Sen. Joe Manchin, one of West Virginia’s dying breed — a Democrat — just told his local newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail, that he doesn’t give a rat’s tail if he wins re-election.
Nice. Desperation and anger, wrapped in a “take this and shove it” bow. Only in the public sector would this fly.
Manchin’s remarks, meant to convey an air of independence and strength in the face of growing party pressures — one that shows he’s so beholden to principle that he’s willing to risk even his political seat — actually come off as elitist and remarkably tone-deaf to constituent will.
“Don’t care if I get elected, don’t care if I get defeated, how about that,” he said. “If they think because I’m up for election, that I can be wrangled into voting for s—t that I don’t like and can’t explain, they’re all crazy.”
Methinks you do care, at least a bit, Joe. After all, nobody — least of all politicians, whose very existence relies on the Scale of Likability — likes to lose, particularly in public.
Nobody likes rejection.
So there must be some tiny part of Manchin that cares — else he’d quit his office now and give the seat to someone who does want to serve.
“I’m not scared of an election, let’s put it that way,” Manchin went on. “Elections do not bother me or scare me. I’m going to do the same thing I’ve always done, extremely independent.”
That may be. But political realities are bearing down on Manchin, just the same.
His state’s governor, Jim Justice, just switched political parties, going from Democrat to Republican — though it should be noted, that’s after going from Republican to Democrat some years ago. And he’s facing reelection in a state that went by a wide margin for Donald Trump.
The squeeze is on.
FiveThirtyEight.com reports that Manchin currently votes the Trump position a little more than 54 percent of the time — yet is expected, based on Trump’s 2016 winning margin with state voters, to vote the presidential preference nearly 95 percent of the time. That’s a wide margin that reflects voter disappointment.
As FiveThirtyEight.com explains: “Put simply, we would expect a member in a district where Trump did well to be more in sync with him than a member in a district where Trump did poorly.”
Now here comes Patrick Morrisey, the state’s Republican attorney general who’s running against Manchin, with an attack ad calling on the seated senator to step aside, saying he no longer represents the will of his constituents.
And Manchin’s response?
His salty-language snap — a concerted try to act as if he cares little for politics, as if he cares little for his job, as if he’s above the whole political game.
But with that, Manchin just makes Morrisey’s point: You can’t rightly represent constituents if you don’t even care about keeping your job. And as we all know, if Manchin were in the private sector, and snapped similarly to his boss, he would likely be told to pack up and leave.
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