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Manchin Standing With the People

Despite a little public ribbing from President Joe Biden, and knowing full well how most all of his fellow Democratic senators feel about the issue, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is taking a stand on HR 1, the biggest federal effort to overhaul U.S. election law in many years.

Oddly named the For the People Act — leading one to wonder, aren’t all pieces of legislation meant to be “for the people?” — the bill’s supporters say it expands voting rights, changes campaign finance law and limits gerrymandering, among other revisions.

Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., see it for what it is — another partisan attempt to wrest power from the states and instead centralize all facets of life in Washington. They have made it clear they will not vote to support the bill, and Biden knows without them, it will likely fail. So he publicly criticized the “two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends,” though he did not name them.

No matter, Manchin understands what is important here.

“I think it’s the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our county and I’m not supporting that because I think it would divide us further,” he said.

Good.

Of course, he did not let Republican lawmakers off the hook, saying there is still a need for a truly bipartisan deal.

“And if they think they’re going to win by subverting and oppressing people from voting, they’re going to lose,” he added.

Going against party lines on matters such as election law or the filibuster does not make Manchin an elephant in donkey’s clothing. It makes him a leader who understands it is more important to do the right thing for his constituents than to put on a partisan show. A little jab here and there from the likes of Biden won’t stop him — and Biden knows that, though he is more beholden to the partisan show than Manchin.

Perhaps if Manchin and Sinema can hold strong, lawmakers will, indeed, be forced to instead take another look at revamping the Voting Rights Act in a manner that really does work … for the people.

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