The Parthenon

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EDITORIAL: ‘This place sucks,’ America agrees

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On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Manchin, the democrat representing West Virginia in the U.S. Senate officially announced his intention to defend his seat in the upcoming midterm election. Certainly, this announcement eased the anxious minds of the democratic party scrambling to retain and gain congressional seats this year. However, according to the New York Times, Manchin’s announcement came with a rebuke for his fellow party members.  Before Manchin officially declared his candidacy, he allegedly said to Sen. minority leader Chuck Schumer and other democrats, “this place sucks.”

This frustrated sentiment came in the midst of a government shutdown, in which the West Virginia democrat was among the very few in his party to vote with Republicans to keep it open.

Manchin explained the context in which he lamented the senate on CNN’s ‘New Day’ Wed. morning, explaining, “We’ve got to come back to regular order and where other senators have input and our voices are heard, we’re able to move the dialogue … I said the place sucks when it doesn’t work. I get a little frustrated at times.”

The moderate senator often chides the polarization of party politics, even tweeting out on Friday that, “governing this way is dangerous to our national security and embarrassing for both political parties.”

Manchin isn’t the only one who is frustrated with the current situation in Washington, with an incredibly large majority of American people disapproving of the legislative branch, according to Gallup Polls. In 2017, only 19 percent of the public was satisfied with congress, the eighth consecutive year the average approval rating was under 20 percent.

“The public’s frustration with government and its leaders has been festering for much of the past decade,” Gallup’s Megan Brenan writes, “and low congressional approval is just one of many manifestations of the public’s dissatisfaction with Washington.”

In fact, in the past several years, when asked what the top problem facing the nation is, another Gallup report indicates that government has been consistently at the top of this list. Also, the polls show that the majority of Americans (54 percent), echoing Manchin’s sentiments, prefer that politicians would simply compromise rather than stick to their principles, versus approximately 18 percent preferring the latter.

Although Manchin was seemingly reluctant to stay in a toxic Washington environment, he expressed his hope to help bridge the political divide on capitol hill in a statement about his reelection on Wednesday.

“I’m running again because I know I can bridge the political divide and put the days of division behind us,” the senator said.

According to the N.Y. Times, Manchin, arguably the most conservative democrat in the senate, told his colleagues that if he can’t win his home state, a state that overwhelmingly voted for Trump in the 2016 election, then the democratic party will remain caught in the minority for a very long time.

“I’ve said this point blank: If people like me can’t win from red states, you’ll be in the minority the rest of your life,” said Manchin to a reporter.

The West Virginia senate race will certainly be one to watch, with Manchin being the clear front runner for the democrats, but his republican opposition comes in the form of current U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, current W.V. attorney general Patrick Morrisey, and Don Blankenship, former Massey Energy Company CEO, who was just recently released from prison for conspiring to willfully violate mine safety and health standards, resulting in one of the deadliest mining disasters in U.S. history.

Manchin is right. If he can’t win in a red state, then no democrat can win a red state. This election will be an indicator of the public opinion of the democratic party, and democrats are well aware of this. With a republican majority in congress, and republican white house, democrats have a lot riding on the public’s decision in 2018, and the more they are seen as obstructionists, it seems the worse their fate will be.  In a time where politics are increasingly polarized and divided, America seems to come to a consensus on one thing: the United States Congress, in its current state, sucks.

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