Do you live in West Virginia or Arizona? Then it’s extra-important that your Democratic Senators–in particular, Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona–hear from you.
With the Senate tied at 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats plus two independents who caucus with them (Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine), the most conservative Democrats have gained a great deal of power.
Those Democrats are Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Their powers have already manifested. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (boy it feels good to type that) backed down on an absurd demand that Democrats commit to preserving the filibuster, a Senate device that essentially guarantees no legislation advances without 60 votes, after talking to Manchin and Sinema and satisfying himself that they would protect it if Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wouldn’t.
In other words, Manchin or Sinema or both may hamper or block legislation that could be critical to the success of the Biden administration. They haven’t made obstacles of themselves yet, but it’s early days.
Everyone should call their members of Congress to let them know how they feel about issues of concern, big or small, year-round. Those of us who live in West Virginia or Arizona should make an extra effort to voice their concerns to their Senators.
If you have friends or family members in West Virginia or Arizona, please be ready to ask them to call their Senators and speak up about specific issues.
Manchin has made public statements that show an openness to changing his mind and to listening to the entreaties of fellow Democrats. Though he just signaled an unwilling to dump the filibuster, in a June 2020 New York Magazine article on the topic includes this paragraph:
“But the clearest indication of a sea change in the Democratic Party’s attitude toward procedural radicalism may come courtesy of Joe ‘just barely a Democrat’ Manchin. Asked about progressive senator Jeff Merkley’s push for eliminating the filibuster, Manchin told The Hill Thursday, “I just heard they started talking and I’m interested in listening to anything because the place isn’t working.'”
Sinema receives less attention for her conservatism, perhaps because she has yet to complete a full Senate term. She doesn’t seem to have made any statements like those of Manchin, but we haven’t seen anything that indicates a stubborn streak or general bullheadedness. An October 2020 New York Magazine piece captures her complexities and her near unicorn-like status as a Senator:
Anyway, just saying–it’s always important to let your members of Congress know your thoughts (politely! Always politely, please!), but it is vital that you stick with the habit if you’re represented by Manchin or Sinema. Please keep doing it.
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