MORGANTOWN – The Dominion Post spoke with Sen. Joe Manchin on Thursday to learn more about his plan to seek out America’s “radical middle” – a term he uses with a chuckle knowing it’s an oxymoron – a huge group he says has no one speaking or fighting for it.
The conversation orbited around voter inertia and the fear that a vote for a third-party candidate is essentially a vote for the opposition. Spelling that out: A Republican may not like former President Trump but may vote for him next November anyway, thinking a third-party vote gives the election to Biden; and vice-versa for a Democrat who doesn’t care for President Biden.
Manchin acknowledged that scenario. “I think it goes both ways. … People are just fed up, kind of, with both. They don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”
And in Biden’s case, “the Democrats are just all wound up about that. … Biden’s base is not as strong as Trump’s.”
He talked about the two candidates’ weaknesses and his relationship with both. He said he tried to help Trump succeed during Trump’s first two years, to no avail. And while Manchin feels the first impeachment was mishandled and doomed – he unsuccessfully pushed to just censure Trump – in the second one, based on the Jan. 6 insurrection, guilt was more cut and dried. “The facts were overwhelming that he did what he was accused of. “
With Trump’s propensity to denigrate anyone who opposes him, Manchin said again, and his vowing vengeance on his enemies if reelected, “I truly believe that Donald Trump would destroy the democracy that we know, the country that we have and the respect that we have as a superpower around the world.”
On the other side, “Joe Biden is not the president that myself and a lot of people thought we were electing, that was kind of centrist, in the middle.” Whatever caused it, Biden veered far left as soon as he took office, Manchin said, noting he’s done well with foreign policy but not energy security.
Back to the third-party issues, Manchin talked again about the business models of both national parties. “The business models are outmaneuvering the common sense and the people’s wishes.” It’s a fulfillment of George Washington’s predictions when he left office as the first president, Manchin said. Washington warned Americans to beware of the parties, which will usurp the power of the people, and to beware of public debt – which stood at $33.8 trillion Thursday morning.
We asked how it might be possible to overcome voter fear and inertia – the idea that we’re stuck with Trump and Biden no matter what we really want – among a polarized electorate. He said, “I don’t know. We have to see if common sense is even something they’re concerned about. I think a lot of people take it for granted until they lose it.”
We’re at a decisive moment in our history, Manchin said. We’ve never before seen the two frontrunners who have the strength of their parties behind them, “but when you really dig down deep and did the analysis, the parties didn’t want them. But they figured we have to have them. That tells you they’re playing to the business model more than the people’s wishes and choices and policies.”