by Marshall Auerback
Thursday, 23
December 2021
Idea
15:15

Joe Manchin: the last blue dog Democrat

The Virginia Senator no longer fits in today's Party
by Marshall Auerback
Credit: Getty

Democrats continue to publicly excoriate West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has apparently torpedoed the second leg of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposals which, among other things, would have supplied generous tax incentives for green energy, provided universal pre-K (pre-school), expanded health-care access, and offered generous child tax credits.

In fairness, Manchin is not alone. He is now providing political cover for other Democrats who had expressed misgivings about the legislation. It is easier for Manchin to do this, as he comes from a red state dominated by coal interests, whereas the other two are in states that increasingly hew blue. In West Virginia, Trump took 68% of the vote against Biden, and the state has not backed a Democrat presidential candidate since 1996. The governor, Jim Justice, won the state gubernatorial race as a Democrat, but quickly swapped to the GOP, and Manchin could easily do the same, thereby causing the Democrats to lose control of the Senate.

Joe Manchin represents a much older kind of ‘blue dog’ conservative-leaning Democrat — a kind not seen since the days since LBJ or even FDR. But in today’s Party he looks like a relic of a bygone era; the priorities of today’s Democrats, as reflected in “Build, Back, Better” pay relatively little heed to the historic New Deal coalition, instead reflecting the priorities of the woke professional-managerial elite.

The social base of the New Deal — a farmer-labour coalition at a time when about a third of the population was rural and a third industrial working class — no longer exists. Now, the party is dominated by a progressive wing that appears to be more interested in trans rights than workers’ rights; and Green New Dealers who advocate climate change measures that could make energy less affordable, as well as reducing the resilience and reliability of the country’s overall energy supply.

In social policy, contemporary Democrats often evoke the Rockefeller Republicans of 1970 — the priorities are Planned Parenthood, the environment, feminism (which used to be an upper-class Republican cause, not Democratic) and civil rights (ditto). Recall that Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act, for example, would not have passed without the assistance of socially liberal Repub­licans, as many of his fellow Democrats were unreconstructed racists and segregationists.

But on economic policy, they eschew supporting the structural changes that would genuinely help the country’s working and middle class. As reflected in the BBB bill, the progressive wing of today’s Democrats is pretending that “care workers” are the new steelworkers, even though this is essentially an elite endowment: by subsidising their maids and nannies and apartment doormen, they don’t have to pay higher wages. Similarly, the federalised day care proposal is for warehousing the children of maids and nannies so they can create a buyer’s market in non-union domestic servants willing to work for peanuts, with the taxpayer picking up the tab to keep them alive.

In effect, BBB socialises the costs of care for this class, but retains a neo-feudal economic model that largely benefits the professional managerial class that now dominates the Democratic Party.

Joe Manchin may be popular fall guy in the press right now, but as columnist Matthew Yglesias notes, “it is not his fault that progressives couldn’t persuade the voters of Maine or Florida or North Carolina that their agenda was worth supporting in a way that would have made him irrelevant.” Indeed. And as traditional swing states like Florida and Ohio turn increasingly red, Joe Manchin may turn out to be the least of the Democratic Party’s problems as we approach the 2022 midterms and then the 2024 presidential election.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
6 months ago

In effect, BBB socialises the costs of care for this class, but retains a neo-feudal economic model that largely benefits the professional managerial class that now dominates the Democratic Party.
This little article summarizes what I suspected for some time. The ‘progressives’ who’re driving Biden’s agenda are not the ordinary folks out protesting (and rioting) in the streets. They’re a much more cynical professional class.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
6 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I don’t think they’re cynical. They’re lying to themselves that they’re “good people”. They’re not.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
6 months ago

Their sanctimony however hits stratospheric heights, as does their contempt for those below, the ‘repugs’ and assorted deplorables.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
6 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The “progressives” embpdy patronizing entitlement, and are increasingly circling their wagons against the plebs. Washington DC has become Versailles-on-the-Potomac. Manchin has somehow managed to not drink the Kool-Aid. But he is still a politician.

James Joyce
James Joyce
6 months ago

Can UnHerd please get a fact checker? And who writes these headlines? Joe Manchin is the Senator from West Virginia, not Virginia. There is a difference. But the headline does have a degree of truth: Manchin “no longer fits” because he is white, he is a man, he is straight, and thus the sworn enemy of the Ds.
I don’t understand a lot of this article–and I’m a Yank. A better way of putting it is that the Ds want to take $ from white people and give it to COWs (Citizens of Wakanda), who are sometimes referred to as poc (people of color, whatever that means). I like my term better, and thus I use it. The elite Ds, citizens of the world, are essentially arguing for “reparations,” no matter what the issue. Massive taxes on white people? Reparations. Allow mass theft from stores? Reparations. Looting and burning down cities? Justifiable rage at endemic racism, and burning it down is a form of reparations. (Don’t ask me how–no idea–but this is how Ds think).
Elizabeth Warren: she just called Elon Musk a “freeloader.” Elon Musk will pay $11 Billion–BILLION–in taxes, and she calls him a freeloader. Please UnHerd, have someone do a story about how Elon Musk in 2021 will pay more in taxes than the combined total of 60 million Americans–whatever the actual number is–I’m betting it’s in the tens of millions–because most people in America do not pay any taxes (aside from sales tax [a form of VAT] and maybe gas taxes).
And this is not unique to America. That citizen of the world, Gordon Brown, said that the West has suffered a stain on its soul because “we” are not giving massive doses of vaccine to corrupt failed states in Africa and other corrupt Third World countries. “No one is safe until everyone is safe” is the utter tosh he repeats. He’s a joke– a Churlish UnHinged Negative Twxx. GB seems to be arguing for reparations because the Third World is too lazy or corrupt to either develop their own vaccine or buy it from us. No free lunch, Corrupt Third World! Time to step up! Pay for your vaccines–and don’t destroy them if they are a week old. The time of the white man’s burden is long gone, which equally applies to the US.
Message to Gordon and to ALL the citizens of the world: They can Let’s Go Brandon!

