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Dear Senator Manchin


An open letter.

I am writing to respectfully ask you to vote to substantially reform, end, or suspend the filibuster.

I understand your impetus to work with Republicans and to do everything possible to achieve bipartisan consensus. At other times in our nation’s history, that laudable goal might have been achievable. Today it is not only illusive, but unattainable.

I believe you are honorably motivated, but there are times when, despite one’s personal good intentions, one must confront the reality that others are not similarly motivated. The sad truth is that, in today’s GOP, there are not ten senators who are willing to join with Democrats in voting for any significant piece of legislation – no matter how critical that legislation might be to the survival of our republic. For proof of that certainty, we need look no further than the vote on the legislation to create a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the January 6, 2021 assault on the capitol building and on Congress itself.

Prior to the vote on the bipartisan independent commission legislation, you said, “I’m not ready to destroy our government. I think a bill will come together. You have to have faith.” To our sorrow, we learned that all the optimism in the world will not move those who are not acting in good faith. Not for the first time Mitch McConnell failed to act in good faith and there is no reason to expect that he ever will.

Recently, 100 scholars of democracy signed a public statement making clear that nothing less that the future of democracy is at stake. Their crucial point is this: our democracy’s long-term viability depends on whether Democrats do what is necessary in order to pass national voting and election administration standards set forth in the For the People Act, which has passed the House and is now before the Senate. Significantly, the scholars note that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore some protections removed by the Supreme Court, would not be sufficient to protect our democracy.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced that the For the People Act will be voted on this month. If the filibuster remains in place, the GOP will kill the bill. In so doing, it is they who will destroy our government. You can stop this. You can be a profile in courage, and stand up to the obstruction and destruction.

I urge you as strongly as I possibly can to vote to end, or substantially reform, the filibuster, or – at a minimum – suspend it for this singular vote on the For the People Act. Please do not continue to maintain unwarranted faith in Republicans who opt to do personal favors for Mitch McConnell at the expense of our republic. If you vote to end, substantially reform, or suspend the filibuster, you will not destroy our government. You will save it.

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