On 6/6/2021 — six months to the day after a group of Trump supporters committed an insurrection at the capitol — Senator Joe Manchin went to Charleston Gazette-Mail, a local West Virginia newspaper, to explain why he’s voting against the For The People Act. Throughout the article, Manchin uses the word “partisan” eighteen separate times, constantly insulting the For The People Act as a “partisan” one, and therefore the legislation is bad. Of course, the legislation is only “partisan” because Republicans (even the “reasonable” ones we kept hearing about while Trump was President) won’t vote for it. If Manchin truly cared about bipartisanship, he would be asking the same Republican Party who made the For The People Act necessary to stop passing anti-Democratic legislation, but Manchin does not do this because doing so would involve admitting the blame lies somewhere outside his own party.
Throughout the article, Manchin never once actually gives a provision of the For The People Act he disagrees with. If Manchin simply did not agree with the legislation, that would be fine. He’s a member of Congress and if he feels this legislation would be bad for the American people, then it is his job to vote against it. However, Manchin clearly wants to have it both ways — he wants to say that he agrees with the For The People Act, but he doesn’t want to vote for it because doing so would be “partisan.”
No longer can a legislation just be “good” or “bad,” it must also be “bipartisan,” and “unifying.” Republicans are only getting more partisan, kicking Liz Cheney out of her high-ranking position in the House because she voted to impeach Donald Trump, while Democrats are getting more bipartisan, which means trying to work with the people who remove their own leaders because they break with Donald Trump. It should be obvious why one side is currently running circles around the other, despite Democrats controlling both houses of Congress and the White House. In the real world, “bipartisanship” is a means and not an end, and Congress should be aiming to pass legislation that improves the lives of the American people instead of worrying about if their enemies will vote along with them.
It’s times like this I miss President Lyndon Johnson, we would have gotten the For The People Act passed. Standing at 6 ft 3.5 in, or 192 cm, making him the second tallest President in American history, just behind President Lincoln, Johnson needed to do no more than stand over his political enemies in order to intimidate them into voting the right way. Here’s one historian describing how Johnson scared other Senators as Senate Majority Leader, giving them what became known simply as “the treatment”:
The Treatment could last ten minutes or four hours. It came, enveloping its target, at the Johnson Ranch swimming pool, in one of Johnson’s offices, in the Senate cloakroom, on the floor of the Senate itself — wherever Johnson might find a fellow Senator within his reach. Its tone could be supplication, accusation, cajolery, exuberance, scorn, tears, complaint, and the hint of threat. It was all of these together. It ran the gamut of human emotions. Its velocity was breathtaking and it was all in one direction. Interjections from the target were rare. Johnson anticipated them before they could be spoken. He moved in close, his face a scant millimeter from his target, his eyes widening and narrowing, his eyebrows rising and falling. From his pockets poured clippings, memos, statistics. Mimicry, humor, and the genius of analogy made The Treatment an almost hypnotic experience and rendered the target stunned and helpless.
Lyndon Johnson is the same man who threw his Federal Reserves chairman, William McChesney Martin, against a wall to stop him from raising interest rates. Johnson was the man who would sometimes hold meetings in the restroom so he could show his political opponents his penis — and man, did it work. Here’s political blogger Brian VanHooker talking about Johnson and his famous penis:
Long before Louis C.K. was doing it, LBJ would whip out his dick on unsuspecting people all the time. One account tells of a reporter asking why America had troops in Vietnam, to which Johnson cleverly replied, “That’s why!” as he pulled “Jumbo” out of his pants. (Jumbo was Johnson’s name for his Johnson, and by all accounts, it lived up to its moniker.)
Johnson liked to skinny dip, which also was a pastime of John Quincy Adams and Theodore Roosevelt. Unique to Johnson, though, was his habit of making people watch him take a shit as they took dictation. He also held a nude news conference, customized his shower to spray him at dick-level and there even exists an incredible tape of his giving directions to his tailor to leave plenty of room in the crotch area.
