The grim truth is that I suspect that this is correct:
They don't want to vote for voting reform or a big infrastructure bill. They're not on board with Biden's ambitious agenda.
And most importantly: they are fucking cowards.
They don't want to get rid of the filibuster because they don't want to defend their positions publicly.— David Roberts (@drvolts) June 16, 2021
What this means is, "how can Biden/Schumer pressure Manchin?" is probably the wrong question. He's not expressing idiosyncratic preferences that might change. He's running cover for a group. And because they're too chickenshit to identify themselves, they *can't* be pressured.— David Roberts (@drvolts) June 16, 2021
The distal problem is the manifold dysfunctions of the US system of government. The proximate problem is conservative Democratic senators — the *exact same problem* that ended up hobbling Obama's presidency. There are fewer conservative Ds now, but the majority is narrower, so.— David Roberts (@drvolts) June 16, 2021
Anyway, fuck Manchin. But I don't think he's acting alone, which means he probably can't be moved unless as part of much larger movement in the caucus. I have no idea what could produce that, if the evidence so far hasn't.
What a stupid way for a great country to go out.</fin>— David Roberts (@drvolts) June 16, 2021
My guess is that there are a handful of Democratic senators who join Manchin and Sinema in being outright opponents of democratic voting rules. And there’s also probably multiple members of what we might call the Dianne Feinstein caucus, who probably wouldn’t vote to maintain the filibuster if there were 49 votes against it, but are fundamentally and explicitly complacent and aren’t trying to move the caucus in the right direction despite being in completely safe seats:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) broke with colleagues who have said they would “choose democracy” and scrap the filibuster if Republicans tried to block H.R. 1, Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill, telling Forbes, “If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it,” but “I don’t see it being in jeopardy right now.”
Have I mentioned that elderly indispensable-in-their-own-minds elite Democrats refusing to quit, even when they’re sub-replacement-level hacks, is a major problem?
What’s maddening about this, as Roberts says, is that’s pure cowardice. Every Senate Democrat would still have a veto without the filibuster right now, and under the current partisan coalitions anything resembling an actual liberal majority is essentially impossible. They just don’t want to face the pressure that Manchin is getting knowing that they don’t even have the excuse of representing a deep red state, and they’re willing to take American democracy down with them if necessary.