Joe Manchin Blasted As 'Cowardly, Power-hungry White Dude' Over Vote Rights

Senator Joe Manchin was criticized by journalist Jemele Hill after he announced that he will join Republicans and oppose the For the People Act, a Democrat bill designed to overhaul election law.

Manchin, a moderate Democrat representing West Virginia, revealed that he will continue to oppose abolishing the filibuster and vote against the major Democratic voting rights bill, in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday.

Writing in his op-ed, Manchin wrote: "The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen."

The bill would force states to automatically register eligible voters and offer same-day voter registration. Democrats have argued that the legislation is necessary to respond to GOP-backed efforts to limit voting across the country, especially in regards to minority communities, while Republicans have said that it will take power away from state officials.

Speaking to Fox News Sunday after his article was published, Manchin went on to explain that "I think there's a lot of great things in that piece of legislation, but there's an awful lot of things that basically don't pertain directly to voting.

"It's the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country, and I'm not supporting that because I think it would divide us more. I don't want to be in a country that's divided any further."

Manchin received criticism from several commentators on Sunday for siding with Republicans on the bill, with journalist Jemele Hill responding to the senator's article: "This 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."

Republicans in several states, including Florida and Georgia, have launched campaigns to enact new voting restrictions, which Democrats allege will make participating in elections hard for their voters, especially for minority communities.

MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan also criticized Manchin on Sunday following the publication of the op-ed, claiming that the senator is "aiding and abetting" Republicans during a segment on the Mehdi Hasan Show.

Hasan said that the senator's opposition to the legislation makes no sense as "it's already been done in a partisan manner. At least 14 states have enacted new Republican laws this year, placing restrictions on the casting of ballots out of at least 389 bills as of mid-May in 48 states.

"Manchin thinks voting is fundamental. He says voting is fundamental. But he doesn't want to do what needs to be done to save it."

During an appearance on MSNBC on Sunday, Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Jamie Harrison also said he was disappointed with Manchin, saying "only one party right now is trying to cut hours in which people can go and vote... that is the Republican Party.

"This is not a both sides issue," Harrison added. "Either you are for protecting voting rights and protecting our democracy or you're against it.

"We have to focus and do all that we can to ensure that all Americans, regardless of whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, get the opportunity to exercise that right."

Newsweek has contacted Manchin and Hill for comment.

Joe Manchin criticized by Jemele Hill
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) attends a news conference at the Marriott Hotel at Waterfront Place June 3, 2021 in Morgantown, West Virginia. Senator Joe Manchin was criticized by journalist Jemele Hill after he announced that he will join Republicans and oppose the For the People Act, a Democrat bill designed to overhaul election law. Michael Swensen/Getty Images