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Manchin a ‘symptom’ of ‘sick’ Senate New York Times columnist claims, demands change to political system

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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has been the target of scorn by the liberal media over reporting that he may block President Biden’s climate agenda, but The New York Times took it a step further Tuesday when a columnist declared the entire Senate is “sick” and called for significant changes to America’s political system. 

The Times published a piece by opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie titled, “Joe Manchin Is a Symptom, but It’s the Senate That’s Sick,” which claimed the majority of likely voters want the government to take steps to incentivize clean energy, make electric vehicles more affordable and would support regulating carbon emissions.

“But Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia does not support these policies. He said so, last week, in an announcement that essentially sank the Democratic Party’s legislative plans to fight climate change,” Bouie wrote. “There is plenty of blame to go around for the death of the Democratic climate agenda. There’s Manchin, of course, but there’s also the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, who played an admittedly bad hand poorly in an incredibly high-stakes game.”

Reports alleged Manchin planned on opposing tax hikes and climate change subsidies as part of a spending bill. However, Manchin pushed back, insisting he hasn’t made a decision, something he signaled will be based on July inflation numbers that will be released next month. 

The New York Times published a piece by opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie titled, "Joe Manchin Is a Symptom, but It’s the Senate That’s Sick," which called for major changes to America’s political system. (DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Times columnist said Schumer “may have doomed the whole process” by signing but not honoring an agreement with Manchin to create a scaled-down version of Build Back Better. Bouie also knocked President Biden and the Republican Party for climate issues, but indicated the Senate is the true villain.

“Above all, there’s the Senate itself,” Bouie wrote. “It may seem odd to blame the institution for this outcome. It’s not as if there is any alternative to passing legislation through both chambers of Congress. But it’s also no accident that climate legislation has repeatedly been passed in the House only to collapse in the Senate.” 

He then declared it’s also “no accident” that “the upper chamber is where popular legislation goes to die or, if it isn’t killed, where it is passed in truncated and diminished form, like the recent (and lackluster) bipartisan gun bill.” The Gray Lady columnist added that Senate was built specifically for this purpose.  

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has been the target of scorn by the liberal media over reporting that he may block President Biden’s climate agenda. ((AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite))

“It was designed to keep the people in check — to put limits on the reach of democracy and the scope of representation,” Bouie wrote. “This is separate from the issue of equal state representation, the constitutional rule by which every state gets two senators, regardless of population. If James Madison had somehow prevailed at the Constitutional Convention and secured a Senate with proportional representation, the chamber would still work to stymie popular legislation.”

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Bouie feels the “simple” explanation is that “American-style bicameralism with its small and powerful upper house works in most cases to put a tight lid on the interests and aspirations of the public and its representatives.”

“Many of the framers of the Constitution were as interested in suppressing the democratic experimentation of the previous decade as they were concerned with building a more powerful national government,” he wrote. “The United States Senate still works to stymie and stifle the ‘pernicious innovations’ that might help ordinary Americans, or preserve the planet for their children and grandchildren.”

Bouie believes it’s time to change “the fundamentals” of America’s political system

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“Americans democratized the election of senators in 1913, but they’ve never addressed the power of the Senate itself. They may never. Practical barriers aside, Americans don’t often think of changing the fundamentals of our political system. But we should. There is nothing about the concept of divided powers that demands a powerful, aristocratic upper chamber. There’s nothing about federalism that requires an elitist check on deliberation and representation. It is not for nothing that a couple of years before the United States ratified the 17th Amendment, Britain stripped its House of Lords of the power to veto most legislation. Perhaps it’s finally time for us to follow suit,” he wrote. “At least as far as the Senate went, the framers chose property and the interests of the few over democracy and the interests of the many. Given the scope and scale of our problems, are we sure we’re happy with their decision?”

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report. 

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