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Joe Manchin and the myth of the moderate Democrat

If courageous conservative Republicans are an endangered species in Washington, ‘moderate Democrats’ are completely extinct.

Today, Politico’s Burgess Everett shed even more light on this myth – despite their narrative intended to convince us that moderate Democrats do exist and that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is one of them. In a desperate attempt to boost the numbers for Democrats facing tough reelections in red states, Manchin’s lame-duck itinerary most recently included a trip to Louisiana for a photo op with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) where Manchin promised the people of Louisiana that they will work together to uphold their Second Amendment rights. “Mary Landrieu and myself, there’s no way we would let them displace the Second Amendment. We strengthen the Second Amendment.”

Unfortunately for Manchin and other red-state Democrats attempting to sell their constituents conservative rhetoric, the first rule of thumb of public speaking is missing from their talking points: know your audience. Ads displaying a gun-brandishing Manchin may have worked on voters in 2010 but true supporters of the Second Amendment won’t be fooled again after his attempt to pass one of the biggest gun-control measures in the Senate, just a few years later. 

As more of these attempts to promote the liberal agenda under the guise of a ‘moderate’ approach come to light, the more voters will be exposed to the truth that Manchin – and other Democrats who fall into this category like Senator Landrieu (D-LA) - is not even marginally conservative except when it doesn’t count.

Democrats weren’t always a party solely comprised of liberals. Until fairly recently, there were a pocket of southern Democrats who were legitimately pro-life, defenders of the Second Amendment to its fullest extent, and opposed tax increases as a general rule. However, the last vestige of conservative or even moderate Democrats was stamped out over the past decade. In 2006, we witnessed Joe Lieberman (D-CT), a full-spectrum fiscal and social liberal, drubbed out of the party for simply dissenting on some foreign policy-related issues.

Over the past few years, the only moderation we see within the Democrat Party runs as shallow as election-year rhetoric for Democrats elected in deeply conservative states. Even these few red-state Democrats who evince a more pragmatic brand of liberalism on the campaign trail, have no record to back up their claims. Nobody embodies the Washington double-game better than Joe Manchin (D-WV).

As someone often praised for exercising ‘bipartisan acts of kindness,’ Manchin exemplifies the old “two sides to every story” cliché.

Becky Holland is an editor at Conservative Review.

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