The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

So as a lot of you know, Joe Manchin kind of lost it on Sunday morning and declared the Build Back Better Act dead, and if you missed the ins and outs of it, it was capably handled here at First Draft by Adrastos and JamieO.

I didn’t write anything about it because I was so mad all I could do was call his office, yes even on a Sunday when no one was there, to leave a message about how I felt. And I called all 4 of his offices. I was delighted because 2 of them had full voice mails even on a Sunday.

I was delighted because that meant people like me were calling—West Virginia Democrats. I was delighted because I knew that the calls would reach an overwhelming rate on Monday and that that would finally get Manchin’s attention.

One of the problems with social media is that everyone is an expert on stuff they know nothing about. And one of the most fundamental tenets of politics is, as Tip O’Neill loved to say, “All politics is local.” But because butthurt travels even faster than a lie, everyone on social media wants to pile on when someone does something stupid/bad and you end up with everyone calling Manchin’s office and their only accomplishment was to piss Manchin off.

The only thing any given politician cares about is their next election. An onslaught of calls from out-of-state/district voters gums up everything in the office and literally accomplishes nothing. But critical feedback from constituents and influential local groups makes a huge difference. And it’s a Festivus (Eve) miracle because that’s what happened.

Not only were the phone lines jammed on Monday when I called (all 4 of) the office(s), but on Tuesday morning my calls were acknowledged with a form email from the senator’s office. I had not left any info on the phone messages except for my name and the county where I lived, but clearly the staff had moved to a new stage where phone calls were acknowledged (and on my part for the first time ever).

(Now the form email that I got was a bunch of lies and garbage which prompted me to call all the numbers again on Tuesday and tell them that I had read the White House’s response so I didn’t appreciate the Manchin office’s attempt to gaslight me and other constituents, but it was a sign that they were finally listening.)

But the really interesting thing that happened was that the United Mine Workers got involved on Tuesday. The organization published an open letter highlighting the provisions of the BBB that were especially important to its members, and also pushing for the passage of voting rights legislation.

Or, as it played out on CNN:

And then on Tuesday afternoon this happened:

Q    Mr. President, you often talk about the importance of keeping your word of trust.  Do you believe Senator Manchin kept his word to you?  And how do you rebuild trust with progressives in your party to advance your legislation now?

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, I told you before — you’ve heard me say this before: Some people think maybe I’m not Irish because I don’t hold a grudge.

Look, I want to get things done.  I still think there’s a possibility of getting Build Back Better done.

What I don’t want to do is get into — and Joe went on TV today and — I don’t know if it was TV or not; I’m told he was speaking to the liberal caucus in the House and said, “Joe Biden didn’t mislead you, I misled you.”

And also this:

Q    Mr. President, did Senator Manchin break his commitment to you?  When you announced the framework, the White House says that all 50 senators were believed to get behind it — all 50 Democratic senators.  So, did Senator Manchin break his commitment to you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Senator Manchin and I are going to get something done.  Thank you.

And then there was this news last night:

If you live in WV, call Manchin’s offices and tell him you want him to support BBB.

George Michael can sing me out: