an uphill battle. Getting their ambassadors and political appointments is an uphill battle. Holding the insurrectionists accountable has been an uphill battle. Look around the country and you clearly see one party cares about democracy (small d) while the other cares about power. One party cares about preserving individual rights while the other cares about power.
Yet, we see Congress fighting over infrastructure, economic relief, and saving the elderly and working families money. These things are all important. Yet, it cannot be more important than giving those people a fighting chance to get people that will represent their interest. It doesn’t matter which issue it is. Public opinion polls always show that an overwhelming number of people support what the Democrats want to do. Yet, they have a 50/50 split in the Senate.
While Democrats have focused on those important but transient issues, Republicans have managed to tip the scales. They’ve managed to rig statewide elections. They are working to stack the courts. That work is starting to produce fruit now and that fruit is something the majority does not want. What the majority wants doesn’t matter. Yet, here we are still pushing that proverbial rock up the mountain.
I want Joe Mancin to feel comfortable representing his state. That’s what James Madison envisioned when he devised our system of government. Mancin may or may not be doing that. I don’t live in West Virginia. What I know is that the Senate is somehow 50/50 in a nation that has far more progressives in it than conservatives. If our government were to be made up of a representation of where the people actually were politically then Joe Mancin wouldn’t matter.
What I want for Christmas is for the Democrats in Congress to use whatever political capital they have left to ensure that the overall representation reflects the values of the people. That means that everyone that has the right to vote should be able to vote. That means more access. That means district lines that make sense and that are fair. That means no intimidation. That means no thumbs on the scale. That means no changing the outcome when the outcome is “wrong.” That means one person, one vote. That means that land doesn’t determine political power. People do. Once you get that then all the build back better and progressive planks come. They come whether Joe Mancin supports them or not.