Let’s imagine a presidential ticket that would help to heal America’s partisan political divides by combining a strong Democrat and strong Republican for the 2024 election. How about Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the GOP? Pragmatic, commonsense, and yes, even potentially healing, such a ticket would present a number of positives and strengths to voters across the country.
Naturally, one can assume that many on the left and the right would not entertain allowing such a political team — especially those Democrats who already view Manchin as a traitor to their causes in the Build Back Better bill costing trillions of dollars.
But what if those on the far left and those on the far right make up a minority of the Democratic and Republican parties? Tens of millions of Americans probably feel worn down by the never-ending ideological wars in Washington, some of which filter down to state and local levels, that a small percentage of vocal agitators are pushing.
These voters, along with independents, are tired of the blame game, the empty promises and, with the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, the empty store shelves, soaring fuel prices and disruption of their children’s education and lives. As crime spikes in cities, surely many Americans also are growing tired of the partisanship that has led to rhetorical assaults on police. With the push for green energy and strict climate change policies, we also risk higher prices and the possibility of a failing energy grid.
All of this means the selling out of Americans’ hopes for a better future, no matter which party occupies the White House and holds the power in Congress.
Put simply, many people are mentally and physically exhausted by their political “leaders” kowtowing to special interests such as Big Tech, Big Pharma and various unions.
In case anyone needs reminding, it was just such exhaustion that gave rise to Donald Trump’s successful candidacy in 2016. Because of his unrivaled ego, Trump — and many of his loyalists — always (and mistakenly) believed that he was the reason he won. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trump won because enough Republicans, Democrats and independents united in shared pain: They were all disgusted by entrenched elites from both parties continually disappointing them while spot-welding themselves to special interests who seemingly pulled their strings.
Now, with Trump out of the White House for over a year — though still lurking in the shadows of national politics — one could make the case that non-stop COVID infections, vaccines and booster shots, mask requirements and isolation periods, school closures, woke politics, weakened institutions, and shortages of supplies, voting Americans very well might be open to the radical idea of “any adult leadership” from the Democratic and Republican parties joining forces to represent them.
Some Democrats might be disappointed in Manchin, but his resume and life experiences, and his forcefulness in standing his ground for what he believes, do speak to tens of millions of Americans across the political spectrum. More than that, it’s likely that several million voters have come to view Manchin as the face of a necessary “check-and-balance” on a Congress that tilts more ideological and spend-crazy by the day.
Again, while some may not want to admit it, in a number of very tangible ways, Manchin’s life experiences speak to many Americans. In fact, they shout: “I am one of you.”
Manchin grew up in a small coal mining town in West Virginia. Before becoming a successful small business owner, he worked in his father’s furniture store and grandfather’s grocery store. He is a pilot, hunter, fisherman and motorcyclist, and has been married to his wife Gayle for more than 40 years. He knows politics inside out. Aside from being a U.S. senator since 2010, he was West Virginia’s governor for six years. His Senate bio offers commonsense solutions that entail working pragmatically with those on the other side of the aisle.
Many voters know of DeSantis because of mainstream media coverage of events in Florida during the pandemic. Democratic leaders and various liberals have elevated him to “Public Enemy No. 1” in the political realm. But, like Manchin, DeSantis knows how to take a stand and act on what he believes is right, even if it risks making him unpopular for the moment.
Realistically, the national leaders of both political parties — and likely even the two men’s own advisers — would reject a Manchin-DeSantis ticket for partisan, self-serving reasons, even if millions of Americans might embrace it. But, much like in 2015, at this point, what would they have to lose?
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.