|New York Magazine Photo|
With the deadline for this year's budget and spending plan kicked down the road as expected, it has become increasingly clear who in Congress is there to serve this country and who is there to play soccer in a never-ending and generally tied game of Republicans vs. Democrats. With members focused on following a political game plan rather than effective planning, this country has been subjected to a ping-pong approach to lawmaking instead of setting it on a path that fairly represents every demographic and business. With crossed fingers and muttered wishes, that trend may finally be cracking with a kind of action-based hope for fair and equitable government coming somewhere in the near future.
Over the last year, approximately one percent (1%) of Congressional members have shown they can be what an elected official should be--objective, knowledgeable and flexible representatives who are not hog tied by party loyalty. Nine months ago, it was the handful of Republicans that voted to impeach Trump. Now it is Joe Manchin (D-WV) who is standing against an over-the-top Democratic agenda that is largely a mystery to the America people. For that, he deserves a thank-you instead of the short-sighted criticism of the President and Congressional leaders.
This morning (10.8.2021), the news is about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's speech following a stop-gap vote to extend the debt limit until early December. Without too much first-hand knowledge of this speech, it isn't hard to imagine the content. Far too often, over the last few years, federal leaders have addressed each other and American citizens as if they were scolding children instead of being professionals. That tactic has not been successful in the past and does not seem likely to work in the future. Unless Schumer was playing to donors and extremists, what possible reason could he have had to take several minutes to berate half of the Senate chamber (and at least half of the country) with words that come off as shaming rather than reconciliation. Does he really believe the majority of US citizens want more debt? Perhaps it is Biden, Pelosi, McCarthy, Schumer and McConnell who need to be reminded of their role in government, not the American people.
From what little is known about Biden's Build Back Better agenda, the focus is on fixing fifty years of problems created by quick decisions and simple majority wins. Repeating a pattern that has left local government with the responsibility of maintaining all these projects, the BBB legislation is competitive by design rather than mutually beneficial across all states and demographics. It perpetuates economic behaviors which have not served taxpayers well but have created a legacy of government dependence and mandates that keep American families in a lifestyle of debt and consumerism. Like always, rural communities are low on the priority list because they can and do support themselves.
Joe Manchin understands this governmental trend and is right to drag his feet. What is seen as rogue or unprofessional behavior on Capital Hill might just be caution to insure fair treatment for his state as well as other rural communities.
For nearly forty years, Manchin has worked in all levels of government to protect and support a state that is characterized as bigoted and uneducated but often used by big business and big government for their own purposes. To discount his understanding of government in favor of the ideas of young and inexperienced members of Congress is to say that only the young are entitled to the full benefits of American citizenship. Entitlement based on any single characteristic--age, location, education level, income, ethnic status or gender--damages the foundation of this country and democracy as a whole. That knowledge only comes with experience. Manchin knows the difference and should be thanked, not ridiculed.
All of rural America should support Manchin for two reasons. One, because it is a more reasonable course of action than the one currently proposed. And two, to finally rid this country of the notion that this is all about Trump. For far too long, rural communities have carried more than its share of the economic load while surviving policies that built up global trade and weakened local economies. Maybe now, those in Congress will wise up and see that without rural America, this country is nothing.
Keep it up, Senator Manchin.