In politics, the term “big tent” refers to allowing a wide array of beliefs and opinions into your political side. For years, Republicans have struggled with the idea, though things have started changing somewhat. The biggest division in the Republican Party right now comes in the form of whether or not you support Donald Trump enough, but that isn’t keeping the average Republican voter for continuing to support Republican candidates in general elections (see: Virginia).
The Democrats, though, have a major issue ahead of them: If they continue to attack Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (and anyone who thinks like they do), they will be narrowing their own pool of potential candidates in future election years. The far-left progressives in the party and the very loud progressive base have made it impossible for anyone who is more centrist to be a viable candidate.
Take the aforementioned Manchin and Sinema.
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) January 12, 2022
Even though he is the de facto leader of our national political institution and the most powerful man in America, he cannot fix democracy. Even if Biden somehow managed to strongarm the uncloaked Klansman from West Virginia or Karen Senator from Arizona into supporting democracy instead of using the filibuster as a tentpole for white supremacist politics, it still would not guarantee an end of Black voter suppression. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act can’t do it nor can grassroots organizers.
Manchin is opposed to changing the Senate rules in a way that gives Republicans more power in the long run because, as he put it, “our leaders in the Senate fail to realize what goes around comes around.” Sinema is opposed to any changes that would threaten her seat in the long run. Both of them are trying to navigate their party through a contentious midterm without losing too many seats and without giving Republicans a major advantage coming in.
Because not only does sacrificing the filibuster for a temporary victory in the voting rights act ensure the Republicans will turn around and do it themselves in the future, even if it is passed, it will be challenged in court almost immediately and take over a year to settle – it won’t solve any problems and will probably get struck down by the Supreme Court.
The Democrats, due to the loudest voices in their party and base calling for blood on a near-constant basis, are shifting further to the left. Chuck Schumer wants to force action on the voting rights bill today, knowing full-well he’s going to lose, because he’s terrified of a primary challenge from his left (there are persistent rumors Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez either wants to run for his seat or find someone to).
We know that it’s not just Manchin and Sinema who are opposed to the Democrats going this far in the Senate. There are probably between 5-7 Democrats in “purple” seats that don’t want to be put on the record as supporting filibuster reform, the heavy-spending Biden agenda, and far-left progressive politics. Not that they don’t support these things, but because they want to stay in power.
And, wanting to stay in power isn’t inherently bad if you’re doing so to continue to move the ball down the field for your party. But when the Manchins and Sinemas of the party are being demonized for their stances, why would anyone who is maybe a little more in the middle want to run and receive that kind of treatment.
As much as Republicans have done a good job of winning elections in the past several elections (even in mitigating Democratic waves in 2018 and 2020), the Democrats are effectively salting the earth where candidate recruitment comes in.
You can’t question abortion. You can’t question Medicare for All. You have to want to pack the Supreme Court. You have to want to eliminate the filibuster. You have to want to federalize elections and call it “voting rights.”
If you don’t do these things, they’ll come for you. You’ll be told you’re upholding white supremacy. You’ll be condemned by the Squad and the media. What sane person wants to go through all of that? The Democrats will find themselves with new, inexperienced, and in many cases unpalatable candidates in 2024 and beyond simply because the good candidates will be tired of going through all this.