Originial article published at Newsweek.com
The truth of Manchin’s legacy is much simpler and more sinister than a kumbaya campfire song of politics.
While struggling to maintain relevance on the national stage, Sen. Joe Manchin (R-WV) has threatened to go full “Traitor Joe” on the Democratic party. In July, Manchin took his folksy wisdom to New Hampshire on behalf of the anti-Binden Super Pac No Labels. He kicked and moaned about his displeasure with his party and the system he had helped to create. This week, Manchin said he has been considering a departure from the Democratic party for ” some time.” While he still hasn’t said whether or not he will seek re-election to the Senate, West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, and current Republican Rep. Alex Mooney, have entered that race against him, fueling widespread speculation that Manchin simply can’t win again.
As a former West Virginia state senator and congressional candidate, I’ve come to know Joe Manchin and his brand of “centrist” politics well. After serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I returned home to find West Virginians in similar conditions to what I saw in the war-torn Middle East. Manchin’s brand of so-called centrism has left my state poorer, sicker, and with devastatingly fewer options for its young people, who have been running for someone else’s hills.
I can’t recommend Manchin’s brand of politics for my country, regardless of how he chooses to identify himself politically.
“Manchin’s brand of so-called centrism has left my state poorer, sicker, and with devastatingly fewer options for its young people, who have been running for someone else’s hills.”
– Major (Ret.) Richard Ojeda
Anyone who buys this idea of the “Manchin middle” that the No Labels group and his lackeys would have us believe is simply denying the facts. The truth of Manchin’s legacy is much simpler and more sinister than a kumbaya campfire song of politics.
While 69 percent of Americans say that the United States should take steps to become carbon neutral by 2050, the coal-hugging Manchin gets to call himself a moderate. The truth is that Manchin has worked tirelessly to dismantle every climate-saving measure the Biden administration has put forward. Manchin forces so-called “compromises” that amount to a bandaid on a broken leg.
Propping up and staving off the natural decline of big coal and fossil fuels has been a great fundraiser for Manchin’s campaigns. Manchin received more money from coal and oil than any other politician in the 2022 election cycle. While operating under the cover of the Democratic Party, Manchin has continued his anti-climate money grab for big coal CEOs, regardless of its impact on the struggling people of his own state. Since Joe Manchin has been in the Senate, West Virginia has lost over half of its coal mining employment, leaving just over 11,000 coal miners in 2021. Manchin is smart enough to understand the market forces leading to the coal industry’s demise, and he’s willing to risk our collective climate future to continue to prop it up. And despite all of Manchin’s efforts to prop up fossil fuels, West Virginia still ranks 46 of 50 in economic viability.
Joe Manchin has practiced the same brand of politics in Washington as he has back home. While working as big coal’s most prominent advocate in the nation’s capital, he has maintained his reputation as a friend of labor and a small-town hero. Nobody ever said Joe was a lousy politician.
Make no mistake, Joe Manchin is no moderate.
A 100-year legacy of union leadership and values in West Virginia made Manchin a Democrat decades ago, and he now seems a battered relic of a bygone era in Appalachian politics. But make no mistake about it; Joe Manchin is no moderate.
Joe Manchin will abandon his party and proclaimed principles. He will threaten to challenge a Democratic president at the polls when it suits him, and he has held the future of a nation at ransom when it fits his narrative many times, including holding up the Inflation Reduction Act, which celebrates its anniversary this week.
Don’t be fooled.
Major (Retired) Richard Ojeda is a 24-year combat veteran, former West Virginia state senator, and 2018 Congressional candidate. He now serves as the co-founder and spokesperson for Turn Left PAC.
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