U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is working hard to make sure everyone know he opposes the "For the People Act," a large piece of legislation that protects the rights of voters, makes it easier to vote, reduces the influence of dark money in political campaigns, limits partisan gerrymandering, and installs rules of ethics for elected officials. But two critical data points make his arguments useless.
"I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act," Manchin said in a now-infamous op-ed in a West Virginia newspaper.
He offered zero criticisms of the legislation itself, just that no Republican supports it. And that it is 800 pages, if that is even a criticism.
But as Business Insider reports, "Joe Manchin cosponsored the voting-rights bill in 2019 that he's now blocking on the grounds that the GOP doesn't like it."
That's one problem. Here's the second, or, as MSNBC Opinion Columnist Hayes Brown writes, "the real kicker":
"Unless the senator's office has some private polling that they'd like to share, Manchin's assumptions about what West Virginians want are wrong. According to a poll released last month — commissioned by End Citizens United and Let America Vote Action Fund and conducted by Global Strategy Group and ALG Research — the For the People Act is wildly popular among likely voters in West Virginia. Like '76 percent of Republicans are in favor' levels of popularity, to say nothing of the 79 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats."
Here's MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Monday night explaining this second critical fact. She says the "For the People Act" legislation "is more popular than the infrastructure bill, it is more popular than COVID relief."
Rachel Maddow shows that Joe Manchin is defying the will of a majority of Republican voters in West Virginia on the voting rights bill and a majority of West Virginia voters on the filibuster. pic.twitter.com/vnxhhu2Cpv
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) June 8, 2021
So why is Senator Manchin really against legislation that he supported two years ago and that eight in 10 of his constituents support?
Judd Legum, the ThinkProgress co-founder and the founder of Popular Information calls Manchin's publicly-stated reasons for opposing the For the People Act "very strange."
"On an entirely partisan basis, Republicans in the states are taking steps that Manchin himself acknowledges 'needlessly restrict voting.' But Manchin says he will only agree to stop this partisan power grab if Republicans agree to join him."
"This is the exact same argument the Chamber used in talking points it sent to Senators in April opposing the legislation," Legum writes, offering up the Chamber of Commerce's own words (bolding his):
The Chamber believes the ability of Americans to exercise their right to vote in accessible and secure elections and to be able to trust in a free and fair outcome is fundamental to who we are as a nation. The Chamber is deeply troubled by efforts at the state and federal level to enact election law changes on a partisan basis. Changes enacted on a partisan basis are the most likely to erode access and security and undermine public confidence and the willingness of the American people to trust and accept future election outcomes.