Why are 50 Zombie Republicans getting a free pass?

Photo by Malu Laker on Unsplash

The whole progressive world is screaming at Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.
But why are 50 Zombie Republicans getting a free pass?
The game Sinema and Manchin now play is painfully obvious.
One day before Trump’s violent January 6 coup attempt, the grassroots Georgia Miracle realized a different kind of coup. The Peach State---infamous home to the KKK, with a bloody history defined by centuries of bigotry---unimaginably elected a black preacher and a Jewish filmmaker to the US Senate.
In a safe, reliable, fairly conducted election (imagine that!) the Democrats emerged with a 50-50 split in the Upper House. With the deciding vote in the hands of Vice President Kamela Harris, it meant progressives might have an actual shot at making serious social changes while taking some tangible leaps toward saving our planetary eco-systems.
What nobody realized was that with no real political convictions of their own, Sinema and Manchin had essentially won the lottery. Facing an unbroken, thoroughly lobotomized phalanx of zombie Republicans, their two votes have become the difference between life and death for any kind of progressive agenda. And they are playing it for all it’s worth.
Among the well-heeled army of big money buyers, Manchin is there for King Coal, Sinema has sold her soul to Big Pharma.
The label “centrist” is far too kind. There is nothing about these two that rises to the level of a philosophy or belief system.
In fact, the so-called “progressive” agenda identified with Bernie Sanders is now deeply embedded in the American mainstream. The need to end poverty, hunger, homelessness and the deep abyss between rich and poor are all well accepted by the majority of Americans. So is extending Medicare for All, and having it include coverage for dental and optical needs, along with pharmaceutical price reductions.
Protecting the environment and promoting renewable energy---along with paper ballots and a guaranteed right to vote---have become articles of faith among a huge core of the voting public.
But none of this seems to matter to these two. The term “moderate” has no meaning here.
Try instead “mercenary opportunism.”
Neither Manchin nor Sinema has bothered to put forth a coherent governmental philosophy. Sinema says she wants to cut $100 billion in funds for environmental protection, that she won’t support a rise in taxes on the rich, that she’ll oppose a wide range of progressive demands that she heartily endorsed on her way up to grabbing the keys to the kingdom.
In the midst of a massive political crisis, with actual fascism barking at the American door, she’s taken a Mayzie-bird junket to Europe, where she can expect the celebrity treatment afforded a reckless freebooter who controls the destiny of a dying empire.
Those threatening to “primary” her miss the point. She will clearly emerge from this accidental jaunt through the Darwinian jungle of power and fame as a very rich person. Why would she bother to run again?
For Manchin, the realities are even clearer. He gets a very substantial fossil-fueled income from a company run by his son. He has a long record as a Trumpian grifter, never shy about directly profiting from bills on which he votes. The term “conflict of interest” does not appear in West Virginia Scripture.
He is also an anomaly, a Democrat elected in a formerly blue state now drowning in Trump’s toxic swamp. For this the corporate Democrats share huge blame, having talked blithely about shutting the coal mines while utterly failing to explain renewables as a job-producing reality that could revive the Mountain State’s economy.
We can also look to Cal Cunningham. With enormous activist effort and a great grassroots campaign, Cunningham had every reason to win North Carolina’s open Senate seat in 2020. His victory would have made things 51-49, and a lot easier to deal with than what we have now.
But down the stretch, Cal just HAD to send some sexual texts to a younger woman not his wife, throwing a very winnable contest into the Republican trash.
All this might be moot without the mass lobotomization of fifty (count ’em---FIFTY) Republicans voting in Zombie lockstop against anything and everything that even vaguely smacks of a progressive ideal.
This is not normal. Throughout US history members of the opposing parties have joined together to make meaningful change. During Watergate, Republicans crossed over in droves to rid themselves of a criminal President. In 1964, GOP Minority Leader Everett Dirksen made a legendary plea for Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act, and somehow got 67 Senators to break a filibuster. Today even hinting at such a gesture from Mitch McConnell is beyond conception.
The filibuster itself is a toxic mutant. The original rules of the Congress provided that in both Houses, a simple majority was sufficient to bring a bill to the floor. That changed after a bizarre 1804 speech by then-Vice President Aaron Burr (an infamous Trumpian grifter) which helped poke a procedural loophole that has plagued us ever since.
Passing through various fogs of history, the filibuster (a term derived from a Dutch word meaning “pirate”) has been widely used by southern racists to kill Civil Rights Legislation. It now requires 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate (there’s no such rule in the House) even though the 50 Democrats represent 42 million more Americans than the 50 Republicans.
But while everyone screams at Manchin and Sinema, we hear nary a peep about ALL FIFTY apparently brain-dead Republicans locked into autocratic darkness. In the Age of Trump … McConnell, there is zero expectation that ANY Republican---let alone ten---will do ANYTHING that might advance a human, green or non-Trumpian agenda.
Meanwhile, the Biden plan being howled at for its $3.5 trillion ten-year price tag. But that pales before the annual $1 trillion (or thereabouts) that slides effortlessly through the Congress for the military and CIA. That’s $10 trillion for the decade... and counting.
Not long ago, Barack Obama, who got elected pledging to rid the world of nuclear weapons, got an easy “bi-partisan” trillion through both Houses to “upgrade” them.
Overall thisPrice Is Right/Night of the Living Dead double-feature could doom what’s left of the American Republic.
With gerrymandered state legislatures destroying the right of non-millionaire citizens of youth and color to cast a ballot (and have it fairly counted), and with the Supreme Court now an appendage of the Republican Party, and with corporate money making a mockery to the decision-making of Senators like Manchin, Sinema and those 50 mind-melded Republicans, democracy faces a serious uphill climb.
May the Force be With Us.
Harvey Wasserman's Peoples Spiral of US History will be published at in January. He co-convenes the Grassroots Emergency Election Protection Coalition Zooms every Monday at 5pm eastern (
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.