So, no, I don't especially care for him.
But I've now officially gotten tired defending him on social media. It's annoying to have to do it repeatedly, and it's all the more difficult having to do so in 280 character increments. The slams against him tend to be pretty close to the same each time --
"Joe Manchin is a Republican!!! Why do Democrats keep supporting him??? They should get someone else in there who would vote with them rather than with his fellow Republicans!!! He votes with Republican all the time. Why is he even a Democrat???? He's a Republican!!!"
Last night's effort was the breaking point for me. It was with some writing the above (as always...), but added the charge that he votes with Republicans 69% of the time, pointing to an article on 538.com that said exactly that with all the votes to prove it. Pretty hard to refute.
Except that it wasn't. Because the article wasn't saying that he voted Republican 69% of the time. It singled out about 30 votes on which Trump has voiced a preference the past year or so, and showed how Joe Manchin voted on those few, handful of votes. He's been in office for eight years, had probably 4,000 votes -- this was 30.
This is the reality.
Joe Manchin votes with Democrats over 70% of the time. I couldn't find his entire voting record, but did track down a pretty comprehensive one. In 2013, he voted with them 69%. In 2014, he voted with Democrats 72.8. In 2017-18, he voted with them 72.8%. Here are those figures on Ballotpedia. And also ProPublica. Both of these organizations are well-regarded, fair and independent. If anything, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pro-Publica may be seen has leaning left, but its core is investigation, wherever the chips far. Actually, let's go even further -- let's look at the list on ProPublica showing ALL Joe Manchin's votes in the current Congress. Not just 30 cherrypicked, but 549 of them, in 2017-18 alone. Here is every one of them. And he votes with Democrats 72.2% of the time.
To be clear, voting with Democrats 72.2% of the time is low for a Democrat. In fact, it's the lowest among Democrats. But -- it's not Republican. If a Republican was elected to that seat, he or she would probably vote with Democrats closer to 0% percent of the time. The average Democrat in the current Congress voted against the party 10.6% of the time. That's more than Joe Manchin who did so 27.8%. But it's OVERWHELMINGLY better than a full 27 Republican senators who voted against their party less than 4% of the time!!!! Hey, John Kyl (R-AZ) voted against his GOP party zero percent. You probably think Kristin Gillibrand, the Democratic senator from New York is pretty liberal -- well, she voted against Democrats 21% of the time. Well, at least you're likely certain that Cory Booker, Democrat from the East Coast elite New Jersey, considered a possible presidential candidate, is very liberal -- but even he voted against his fellow-Democrats 16.1%!
So, whatever you think of Joe Manchin, however much you want to understandably and reasonably criticize his votes...he is NOT "a Republican."
Seriously, folks, what do some people think? That if Democrats nominate someone else other than Joe Manchin in West Virginia they'll elect a liberal there?! West Virginia vote for Trump by 40 points. They are not about to elect a liberal. Joe Manchin represents West Viriginia, not all Democrats in the U.S. A recent liberal PAC announced after Manchin's vote for Kavanaugh that they were pulling any support for him. A liberal PAC? Did they actually think Joe Manchin is a liberal??? Joe Manchin is a moderate. At most, he's a moderate who leans a bit conservative. But he's not a conservative, most-certainly not by today's GOP standards. In today's Republican Party Joe Manchin would probably be considered a flaming left-wing radical. But in the Democratic Party, and in the more expansive real world at large, he is a moderate who probably leans a bit to the right on some issues. And one who represents a deeply conservative state, maybe even one of the most conservative states.
But I'll go a step further --
If Democrats want to win back control of the Senate, whether this November or in 2020, they need 51 votes. That would give them control of the Senate, which means they control all the committee chairmanships, the direction of legislation, and...subpoena power. And to get those 51 votes, you don't want to give anything away, you want Joe Manchin sitting on your side, not a West Virginia actual-Republican.
Much as one can not care for Joe Manchin's voting record -- myself included -- Democrats shouldn't be crying out that he's a "Republican" and should leave the Democratic Party...they should drop to their knees every day and be grateful that he's a Democrat.
To have a Democrat who votes with his party 72% of the time representing a state that's so deep-Red conservative it voted for Trump by 40 points is a blessing from the heaven. Criticize his votes all the time if you like, but understand them and know that he's a Democrat.
Andy, hey, I fit all of that into just 280 characters...!