Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee challenged West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to switch parties during an interview on Sunday, encouraging Manchin to leave the “lawlessness” of his party.
“There’s still plenty of time he can still switch parties if he wants to, I encourage him to do so,” Lee told Fox News host Trey Gowdy. “There’s no reason why he belongs with the party of inflation, why he belongs with the party of lawlessness, why he ought to remain with the party that’s harassing intimidating and belittling him at every turn, just so they can fundamentally remake the American economy and American society.”
If Manchin chooses to turn Republican, Lee told Gowdy he is ready to embrace him.
“Joe Manchin absolutely should leave the Democratic Party and I look forward to embracing him when he joins our caucus,” Lee added.
The shift would be monumental and could include enormous consequences in the Senate. If Manchin left the Democrats to become Republican or became Independent and sided with Republicans, the Senate’s power would shift to the Republican Party 51-49.
The change would remove Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from leadership and make currently Minority Leader Mitch McConnell the new leader overnight.
Could it work? Manchin said rumors he had threatened to leave his party were baseless, but noted two details that could be important. First, he mentioned in a recent interview that he offered to Biden to become an Independent if he didn’t want a Democrat who would resist his spending package.
Second, Manchin has noted Republicans have challenged him to switch parties in the past. He’s already been thinking about it. The question is whether he would go through with it.
Though Manchin shares many Democrat views, he has repeatedly spoken out against any efforts to remove the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing policy to keep taxpayer dollars out of funding abortions. He’s a pro-life Democrat in a party where the view is nearly no longer tolerated.
West Virginia has also increasingly shifted conservative. Manchin may be more like to be reelected in his home state if he switched parties than if he chooses to stay with his parties disasters on the economy, the border and other crisis issues that have spiked under Biden’s leadership, or lack of leadership.
Would conservatives really embrace Manchin? They would for now. His vote would change the power in the Senate and perhaps start a trend for other more moderate Democrats. The nation could certainly use more leaders rejecting leftist values.
The downside would be another Republican who is more toward the moderate end of the spectrum. We’re talking more McConnell than Cruz, but at least it’s a start. Most Americans would be happy to see any improvement, and Manchin changing sides could be a welcome start.