Joe Manchin believes James Madison is on his side. Especially re the filibuster issue.
He is not.
Jamelle Bouie wrote a revealing Opinion piece in the New York Times yesterday. Titled: “Joe Manchin Thinks James Madison Is On His Side. Nope.”
I share Bouie’s article with you.
The column rips apart Manchin’s reliance on Madison. Clearly evidences Manchin does not know what he is talking about from an historical perspective. Shameful since Manchin partially relied on Madison’s thinking when he voted against the voting rights and the Build Back Better bills.
Manchin exuded a confidence in rejecting the bills based on his filibuster beliefs routed in what he believed were Madison’s.
Manchin once again proved the ignoramus he is in many respects. This time historically.
When it comes to the Senate, Manchin should know its history well. He has served 11 years in the Senate.
Manchin showed a sickening illiteracy when he said: “Protecting the role of the minority – Democratic or Republican – has protected us from the volatile political swings that we have endured the last 233 years.”
Manchin cited James Madison to support his point: “Madison said the purpose of the Senate was ‘first, to protect the people against their rulers, secondly, to protect the people against the transient impressions into which they themselves may be lead,’ and that the Senate serves as a ‘necessary force against such danger.'”
Why is Manchin’s reliance on Madison without basis? Madison never was a member of the Senate (he did serve four terms in the House of Representatives).
The Madison quote Manchin relied on is found in Madison’s notes of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia dated 6/26/1787. Madison wrote, “The ends to be served…..were first to protect the people against the transient impressions into which they themselves might be led.”
There exists no mention of the word “filibuster” in Madison’s notes. In fact, “filibuster” at the time was not yet in common use or any principle of unlimited debate.
Manchin’s words and those of other filibuster defenders are confusing in view of the following.
Manchin and other filibuster defenders speak of protecting the “minority” in Congress. They mean a “partisan minority,” Democrat or Republican.
The problem/reality is that at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, “no one had any idea of political parties, much less a partisan minority. They did not exist and none of the framers even thought they would.”
Another Bouie observation: “When Madison speaks of a ‘minority’ in the context of the Senate, he means an ‘economic interest,’ not an organized political faction.”
Political parties did not exist nor were they anywhere in the minds of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention.
Madison was not writing about different political parties. He was writing about the mass of the poor, working and indigent against the owners of property and wealth.
Bouie clearly points out that “the question of how to balance power between two partisan factions with in a legislature never came up. Which makes it difficult to use Madison in defense of something like the filibuster.”
Bouie added: “The debate over majority rule in the Senate is not whether the Chamber will have the power to stop any irrational exuberance in its tracks. It’s about whether over an extended period of time, internal deliberations and public debating, a partisan majority in the Senate can pass its agenda into law using a simple majority.”
Bottom line…..a “simple majority” was intended.
The concept has lost its way. And Manchin is not aware such was intended.
So smart is he!
The more I watch Manchin operate, the more convinced I become he is a pretty face hiding an empty head.
Enjoy your Sunday!