You know the expression, “fraying my last nerve?”

The happy gene is not a nerve — it’s a gene — but Joe Manchin is fraying mine.

I mean really: how tragic.

Not least for the people of West Virginia, who need the Build Back Better investment more than just about anybody.  Only four states rival West Virginia in child poverty.  And their own senator won’t let them have it?  Won’t tax the rich a little to cut the cost of child care?  To cut the cost of insulin?  To help the elderly poor get hearing aids?  To deal with the climate crisis?  To give the working poor a boost?

Read this extraordinary White House statement.

I like to think Manchin will reconsider and that compromises will be reached, first on Build Back Better and then, even more important, on voter protection.

They just HAVE to be . . .

. . . because:

The Autocrats Are Winning.  (The Anne Applebaum piece I linked to last week.)

Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun.  (The Bart Gellman piece.)

And . . .

How Civil Wars Start.  (Just out. A must-read conclusion to this trilogy.)

U.S. democracy had received the Polity index’s top score of 10, or close to it, for much of its history. But in the five years of the Trump era, it tumbled precipitously into the anocracy zone; by the end of his presidency, the U.S. score had fallen to a 5, making the country a partial democracy for the first time since 1800. “We are no longer the world’s oldest continuous democracy,” Walter writes. “That honor is now held by Switzerland, followed by New Zealand, and then Canada. We are no longer a peer to nations like Canada, Costa Rica, and Japan, which are all rated a +10 on the Polity index.”

Dropping five points in five years greatly increases the risk of civil war (six points in three years would qualify as “high risk” of civil war). “A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy,” Walter writes. “A country standing on this threshold — as America is now, at +5 — can easily be pushed toward conflict through a combination of bad governance and increasingly undemocratic measures that further weaken its institutions.”

Others have reached similar findings. The Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance put the United States on a list of “backsliding democracies” in a report last month. “The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself,” the report said. And a new survey by the academic consortium Bright Line Watch found that 17 percent of those who identify strongly as Republicans support the use of violence to restore Trump to power, and 39 percent favor doing everything possible to prevent Democrats from governing effectively.

It’s not a long piece — and so worth reading in full.

As is that White House statement on Manchin.

I think we will get through all this.

At the end of the day, we have so much common ground.

But talk about a cliffhanger.

Have a great week!


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