AMAC Exclusive – by Cal Palmer
As Democrats in Congress negotiate with themselves over just how many trillions they should spend on social engineering, one so-called “centrist” Democrat in the Senate is said to be holding all the cards – West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.
At least that’s what he wants you to think.
Joe Manchin calls himself a “West Virginia Democrat” as a way of emphasizing his supposed moderation. But a closer look reveals that the ambiguity of that self-imposed title masks a much more radical reality.
The truth is that Joe Manchin is a certain kind of moderate—just not the West Virginia kind. He’s a Manhattan moderate. Manchin admits openly that “I’ve always said I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate,” with the implication being that “compassionate” is a stand-in for “liberal.” While that certainly is one kind of moderation – although Manchin’s voting record leaves reason to believe he does not fully embrace even that – it’s an attitude more suited for the boardrooms of Wall Street than the living rooms of Wheeling, West Virginia. A true “West Virginia Democrat” would likely be the exact opposite of that – willing to spend more on government programs but defend conservative social values. While West Virginians may be able to live with increases in funding to Medicare, what they decidedly don’t want is their Senator tacitly endorsing woke identity politics.
Case in point, “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” is exactly how Michael Bloomberg and his team have described his elite brand of “moderation.” Anyone who paid any attention to Bloomberg’s campaign rhetoric during his 2020 presidential run knows that “moderate” is hardly an accurate description of his political beliefs.
But the mainstream media plays along with Manchin’s game happily. They mindlessly and constantly call him a “moderate,” understanding that doing so helps the Democratic Party save face with the American electorate, which is far less liberal than the median Congressional Democrat.
And, after all, a Manhattan moderate is their kind of moderate.
Members of the media live behind a cultural plexiglass so thick that a serious writer can literally say “everyone I know describes themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” They have no idea how small that ideological group of individuals really is. And, because Manchin is out of step in the same way the media is, they can’t see how disconnected from West Virginia voters he has become. Like Manchin, the devoted partisans who run the mainstream media have convinced themselves they’re “moderates” too, desperately seeking to align themselves with the deified political center.
So don’t hold your breath waiting for Manchin to correct the record. He loves when the media calls him a moderate. That’s the only way a Democrat can survive in West Virginia, a state which voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden by about 40 points.
On issue after issue, Joe Manchin purposefully plays it up and promises to be a “West Virginia Democrat.” But he votes overwhelmingly with Chuck Schumer and the Democrats from the East Coast.
Just go back and watch his “Dead Aim” television ad from his first US Senate run in 2010.
In that ad, Manchin plays a tough guy, touting his endorsement from the National Rifle Association and shooting a bullet through cap-and-trade energy legislation.
In the ad, Manchin promised to keep the federal government “off of our backs.”
But he signed a letter supporting an even bigger role for the federal government in business decisions by making “gender identity” a special, protected class for hiring and firing.
But Manchin’s record on abortion is mixed at best, as reflected by his fairly positive scores from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Maybe that’s why he continues to support funding for Planned Parenthood.
In line with West Virginia voters’ deep skepticism of illegal immigration, Manchin has talked tough on border security, offering his vote for a path to citizenship in exchange for funding President Trump’s wall.
But when he had a chance to actually be tough, Manchin supported so-called comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, along with Michael Bloomberg of course. That legislation would have granted amnesty and provided a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants without any permanent solutions to securing the border, let alone a wall.
So don’t be fooled by Joe Manchin’s “moderation” in the current spending debates. Joe Manchin may wear a barn jacket and shoot guns in his TV ads. But the pinstripe suits he wears in Washington better reflect the constituency he really represents.
Like the Manhattan moderate he is, he will probably negotiate the amount of spending down a bit to reassure financial markets and nervous investors—what’s a few trillion between friends?
But don’t count on the Senate’s “West Virginia Democrat” to ultimately vote against the left’s social engineering. In the end, a true West Virginia Democrat who actually represents what his constituents want would be so ideologically opposed to every mainstream view of today’s Democratic Party that he might be better off calling himself something else – a Republican.
Cal Palmer is the pen name of an analyst and fellow at a national think tank. He is an attorney and officer in the US Army Reserve.
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