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Est. April 5, 2002
Oct 7, 2021 - Issue 882
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If it were an Elizabethan stage production, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would be the ones to stab the protagonist-hero in the back, in this case, the working class and marginalized of the nation.

President Biden's infrastructure plan of $3.5 trillion over 10 years is designed to bring some aid to children and their parents, to the elderly, to ill-funded schools, and to increase the benefits to those who are on Medicare, among other benefits to the American people. Like the Republicans in Congress, they are now fretting about the cost of the benefits to society and the legacy of debt that such an expenditure will leave for future generations.

Manchin doesn't seem to be worried so much about the debt burden that future generations will inherit when he votes to add billions to the military and the defense apparatus every year. He doesn't mention that and is not likely to bring that up as an issue. Silent Sinema has not revealed what she stands for, either in domestic or foreign policy (as in the military-industrial-media complex). By her silence, she has allied herself with those who pay her freight, the pharmaceutical donors and the banks, which have paid untold money into her political coffers.

She does not seem to be serious in addressing the requirements of her job as senator from Arizona. Recently, when a reporter pointed out that the progressives in her state said that they don't know where she is (on the issues), she replied, “I'm in the Senate.” That pretty much summed up her answer to everything of substance. She's crafty and she's smart enough to keep playing that role for the next three or four years, the length of her senate term. Time and the patience of her constituents will wear out. Already, the progressive groups in Arizona who are credited with pushing her to a win are planning to support a primary opponent, should she decide to run for reelection.

Starting out in the Green Party of Arizona, she eventually became a Democrat and apparently lost some of the fervor of reform that her former party, and she, represented. One of the hallmarks of her transformation was her vote on raising the minimum wage. She walked across the floor of the Senate, came back before the podium, curtsied while giving a thumbs-down on a raise, then walked away. If that didn't show her total disdain for the working class, nothing ever will. For her, as it is for her Republican colleagues, the working class, minorities, and the marginalized do not exist in America. Otherwise, she would be fully in favor of the modest $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill.

What Sinema and Manchin and most of the nation's press never seem to mention is that the $3.5 trillion is spread over 10 years and is essentially dwarfed by U.S. military and defense spending. Both of them have begun to sing the GOP song about the national debt that Republicans seem to pull out of their songbook whenever Democrats are in power. For them, when Republicans are in power, anything goes. Then, the sky's the limit in spending.
Both of these senators love the limelight. They love the attention and they love the power that has been conferred on them by the 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate. They are soaking up as much of the feeling of power as they can get because their days are numbered. The American people get tired of such people eventually and that time is approaching. Neither one could be described as a leader since neither one has expressed what they are really for in the way of programs or policy. Leaders usually believe in something, develop policies or write laws and fight to fulfill them. These two don't.

Manchin is quite transparent. As a multi-millionaire, he is trying to protect his assets and his wealth, most of which is built on coal, a dirty fossil fuel. Sinema is protecting the assets and wealth of her donors in the banking and pharmaceutical industries. She does not express support for any of the programs that the Biden plan seeks: expanded Medicare benefits (new dental, eye, and hearing benefits), two years of tuition-free community college, improved housing and home health care benefits and increased efforts to address climate change and global heating by encouraging clean energy. If she does support these issues, she doesn't discuss them with anyone or advocate for them, except possibly with her corporate donors.

While politicians are a usually slippery lot, Sinema is no slouch at that and knows how to work the press, staying in the spotlight for her short time of fame and celebrity. She does have a GOP counterpart in Marjorie Taylor (MT or “Empty”) Greene, a member of the House of Representatives from a backwater of Georgia, who also knows how to work the press, only her modus operandi is outrageous statements and loud public confrontations with Democrats. On one occasion, she followed and harassed on the street a survivor of a deadly school shooting, saying that he was a coward for walking away from her. No one would say that Sinema is the exact equivalent of Greene, after all, she has a Ph.D. Degree, but that does not confer common sense or a sense of decency on a doctoral candidate.

Not all of the press is playing the Manchin-Sinema game, however, with The Guardian weighing in on Oct. 3, quoting New York magazine's phrase "for the oversized power resting in the hands of the two otherwise unremarkable Democratic holdouts: Manchema." Writing in that magazine, Sarah Jones, said, "They are, in effect, holding the president's priorities hostage to their personal whims...That is not a new story in politics. But their stubbornness in the face of contemporary challenges reveals the bottomless emptiness of their brand of centrist politics."

The pair are not "centrists." They are betraying the untold number of working-class citizens who gave them their votes, thinking that their needs would be represented in the Congress. Instead, the two have been representing the needs of two people: Manchin and Sinema. If greed were a state, that's what they would be representing on the national stage...for money and power.

Manchin, a coal baron, has told his constituents, the people of West Virginia, that he is their champion since he is "one of them." His actions say otherwise and the people of his state might show him the door. Sinema already is facing the ire of the progressive and liberal Democrats in Arizona. She may believe that things are fine and that she will be reelected. The polls say otherwise and she won't be able to imagine herself out of her political troubles.

Sinema seems to think that her erratic and quirky behavior is playing well with her constituents and Democrats across the nation, in general. That kind of behavior may be welcome on a reality television show, but the stage on which she is performing is not primetime television. It is the real world and what she is doing by playing the Republican game is further hurting working-class and minority citizens who are already hurting. She needs to stop trying to play the part of the Democratic Empty Greene and start voting to help Americans in dire need.

BlackCommentator.com Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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