Today, it appears as if the Kremlin will be installing yet another justice on the Supreme Court through its proxy in the Oval Office. This result comes as a key vote in support of Brett Kavanaugh, that of Susan Collins, was announced a short time ago. Conspicuous in its absence is the reality that an agent of Kremlin nominated Kavanaugh in the first place, and Kavanaugh's boozy emotional instability has been perfectly in keeping with Trumpism and the not-so-slow destruction of democracy as we know it.
While we learned about Collins' vote during her attention-grabbing remarks, we also learned that a Democrat will also be voting to confirm Kavanaugh. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced his infuriating support once Collins provided enough cover.
Manchin is one of the few remaining red state Democrats in the U.S. Senate. According to Nate Silver, he voted with Trump's agenda around 61 percent of the time. Likewise, Manchin voted to support many of the Democrats' big ticket items: he voted to block the repeal of the Affordable Care Act; he voted against Trump's tax cuts; he supports continued federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and so forth.
Not unlike his impending vote to confirm Kavanaugh, Manchin, by his own calculation, has to vote with the Republicans to an extent because of the demographics in his state. However, he's currently eight points ahead of his Republican challenger, stripping away a lot of the electoral considerations of his "yes" vote on Kavanaugh.
Regardless, in the aftermath of Collins' speech and Manchin's announcement on Friday, Democrats flooded Twitter calling for Manchin to be punished in the midterms.
I preface all of this by saying I'm not a fan of Manchin, nor a supporter. I'd rather have a more progressive senator in West Virginia. However, it's West Virginia. Unless there's a major demographic shift, West Virginia will be a red state for the foreseeable future.
Along those lines, the alternative to re-electing Manchin is to risk electing his Republican opponent, Patrick Morrisey, who's already declared himself to be the Trump Candidate. Morrisey sued the federal government to block the ACA; he also sued the EPA on numerous occasions; he supported North Carolina's failed 20-week abortion ban; he threatened to sue Trump if Trump didn't repeal DACA, which was, of course, repealed by the president; and so forth. And, most importantly, he pledged to caucus with his party every time.
In other words, any Democrats voting against Manchin and in support of Morrisey are committing political suicide.
Who are we punishing here: Manchin or ourselves? It's both. We might successfully boot Manchin, but what do we get in return? The sense of satisfaction that we avenged his Kavanaugh vote might feel refreshing for a minute until the reality sinks in that we installed another Trump Republican in the Senate -- assuring a vote with Trump every time instead of 61 percent of the time. This is the political reality we face.
Frankly, I thought the left learned a hard enough lesson about purity tests in the 2016 election. Just because someone votes with Trump 61 percent of the time, we should instead vote for a Republican who will support Trump 100 percent of the time? I'm terrible with math, but even I know those numbers are different by 39 percentage points.
Furthermore, as we're witnessing with great anguish so many of these floor votes coming down to one or two senators, we shouldn't be so willing to just forfeit one of those votes. Others are suggesting we can afford to lose Manchin if we pick up Beto O'Rourke or another Democratic challenger, to which I remind everyone of the old "a bird in the hand..." cliche, as well as the numerical realities of the midterms. Specifically, 33 seats are up for grabs. The Republicans only have to defend eight of their seats, while the Democrats have to defend 25 of their seats. The deck is already stacked against the Dems before any names are factored into the equation. Meanwhile, according to the RCP average, eight seats are tossups, which means the Dems have to win seven of the eight tossups. The problem there is only four Dems are in the tossup category, which now means the Dems have to win all four of their tossup seats plus three of the lean-Republican races. It's possible, but it'll require overwhelming turnout -- not a blue wave, a tsunami -- just to get to 51.
All told, the reality is we're stuck with Manchin until 2024 when another primary will roll along, giving us a chance to nominate a liberal Democrat, though it'll be much more challenging for a liberal candidate to win in the seventh most conservative state. But there's plenty of time to work on a winning strategy. Today, however, it's too late to turn back.
If we're looking for enemies to defeat in November, let's punish the Republicans who, with the exception of Lisa Murkowski, voted in lockstep to support Kavanaugh. Punish the candidates who support Trump and who reflect his atrocious behavior and traitorous alliances. Joe Manchin isn't our pal, and he's casting a horrendous vote this weekend, but he's also not the worst of our enemies by a long shot.