On this weekend’s edition of The Sunday Show on MSNBC with host Jonathan Capehart, WV Can’t Wait co-chair Stephen Smith spoke out (alongside Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of, among other groups, the Poor People’s Campaign) against obstruction by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) of the Democratic agenda. At present, Democratic leaders are pushing a $3.5 trillion spending plan that would support numerous aspects of American life falling under a heading that’s been called “human infrastructure,” with money for expanded child care, home health care, and the like — but Manchin has recently been complaining about the price tag for that plan, and in a new op-ed, he said that he “can’t explain” why his Democratic colleagues in the Senate are pushing for the spending. Has he looked around?
Smith discussed a movement within West Virginia to hold Manchin accountable for his perceived capitulation to corporate interests. Just like the people of other states, West Virginia residents could benefit from the policies that Manchin is threatening, but the acute needs of his own constituents don’t appear to be changing the Senator’s dubious calculus. Smith pointedly commented as follows:
‘Here’s a secret that every West Virginian knows. Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito, the rest of our Congressional delegation — they do not represent the working people of West Virginia. They never have; they never will. That’s because up until now, you don’t win high office in West Virginia because you serve the people. You win high office in West Virginia because you serve Exxon. Because you serve out-of-state landowners, bankers, and corporate lawyers — that’s who he’s checking in with. The only language they understand is power, and so the only hope we have on the ground of persuading these establishment politicians is to threaten to replace them. And so, that’s what we’re doing… With every candidate we recruit, every local leader and organizer we train, that threat grows. And we can’t do it alone.’
Check out Smith’s comments below:
— The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart (@TheSundayShow) September 12, 2021
Manchin isn’t the only similarly minded Democratic Senator. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has also expressed opposition to the scope of the spending plan that has been put forward by Democratic leaders, suggesting that even passing something along these lines through a process called budget reconciliation (which requires a simple majority and that’s it) could be difficult. At present, Democrats can not afford to lose a single vote because of the current party breakdown in the Senate. Meanwhile, Manchin has also expressed opposition to the monumental voting rights legislation known as the For the People Act. He’s the only Senate Democrat who hasn’t signed onto the bill as a co-sponsor alongside sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.).