Krystal Ball: 'Manchin's refusal to back Bernie is particularly galling'

Opinion by: Krystal Ball

West Virginia Senator and corrupt corporate shill Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPolitical purity tests are for losers Former coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda MORE has revealed his true divisive nature. His radical centrism is dividing the party and helping Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE. Is he a Russian asset? Allow me to explain this latest entry in the “anybody but Bernie” diaries. So earlier this week, I wrote about Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE' uptick in the polls, which I attribute to drawing a greater contrast with Warren and more successfully making the case on his particular theory of change. Here he is in an interview earlier this week with CNBC’s John Harwood explaining how he will get a corporatist, like Joe Manchin, to vote for his priorities by literally bringing his working class movement to Manchin's back door. Let's take a listen.

Now this threat actually carries some weight in West Virginia, since Sanders won literally every county in the state in the 2016 primary against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE. Weird that her corporate neoliberalism, which we are always told is the way to win back places like West Virginia, was apparently thoroughly and completely rejected.

Well now, we have a response from Manchin. In an interview with Fox News, he said that if Sanders is the nominee, he will not back him.

So when he was further pushed by Cavuto, Manchin would not say whether he would choose Trump but he made it clear he would absolutely not support Sanders.

Now, I want you to imagine for one moment how many Neera Tanden heads would automatically detonate if Bernie Sanders said he would refuse to back the Democratic nominee and hold out the possibility of choosing Trump instead. The MSM would even cut into all impeachment all the time coverage to go into spasms of rage at the mere possibility that Sanders could possibly support Trump in this unfathomable way. Divisive! Angry! Makes my skin crawl! I don't doubt that some pundit or another would actually propose he was traitor to the nation for giving aid and comfort to Trump. HRC would likely emerge to accuse him of being a Russian asset and spokesperson Nick Merrill would wittily snark: "well, if the nesting doll fits."

Weirdly, none of that happened. As it turns out, I guess with the “vote blue no matter what” mantra, some exclusions do apply; namely, Bernie Sanders exclusions. This whole unity thing doesn't count if it's a centrist Democrat trying to save face with their corporate patrons. It's only when it's a progressive trying to actually get something done for the working class.

Manchin's refusal to back Bernie is particularly galling since he did support Hillary Clinton in 2016, a woman who was despised in the state, lost every county in the primary, and who's model of politics was an integral part of selling Manchin's people down the river. The utter gutting of small towns and small cities, commodification of everything, devastation of unions, and coziness to the Big Pharma companies that have utterly devastated a generation of southern West Virginians; these were the Clinton politics that Manchin was comfortable with. But getting everyone health care and ending the environmental degradation that has literally poisoned the water his people drink and allowed outsiders to come in and suck his state dry of their natural resources leaving nothing in return⸺ that is, apparently in Manchin's words, "not practical."

Here's the thing. For so long we have been told that in a place like West Virginia, you can't do better than Joe Manchin. I've got some roots in the state and I’ve worked in the state a bit, so I’ve got a little bit of an understanding here. And it's true that Joe is one of the few Dems who still wins there statewide. But at the same time, the corrupt, old school Democrats like Manchin are a main part of the reason that the state has lost all faith in Democrats. You combine that with a national party filled with Hillary Clintons who look at the state with contempt, and you've got the makings of a massive political realignment, which of course we have seen.

But I’ll tell you this, I was there at the Capitol building in Charleston when thousands upon thousands of teachers rushed the halls, singing, dancing and demanding a basic standard of living with the chant "we are worthy." Just think about this: these workers, many with families and all with bills to pay, were told they could be arrested for striking and that their actions were illegal and they fricken’ did it anyway. That is more radical militancy than any #Resistance Twitter storm or Women's March, and it shows that a different kind of politics is possible in Appalachia, in the South, and across the heartland. A politics centered around economic populism, solidarity, and telling everyone standing in the way of the working man and woman having a good life to f-off.  That future is coming whether it's this cycle or the next.

If people like Joe Manchin decide they'd rather be Republicans than change their tired ways then by all means, they can take their radical ideas about government serving corporate interests and move right along.