Manchin vs the Mob

June 12, 2021

Robert Miller, Billings, MT – Harold Zuckerman, East Hampton, NY – Barbara Baird, Rayland, OH – Matthew Lefluer, Albert, VT – Bruce Gasber, Summerfield, FL – Carol Hart, Napa CA – Kent Johnstone, Katy Times Reader – Leslie Darga, Edgewater MD – John Gacnik, Glenwood Springs, CO – Ronald Russo, Willoughby, OH, -George Rubertt, North Adams, MA.

A list of names pulled from newspapers and online outlets located in states truly representing the “from sea to shining sea” from America the Beautiful.

Each one the signatory to their very own letter to the editor.

There are few things more “American” than a citizen taking the time to put his/her thoughts to paper or screen, affix their name to those thoughts and submit it for publication for all to read.

And while it’s not the “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” of the signers of the Declaration of Independence each and every one owes its existence to the courage and sacrifice of those founding patriots.

But the names I’ve listed aren’t your regular, run of the mill letter writers.  Oh no. These authors are special.  So special they have achieved a level of mental telepathy that goes beyond the bounds of known science.

Because every one of these “authors” somehow managed to pen the exact same “original” letter.

When you’ve followed politics as long as I have you develop a “sixth sense” when it comes to political speech.

It can be watching a press conference or interview and knowing that the words you just heard are at the least the soundbite of the day or at the worst a campaign killer. (Think Todd Akin’s repulsive “legitimate rape” comment or Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables”.)

Or it can be a political group organizing a fake grass roots campaign that Emmy winning investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson refers to as “astroturfing” or “fake grassroots”.

It’s when “entities deploy surreptitious methods to make us believe ordinary people in grassroots efforts are speaking to an issue when, in fact, organized, paid corporate and political interests are pulling the strings. It’s cloaked propaganda.”

And so it was that when I read the “Senate should end use of filibuster” letter to the editor in last weekend’s edition my sixth sense went to DEFCON 1.

The opening line “constituents like me.” put it on the radar.

The oh so less then truthful line that the For the People Act was a “big reform bill that addresses everything from making voting more accessible and streamlined to getting rid of corruption in government” combined with the personal attack against Republicans Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham verified that there was definitely incoming propaganda.

But the proof positive was the “Imagine all the progress that’s being held up” and “For me, for my community and for communities like mine all across America” closing phrases.

Organic, original letters to the editor, just do not stay so true to a political form letter construct.

Sure enough, a quick copy and paste into a couple of search engines and the exact same letter was published word for word by the “authors” listed in my opening.  The earliest date of publication was May 18 with the latest as of this writing being June 9th.

I hold no ill will towards these copy and paste “authors”.  They’re just exercising what they see as an easy way to participate in the political process.  But I do wish there was a better way to ensure that submissions were original to a person and not a political action committee.

Ironically, the very next day, the man that is truly keeping the filibuster in place, Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, published his own thoughts in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

He acknowledged that “some Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support.” and reminded the reader that when in 2017 when then President Trump was wanting Republicans to end the filibuster it was thirty three Democrats who penned a letter on the importance of the minority party rights that it be kept in place.

He expressed his reasoning “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act.”

And closed with “American democracy is something special, it is bigger than one party, or the tweet-filled partisan attack politics of the moment. It is my sincere hope that all of us, especially those who are privileged to serve, remember our responsibility to do more to unite this country before it is too late.”

Sound and reasonable thought in the vein of a JFK Democrat.

To which I only have one question: “Are you listening Mr. President?”

Publisher Note:  A version of this column appears in the June 12, 2021 edition of the Joplin Globe.

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