Jemele Hill, a contributing writer for The Atlantic and ex-ESPN anchor, called Senator Joe Manchin a “power-hungry white dude” on Saturday after the moderate Democrat came out against his party’s sweeping voter rights legislation.
Democrats have claimed their “For the People Act” is necessary in light of Republicans’ “assault” on voter rights. However, writing in an essay for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin said he would vote against the bill over concern that any partisan voting legislation “will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy.”
On Twitter, Hill retweeted an Associated Press article on Manchin’s comments and wrote that his decision is “so on brand for this country.”
This is so on brand for this country. Record number of black voters show up to save this democracy, only for white supremacy to be upheld by a cowardly, power-hungry white dude. @Sen_JoeManchin is a clown. https://t.co/fCMuyoLer3
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 6, 2021
“Record number of black voters show up to save this democracy, only for white supremacy to be upheld by a cowardly, power-hungry white dude. @Sen_JoeManchin is a clown,” she wrote.
Hill is no stranger to making controversial comments: In July, she wrote in a post that “if you vote for Donald Trump, you are a racist. You have no wiggle room.” In 2017, the White House called for her to be fired from her role at ESPN after she said that then-President Trump was a white supremacist. She left the network nearly one year later.
The legislation would override hundreds of state laws governing elections, federalize control of voting and elections to an unprecedented degree and end two centuries of state power to draw congressional districts.
It would require states to automatically register eligible voters and offer same-day voter registration. It would also require states to offer no-excuse absentee balloting, as well as 15 days of early voting.
“Unfortunately, we now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized,” writes Manchin, who previously served as West Virginia’s secretary of state. “Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage. Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it.”
He adds that any federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both parties joining together to find a compromise lest lawmakers “risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials”
Manchin also told Fox News Sunday that while he thinks “there’s a lot of great things in that piece of legislation” there is also “an awful lot of things that basically don’t pertain directly to voting.”
However, it is unlikely Democrats will be able to find the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation in the Senate. This has led many progressives to argue that the Senate should eliminate the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold to allow Democrats to pass their agenda with a simple majority.
In his essay published on Sunday, Manchin also reaffirmed his position that he will not vote to eliminate the filibuster.
He notes that Democrats have “attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past.”
“As a reminder, just four short years ago, in 2017 when Republicans held control of the White House and Congress, President Donald Trump was publicly urging Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster,” he said. “Then, it was Senate Democrats who were proudly defending the filibuster. Thirty-three Senate Democrats penned a letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warning of the perils of eliminating the filibuster.”
“Yes, this process can be frustrating and slow,” he writes. “It will force compromises that are not always ideal. But consider the alternative. Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants, whenever it wants? I have always said, ‘If I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ And I cannot explain strictly partisan election reform or blowing up the Senate rules to expedite one party’s agenda.”