Letter 2 America for October 5, 2021

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Dear America,

I think that Senators Manchin and Sinema like being senators, and probably for a variety of reasons.  They like the prestige, the power, the money (somehow, though they make only $174,000 a year, a lot more than you and I do, more than half of the members of Congress are millionaires), the perquisites and probably the fifteen weeks a year of vacation they take--they only work between 150 and 175 days a year whereas the rest of the working world works about 250.  The Biden "Build Back Better" and infra-structure bills, aimed at diminishing that gap between their lifestyles and ours, are popular with us, but they won't vote for them.  Note that the bipartisan infrastructure bill is favored by 64% of us and opposed by only 24% while the Biden BBB bill is popular with 62% while only 30% oppose it.  In that light, consider that Sinema won her Arizona seat by just over 2% and Manchin won his in West Virginia by just over 3% in 2018 and ask yourself, how can they expect to get reelected in 2024?  These bills are central to a series of national goals: making prosperity more accessible to more of us who are lower down in our economic caste system; retrieving our national prosperity from the effects of the pandemic; modernizing access to our information technology and making it accessible to everyone regardless of location or affluence; reestablishing our nation's economic and technology hegemony, and much more, including climate change and enabling those of us who don't make much money but have children who need care to keep our jobs.  Both bills relate to our collective future, so their obdurate refusal to support them must be secondary to something else that they think will save them; what is it?

There are a couple of things.  First, West Virginia, with 1.8 million people, gets as many senators (2) as does California, with nearly 40 million people.  That gives conservative, rural West Virginia as much power over the direction of the nation as largely urban, recently liberal California has.  This skewed representative-power distortion is required by the constitution, and it has the same effect on the electoral college, which is how Donald Trump became president.  He and the Republicans like to talk about winning elections, but in 2016 for example, they won almost nothing.  (They lost the popular vote, two senate seats and five seats in The House, and really won nothing but the electoral college, yet retained control of The Senate and took the presidency.)  The relevance of those facts for Manchin and Sinema is that we don't really have as democratic a system as we Americans pat ourselves on the back for having, and thus they have the power to chose our national destiny.  The point is that the majority of the American people does not control our destiny; an electoral minority based on geography does...with, they suppose, impunity.  The Democrats have won more votes than the Republicans across the nation in every senatorial election cycle but one over the past thirty years, yet the Republicans have controlled The Senate nine times to only seven for the Democrats.  But the problem isn't just the constitution, which tends to give The Senate a rural slant. There's "gerrymandering" too.   It's redistricting for house elections, gerrymandering, more than anything that is preventing legislative progress.  Manchin and Sinema are wielding disproportionate power in The Senate, but The House has an unrepresentative proportion of Republicans who are as recalcitrant as Manchin and Sinema, all in partisan univocal league preventing us from augmenting our common weal.  While the Democrats have the numbers to pass the bills, they don't have the consensus.  They need some Republicans...just a few...but the party speaks for all of the Republicans, and merit on the issues doesn't count for them.

Manchin has a constituency that will vote for him because of his willingness to take an irrational interest in the coal industry.  He thinks he has impunity for his refusal to do what the majority in the nation wants because the majority in his state is also oriented by its bond to a moribund industry: coal mining.  And he may be legitimately banking on parochial loyalty, but Sinema is a different story.  There is talk of primary challenges in Arizona's Democratic nomination process over her refusal to take a position consistent with her previous, green orientation on BBB.  Her fate may literally be hanging in the balance relative to her refusal to support that bill out of ostensible concern about the national debt, especially in light of the linkage of those bills to reversal of the 2017 Trump tax cuts for the most affluent people and entities in the nation.  Arizona gets more liberal every day, and here she is going in the opposite direction.  She won't stand for reelection until 2024, but when the issue is as big as the on the table today, the enemies she is making won't forget any time soon.

In the final analysis, both Manchin and Sinema won by narrow margins the last time they ran for the Senate, so they are vulnerable.  So what?  Their fellow Democrats may start reminding them that they need the party if they are to stay where they are.  Schumer and the leadership may show some resolve and decide, since they want to play politics, let's play.

Your friend,


No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://letters2america.com/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/attymwol/managed-mt/mt-tb.cgi/929

Leave a comment


Monthly Archives


Powered by Movable Type 4.38

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on October 5, 2021 1:47 PM.

Letter 2 America for September 27, 2021 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for October 29, 2021 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Political Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory