November 19, 2014

Manchin Backs State, Not Party | Wheeling Intelligencer

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is a staunch Democrat who believes in most of his party's principles. But he is a West Virginian first, committed to doing what is best for his fellow Mountain State residents.

Manchin demonstrated that again a few days ago, when Senate Democrats met to elect a new minority leader. That necessity arose when voters throughout the nation sent enough Republicans to the Senate to make that party the majority.

For most Senate Democrats, the decision was easy. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been their majority leader. Voting to make him minority leader was virtually automatic for many in his party.

Not for Manchin. He voted against Reid. He made it clear his action was because that was what his fellow West Virginians expected.

He was right about that. Reid has blocked many pieces of legislation that would have been good for our state's residents, while pursuing initiatives that have hurt us. He has served as President Barack Obama's bodyguard in the Senate - allowing virtually nothing the White House opposes to happen.

His power - and the allegiance of most Senate Democrats to him and other party leaders - was demonstrated by the vote to make him minority leader, starting next year. Even many Democrats from states where voters earlier this month demonstrated their displeasure with the Reid-Obama partnership stuck with Reid.

Manchin's action will be misinterpreted by some observers. It was not a vote against Democrat policies such as those many West Virginians have supported for years, even decades. It was a vote against the current crop of party leaders who have shifted policies far to the left, away from many Democrats in many states, not just ours.

No doubt Manchin is being criticized widely and harshly among some in his party. Those engaging in that miss the point of true public service - to represent one's constituents, not to support one's political party.