Last edited 6 months ago by James Joyce
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
6 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Yeehaw! giddy-up.

Last edited 6 months ago by Cathy Carron
Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor
6 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Oh, please, keep that sort of thing up. You, presumably a blue stater, may hate us, but it’s a contemptuous hatred, and thereby blinded to who we are. Please, please, keep pushing us, never pause to reflect that people whom you don’t know may have qualities and potential which you couldn’t imagine. See: Afghanistan.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
6 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Go! JJ

David McDowell
David McDowell
6 months ago

Ahem! “… the progressive wing of today’s Democrats is pretending that “care workers” are the new steelworkers, even though this is essentially an elite endowment: by subsidising their maids and nannies and apartment doormen, they don’t have to pay higher wages. Similarly, the federalised day care proposal is for warehousing the children of maids and nannies so they can create a buyer’s market in non-union domestic servants willing to work for peanuts, with the taxpayer picking up the tab to keep them alive”. Sounds like Tax Credits in the UK.

Warren T
Warren T
6 months ago

51 duly elected Senators against.
49 duly elected Senators for.
Hard to see where democracy is under assault.

Last edited 6 months ago by Warren T
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
6 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

There would likely be more against if there was a blinded vote. Many Democrat senators agree with Joe just don’t want anybody to find out. Senators from solid blue must go along and are at no risk but others must navigate a line trending red and don’t want to be forced to vote.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
6 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

Simple. It’s progressive math. Only the Democrats count. Therefore one person is preventing 49 from passing what they want. Hence, no democracy, it’s a rule of the minority.

James Joyce
James Joyce
6 months ago

Can UnHerd please get a fact checker? And who writes these headlines? Joe Manchin is the Senator from West Virginia, not Virginia. There is a difference. But the headline does have a degree of truth: Manchin “no longer fits” because he is white, he is a man, he is straight, and thus the sworn enemy of the Ds.
I don’t understand a lot of this article–and I’m a Yank. A better way of putting it is that the Ds want to take $ from white people and give it to COWs (Citizens of Wakanda), who are sometimes referred to as doc (people of color, whatever that means). I like my term better, and thus I use it. The elite Ds, citizens of the world, are essentially arguing for “reparations,” no matter what the issue. Massive taxes on white people? Reparations. Allow mass theft from stores? Reparations. Looting and burning down cities? Justifiable rage at endemic racism, and burning it down is a form of reparations. (Don’t ask me how–no idea–but this is how Ds think).
Elizabeth Warren: she just called Elon Musk a “freeloader.” Elon Musk will pay $11 Billion–BILLION–in taxes, and she calls him a freeloader. Please UnHerd, have someone do a story about how Elon Musk in 2021 will pay more in taxes than the combined total of 60 million Americans–whatever the actual number is–I’m betting it’s in the tens of millions–because most people in America do not pay any taxes (aside from sales tax [a form of VAT] and maybe gas taxes).
And this is not unique to America. That citizen of the world, Gordon Brown, said that the West has suffered a stain on its soul because “we” are not giving massive doses of vaccine to corrupt failed states in Africa and other corrupt Third World countries. “No one is safe until everyone is safe” is the utter tosh he repeats. He’s a joke– a Churlish UnHinged Negative Twin. GB seems to be arguing for reparations because the Third World is too lazy or corrupt to either develop their own vaccine or buy it from us. No free lunch, Corrupt Third World! Time to step up! Pay for your vaccines–and don’t destroy them if they are a week old. The time of the white man’s burden is long gone, which equally applies to the US.
Message to Gordon and to ALL the citizens of the world: They can Let’s Go And this is not unique to America. That citizen of the world, Gordon Brown, said that the West has suffered a stain on the world because “we” are not giving massive doses of vaccine to corrupt failed states in Africa and other corrupt Third World countries. “No one is safe until everyone is safe” is the utter tosh he repeats. He’s a joke– a Churlish Negative UnHinged t**t. GB seems to be arguing for reparations because the Third World is too lazy or corrupt to either develop their own vaccine or buy it from us. No free lunch, Corrupt Third World! Time to step up!

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
6 months ago

Why are American political expressions such as ‘blue dog’ so irredeemably vulgar?