God save us from the “moderates” whose penchant is far from moderating in Congress but rather destroying the little good that the progressives are dangling in front of the American electorate. The legislative work of the Democratic so-called majorities in Congress — that have become a figment of political imagination — has produced a cornucopia of “moderate” excesses that have practically destroyed any realistic hope of enacting a strong safety net program. Equally unfortunate is their impact on any residual attempt to salvage the Democratic presidency by allowing Biden to leave an imprint on America’s political future. It is now an obvious truth that President Biden’s chances for reelection are compromised. In my view, this is only the latest chapter in what I consider the excruciating metamorphosis of American electoral politics: the widespread phenomenon of Americans voting against their interests. This self-inflicted electoral paradox was well described by journalist Thomas Frank in his 2004 book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” that looked into the transformation of Kansas, the land of farmers who denounced the power of money, into a solid Republican state in search of an authenticity that erased its economic well-being in the name of meaningless cultural issues.
From that time on, many are the states where populist conservatism has run its destructive course over social and economic equality, due in part to the Democrats’ inability to foster economic policies to benefit the majority of people in those states. Today West Virginia is the new Kansas.West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the descendant of poor Italian immigrants who managed to become a very rich man thanks to his investments in fossil fuels, is the “moderate” who is sabotaging the investments in social legislation with the specious argument that Biden’s agenda is too costly. The damage is all too apparent. The proposal to allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices with the greedy pharma behemoth is hopelessly compromised by the obdurate “moderate” rejection by Senator Manchin and his acolyte Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, aptly renamed the ”sphynx” for her refusal to explain the reasons for her un-democratic dissent from the party. The tragedy — if we may call that — is that the good citizens of West Virginia are gaining nothing from the abstruse behavior of their senator. One senior citizen in four in West Virginia has no teeth and is cut off from the benefits of an extension of Obamacare for dental, hearing and other services. Poor families have no hope of receiving relief from a national paid family leave proposal.
The “moderate” twins Manchin and Sinema are against that too. But they show great largesse toward the 700 billionaires in the nation. Manchin nixed a proposal that would have required billionaires making more than $100 million annually to pay a long term-capital gains tax on unrealized profits.Last but not least, the “moderate” senator of West Virginia, a state that has been hit hard by climate change, continues to push reliance on coal despite scientific assessments that coal is detrimental to long term economic health. There is no room in his portfolio for the climate protections proposed in the Build Back Better Act. America’s friends overseas cannot understand how the entire climate policy of the United States can be hostage of the lust for fame of one coal-state senator. Unfortunately, this paradigm of a paralyzed legislative system is destined to continue until West Virginians, perhaps one day, stop voting against their interests.