I have felt like crying all day.
The news that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) seems so entrenched in his position that he will not support the sweeping election reform bill known as the For the People Act (FTPA) has made me ask myself what my five years of activism against Donald Trump’s presidency were for.
It has made me question whether throwing my wholehearted support to President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock was even meaningful.
Manchin advocates for passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is designed to restore pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before states can change election laws, and wants it to advance “through regular order.” But, while Manchin wrote that he was “encouraged by the desire from both sides to transcend partisan politics and strengthen our democracy by protecting voting,” the bill is unlikely to win support from 10 Republican senators and overcome a filibuster.
Manchin most assuredly knows segments of voters are currently very angry with him. But does he realize how many marginalized voters he has completely demoralized? Does he even care?
I understand Trump carried West Virginia by nearly 40 points. I get Manchin must factor that into his decision-making process.
Of the Capitol insurrection, Manchin said, “January 6 changed me… You can’t have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other.” Now Manchin says he feels supporting FTPA along partisan lines would “risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.”
For me, the January 6 insurrection is proof the nation is already so divided that the only thing that can reunite us is federal legislation that is uniform for the minimum standards states must use in conducting free and fair elections.
It is the only way I see of uniting us — if we all understand and accept we are playing from the same set of election rules, no matter the state in which we reside.
Which one of us is wrong? Manchin or me? I am so depressed today I cannot tell.
I am late in the game to political action. Women in my matriarchal line die young due to strokes. I am already a year older than my birth mother was when she dropped dead from a massive cerebral hemorrhage.
Do I have five more years left? Ten? Or is tomorrow all I get?
I don’t know the answer to that or any of life’s other most existential questions.
I only know that when I look back at the last five years of my activism, it feels like that line from Macbeth (Act V, scene 5):
“... It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
That, Sen. Manchin, is how your decisions have affected me today.
Hopefully the rest of the Democratic Party does not feel as dispirited as I do. Because that is everything Republicans want.
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