He was a dirty player, make no mistake, but if it weren’t for his tactics it’s very likely the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act would have never been passed in the first place.
Of course, Joe Biden is likely not tall enough to tower over Manchin, nor is he mean enough to use any of the tactics Johnson once used. However, that does not mean that Biden couldn’t convince Manchin if he truly wanted to. As Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson pointed out on 6/3/2021, there is another way to gain his support:
Biden just needs to bring Joe Manchin to the White House and say “Tell me what we can do for West Virginia. You want a UBI for everyone in the state? A NASA research facility? Fine.” Offer him the chance to be the most beloved senator in WV history. He can be made to fold.
Mind you, Biden will never do that. Biden will never do that because, at the end of the day, Manchin’s style of politics is not unlike what Biden has been doing for years. Biden already had a reputation of being a moderate Democrat while in the Senate, and during his 2020 Presidential Campaign Biden would use words like “unity” and “bipartisanship” no different than how Manchin is using them now.
During his inaugural address, Joe Biden used the word “unity” nine separate times. This set the tone for the rest of his administration: Joe Biden would never do anything especially big, no matter how popular, if anyone even slightly disagreed with it.
While Donald Trump was trying to deny Joe Biden his rightful victory, Biden used the word “unity” time and time again, promising it, hugging it like a scared child hugs a stuffed animal. Of course, the Republican Party does not want unity — as we saw when many of its most hardcore supporters stormed the capitol on 1/6/2021 specifically to stop the Electoral Votes for Biden from being certified. After that, many Republican politicians responded by continuing to object to the certification of the Electoral Votes, doing everything possible to stop Joe Biden from being President. Just before it happened, Senator Ted Cruz was on the floor of the Senate calling concerns that the election was stole “legitimate” and calling for a full investigation.
Of course, this caused Manchin to only increase his desire for bipartisanship. Speaking to CNN in April 2021, Manchin said:
January 6 changed me. I never thought in my life, I never read in history books to where our form of government had been attacked, at our seat of government, which is Washington, DC, at our Capitol, by our own people. So, something told me, “Wait a minute. Pause. Hit the pause button.” Something’s wrong. You can’t have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other.
It should be noted that this is an obvious lie, Joe Manchin has had a reputation for being a moderate Democrat with a love of bipartisanship dating back to the Obama Administration. This bizarre idea that what happened on 1/6/2021 changed him falls apart when you realize he’s doing the exact same thing he always has been.
But still, that’s what we were told. We were told that these people weren’t bad people, they just felt unrepresented by their government. Others are trying to paint what they did as a political disagreement, or say that arresting them would be the same as arresting all Trump supporters. Of course, nobody wants to arrest all Trump supporters — we just want to arrest the 400 or so who entered the capitol illegally, that’s it.
As I write this, any attempt Biden and Democrats have made to set up a commission to investigate the insurrection has failed to gain traction. Even when Democrats offered a deal that would give Republicans equal numbers and allow them to veto any subpoenas, that was still considered “partisan” and refused.
Of course, the Republican Party has literally no interest in “bipartisanship.” We never heard talk of “unity” from Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, or Kevin McCarthy. When Barrett was being confirmed just last year, Republicans directly said that since they had a majority in the Senate, they did not have to care about what the other side thought. They pushed through unpopular tax cuts, confirmed unpopular Supreme Court Justices, and used their power in a way that made the lives of Democrats a living Hell for four straight years. Of course, this is why Republicans make massive impacts on the lives of the people while Democrats end up doing little more than making small changes.
Biden could take Joe Manchin to the side and say “your style of politics isn’t working.” He could do everything from intimidate him to offer him anything under the sun, that’s what Lyndon Johnson did when he wanted something done, that’s what Franklin Roosevelt (who Biden has a picture of in the oval office) did when he wanted something done. However, Joe Biden will not do such a thing — because he knows that Manchin is just doing his style of politics, and he’s scared to call him out.