Senator Manchin has received a lot of criticism in WV for his politically courageous vote to impeach President Trump. He’s been holding Town Hall meetings to fight back (see WV Gazette, 2-19-20). Before criticizing Manchin, people should review the facts about Trump:

Joe Manchin official Senate photo
  • Trump clearly was guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors” regarding his actions towards the Ukraine. Extorting the President of another nation to convince him to investigate domestic political rivals is the worst thing a President has done in a century. And, Trump admitted that’s exactly what he did in his “perfect call.”
  • His obstruction of justice was crystal clear in the Ukraine case, as cited in the articles and testified to by witnesses before the House.
  •  Even though for political reasons the Democrats didn’t add it to the articles of impeachment, Trump clearly obstructed justice in Mueller’s Russia investigation. Per the Mueller Report, Volume II, page 182: “If we had confidence…the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice we would so state”; “we are unable to reach that conclusion”; “it also does not exonerate him”.

Despite the above, Trump has recently risen in the polls. His base in WV and elsewhere refuses to acknowledge his flaws. 

My best friend is a retired blue-collar worker from a coal mining family who grew up on the WV-PA line. He loves Trump because he “tells it like it is.” My opinion is that Trump says whatever helps him personally at the time, true or not. For example, his pledge to have Mexico pay for a wall versus his current policy of unconstitutionally taking money from Congressional military appropriations.

As for the Democrats, leave the impeachment effort behind. The 2020 question for the Democrats is strategic: “where do we go from here?” Even though they won big time in the 2018 mid-terms, the seeds of self-destruction are still there.

The progressive wing of the Democrats is pushing for more leftward movement on items like Medicare for All and student loan forgiveness. These are policies that I personally support, but they must be thoroughly explained, including how they are to be paid for.

Further, the Party must be broad enough to include other views. What remains of the moderate wing, including Senator Manchin, is convinced that the Dems should fill the centrist hole created by the abdication of the GOP in its rapid capitulation to all things Trump. But, certain elements of the left wing of the Democratic Party has been gunning for moderates like Senator Joe Manchin who are simply reflecting their constituents in their voting.

If the Democrats waste their time fighting amongst themselves about which wing of the party should prevail (as they currently are on social media), the party will destroy itself yet again. Therefore, if they want to win in 2020 and beyond, it’s up to the Democrats to come up with internally agreed upon broad policy proposals to make the lives of ordinary Americans better… especially the blue-collar Trump Democrats in WV as well as the rust belt state hard hats already angered by continued plant closings. And then aggressively, unabashedly sell these proposals to the voters in every state, especially the swing states. In other words, learn from Hillary’s mistakes and win key electoral states (Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and so on). 

Medicare expansion (full, my preference, or partial) is a good start, as is higher education financing and infrastructure revitalization. But, explain how these ideas can be financed without turning us into Greece. And, declare upfront that big corporations and the wealthy need their unpopular Bush, Obama and Trump tax breaks taken away to pay for it. 

Many parts of the nation voted blue in 2018 for the first time in my memory. It is up to the Democrats to give these voters and “swing” independents solid policy reasons to continue that blue trend.

Appeal to the common working person, the people the Democratic Party abandoned to concentrate on special interest politics. Stated another way, can the Democrats restrain themselves from snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory, as usual?

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Photo Credit: the Joe Manchin photo is his official Senate photo and is in the public domain via Wikipedia.org.


Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.