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Tim Miller: Wake up, Democrats!
Nancy Pelosi: Good morning!
Miller: You need moderates like Joe Manchin to win. I promise.
Gandalf: I’m trying to help you.
Pee-wee Herman: I don’t want your help!
Miller: This is Not My Party, brought to you by The Bulwark.
For a second there, it seemed like the Democrats were going to pull off something wild: Pass legislation that would truly help people and then campaign on the success of it.
Shaggy Rogers: Wow!
Miller: You might recall that many weeks ago, the Senate actually passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Claire Underwood: Well, the Dems won the Senate.
Billy Eichner: It’s about time.
Miller: This baby would remove all the lead pipes in the country, fund trains and public transportation, fix our roads and bridges, and make sure we’re prepared for an increasingly extreme climate.
Honey Ellis: That sounds great.
Pete Buttigieg: It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating.
Miller: But along came the Squad and their squadlings. They’re holding the bipartisan bill hostage unless they also get a “human infrastructure bill.” Shout-out to the branding wizard who came up with that one.
The Branding Wizard: Thanks, Tim!
Creepy robo-voiced fake AOC: Human infrastructure. [Golf clap.]
Miller: This $3.5 trillion monster is a grab-bag of liberal priorities. Not to mention it costs taxpayers five times as much as the Obama stimulus.
Barack Obama: Politics is just a big mess.
Miller: But now both the ready-to-go Senate infrastructure bill and the House human infrastructure bill are stalled.
Creepy robo-voiced fake Bernie Sanders: Human infrastructure. [Golf clap.]
Miller: And the nihilist House Republicans, who are completely uninterested in actual governance, are unwilling to work with Democrats to get either of them passed.
Chester J. Lampwick: Not interested.
Miller: They’d rather just laugh about owning the libs and let the Democrats act like monkeys humping a football, once again.
The Man with the Yellow Hat: Oh, Mr. Monkey!
Miller: This drama has ignited yet another left-wing slap-fight between the progressives and the moderates. The progressives think the stubborn, moderate senators need to just get on board with the $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill.
Creepy robo-voiced fake Pramila Jayapal: Human infrastructure. [Golf clap.]
Philip J. Fry: Alright, that’s enough of that.
Miller: And the lefty internet has loudly rendered their verdict.
YouTuber 1: This guy is the most powerful man in the Senate and he’s blocking all progressive change because it wouldn’t line his pockets.
YouTuber 2: Sinema’s done groundbreaking work for the LGBTQ community by proving that queer people can not only be politicians but that they can be shitty politicians.
Miller: Real talk. If you’re a progressive and you’re mad at Kyrsten Sinema because she’s being inscrutable about what she actually wants to pass, hard agree. It seems the only things we can be certain that Sinema is interested in are her triathlons and her quirky outfits—which I kind of love.
But the wokesters lumping her in with Joe Manchin are making a mistake. Here’s why. Sinema represents purple Arizona, an increasingly Democratic state that Biden won. So it’s possible someone more progressive could go on to win there.
Lloyd Christmas: So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance.
Miller: Manchin, on the other hand, represents West Virginia, a state that Trump won by 39 points in 2020. Progressives who want to do better than Manchin are living in a fantasy world.
DJ Khaled: Don’t ever play yourself.
Miller: If he wasn’t there he’d be replaced by Bubba McInsurrection, not a “Country Roads” version of AOC. He’s also different from Sinema because he’s made actual specific demands.
Joe Manchin: So what’s our priorities? Pre-K, childcare, child tax credits—we can do that, but do that in a compassionate way. . . . Let’s target it, I don’t think a person that’s making two-, three-, four-hundred thousand are in as much need as a person on the lower end. If you have X amount, who do you help?
Annie Edison: That actually seems more logical to me.
Miller: If you’re a progressive, you should want more Joe Manchins. It’s the only way you’re ever going to have a big Senate majority again.
Mitch McConnell: Um, you’re right.
Miller: Mr. Smarty Pants, Nate Silver did a good job explaining why.
Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst version): And what’d he say?
Miller: Since rural red states have a disproportionate influence in the Senate, Democrats are boned if they can’t win them.
Some of you might think we should just delete the Senate because it’s stupid and the system is unfair or whatever. But that’s not gonna happen. And being mad is not a strategy.
So if you’re a Democrat who actually wants solutions, there are only two options: (1) Adding more states. D.C. and Puerto Rico are both options and they deserve representation. (2) Try to win in rural areas again. What a crazy idea, actually competing to win!
Chi-Fu (from Mulan): Excellent strategy, sir!
Miller: It wasn’t that long ago that there was a whole slate of conservative pro-life Democrats that won in places like the Dakotas or the South. They might piss liberals off from time to time, but that’s what they need to do to win in their state. If the Dems had a few more moderate senators, their legislative agenda would not hinge on a West Virginia good-ol’ boy and a bisexual contrarian.
So here’s my advice to Democrats: Expend your energy pressuring Congress to make systemic long-term change rather than expensive one-off boondoggles. And support pragmatic moderates in red states, rather than plunging millions into internet-hype candidates who have no chance of winning.
Beto O’Rourke: I could care less.
Miller: Otherwise the current D.C. dysfunction will look mild compared with what’s to come.
We’ll see you next week for more Not My Party.