The narrow, muddy, treeless stretch of land that separated German and Allied trenches during the First World War was a very dangerous place that offered no protection.

That is where Democrats find themselves even with a slim majority in the House and an even split in the Senate. While we have a filibuster rule in the Senate that often obstructs popular legislation by requiring a 60-member vote just to do any business, the Senate minority will be able to block what 80 million voted for. (By the way, those 50 Republican U.S. senators represent 40 million fewer people than the 50 Democratic senators do.)

Drunk with new power and loving on the filibuster, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) convinced himself that there were “Ten Little Patriotic” Republicans who would vote for the bipartisan Jan. 6 Commission. 

“The Jan. 6 Commission passed the House with a bipartisan vote. The failed vote in the Senate had six brave Republicans, but that was four short of the ‘Ten Little Patriotic”’ Republicans needed. Choosing to put politics and elections above the health of our Democracy is unconscionable, and the betrayal of the oath we each take is something they will have to live with,” said “Aw Shucks” Manchin.

“Aw Shucks” Joe also took an oath of office to defend this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Why allow the filibuster to give Republicans a veto over what most Americans support – a Jan. 6 Commission, voting rights and infrastructure?

Manchin personally implored Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to be more responsible. Are you kidding? McConnell has proven he always puts party over country  with every breath.

“Aw Shucks” Joe doesn’t want Democrats to advance key items on President Joe Biden’s agenda without “Ten Little Patriotic” Republican votes. He must really love the undemocratic filibuster above country.

After falsely predicting that Republicans would help pass the bill to create a Jan. 6 commission, Manchin expects the infrastructure talks to result in success. “I don’t think this is going to fall apart,” the senator said. Didn’t he say that for the Jan. 6 insurrection bill?

Asked if he’s ready to pass a budget reconciliation bill bypassing the filibuster rule that would allow Democrats to advance an infrastructure measure without Republican support, Manchin said, “No, I don’t think you should. Right now, basically we need to be bipartisan.”

Manchin is forcing the majority party to voluntarily give veto power to the minority party. If the roles were reversed, do you think for a New York minute that McConnell would give the Dems the same courtesy? If you believe that, I have some swampland in Arizona to sell you.

Already carrying water for Mitch McConnell, Joe Manchin wants Democrats and Republicans to put aside their differences, ignore their ideologies and goals, join hands and sing “Kumbaya”.

This is by no means limited to infrastructure. Manchin said that any voting rights legislation must be bipartisan, saying that a single-party push for Democratic-sponsored legislation is a “disaster waiting to happen.”

This week, Sen. McConnell helped make Sen. Manchin look like a sucker again. Manchin has announced he is opposed to the sweeping, “We the People Act.” He would support the ”John Lewis Voting Rights Act” that would gather the “Ten Little Patriotic”  Republican votes. But Obstructionist McConnell threw the whoopee cushion under Manchin and rejected voting rights legislation.

Another way to look at it : Republicans curtailing voting rights as part of a single-party attack on the foundations of our democracy is the true “disaster happening now.”

All this is coming from senators whose states rank: West Va. No. 50 in infrastructure, No. 48 in economy, No. 47 in health care, and No. 45 in education; and Kentucky No. 48 in fiscal stability, No. 44 in health care, No. 40 in economy and No. 36 in education.

West Virginians, like their cousins in Kentucky, desperately need broadband and bridges, voting rights reform, and a Jan. 6 Commission more than most states because of low-educated populations and poor rural communities. 

“Aw Shucks” Joe  and “Obstructionist” Mitch are no more representing the interests of their states or the nation as a whole than the man in the moon.

America, we are unprotected in “No Man’s Land” dangerously close to losing our democratic government.

Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at josephmarshallward@gmail.com