If you look at polls or study social trends, or if you ask any American, you’ll soon know how little faith voters have in the political system these days. Most don’t think the president is doing a good job. Even more don’t trust Congress. And every time some politico starts jumping around saying, “Trust me,” (like Kevin Hart trying to grab the Super Bowl trophy) it just makes it worse. Both parties have stoked the fires of mistrust so relentlessly with attacks on the opposition, they’ve effectively burned their own houses to the ground.
Cue West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin — a Democratic Don Quixote with a radical idea. Manchin is asking all his fellow senators, D’s and R’s alike, to sign a pledge saying they won’t campaign against each other. No nasty ads. No fundraising based on attacks.
At first blush, it may seem a convenient call for a cease-fire among incumbents at a time when a lot of them sit uneasily in their chairs, Manchin included. Still, he is suggesting this is a modest, first step toward draining some of the poison from DC’s “toxic environment,” making it the tiniest bit more likely that those already serving might look across the aisle and see simply opponents — not enemies.
What are the odds of Manchin’s plan catching on? I suspect Harvey Weinstein has a better chance of being the featured speaker at a NOW convention. The runaway partisanship at the heart of the problem is also the primary reason his effort may be doomed. Democrats dismiss their Republican counterparts as heartless jerks. Republicans suggest their Democratic colleagues are spineless ninnies. Just days ago, President Trump called Dems “treasonous” for not applauding more during his State of the Union address. And they do all of this because they have followers who like it — base voters who would rather see the political war rage forever, no matter the cost, rather than risk conceding even the smallest point to the other side.
To be clear: Plenty of voters might like Manchin’s idea, but the hard left and hard right have declared themselves mortal enemies of all things moderate, and that means the man from West Virginia is most likely just tilting at windmills.