Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

To change Manchin's mind, we must appeal to his heart

Anderson edited "Leveraging: A Political, Economic and Societal Framework" (Springer, 2014), has taught at five universities and ran for the Democratic nomination for a Maryland congressional seat in 2016. McIntyre is author of "Post-Truth" (MIT Press, 2018) and "How to Talk to a Science Denier" (MIT Press, 2021).

Now that Sen. Joe Manchin has made it official — he is not going to vote for the For the People Act, nor is he going to agree to repeal or modify the filibuster — it looks like game, set, and match for Republican efforts to obstruct President Biden's legislative agenda. Or is it? What might it take for Manchin (and fellow Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema) to change their minds?

Instead of scorn, what Manchin and Sinema need now are friends in the Democratic Party. Someone needs to figure out a way to bring them to a place where they stop denying the facts — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has clearly said he is 100 percent focused on blocking Biden's agenda, whatever it is — and recognize what their own obstruction might cost us.

If these two senators actually believed our country could lose its democracy and become an autocratic state, surely they would put the fate of the country ahead of the fate of the filibuster, or even the Senate itself. So why can't they see that this is what the protection of voting rights is about?

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

As one of us has written, science deniers are those who refuse to accept empirical reality even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Presenting a science denier with "the facts" just doesn't move them. They retreat into a fog of illogical reasoning, double standards of evidence and reliance on conspiracy theories all meant to protect their identity-driven conviction that what they want to believe in their heart of hearts must be true.

Research shows that the only way to change a denier's mind is to appeal to feelings, rather than logic, and begin to show them the kind of patience, respect and empathy that can break through and build the trust they need to feel safe enough to reconsider. Reason alone — especially when accompanied by ridicule, insults or anger — is not enough to do the trick.

Surely, it's a stretch to compare Manchin and Sinema to flat Earthers and climate deniers, but might the solution be the same? When Manchin announces — despite all evidence to the contrary — that we "have to have faith" that there are 10 "good" GOP senators who will join him in upholding the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, there is some sort of denial going on.

There is no magic solution here, but perhaps the key is to harness one of the central phenomena of our time, namely leveraging, which the other one of us has written about. In all aspects of life, leveraging has become critical to getting things done, whether the issue concerns finance, passage of laws, international negotiation, marketing of products or political outreach.

Indeed, three different kinds of leveraging — financial, bargaining and resource — have all been used in abundance in the last generation as traditional structures of authority have become dismantled, notably the Cold War global environment and the nuclear family where the father is the primary economic provider and the mother is the primary caretaker. When you can no longer just order people to do something, you have to find more creative ways to get them to achieve your ends.

Democratic leaders should appeal to Manchin and Sinema by leveraging nothing less than America itself. It's one thing to try to build a factual case that we are at risk of losing democracy, it's another to talk to them in emotional terms to make them "feel our pain."

Biden should put Manchin to work. If he thinks he can get 10 Republican senators to change their minds on the Lewis voting rights bill, let him. And then, when he fails, Biden can be the shoulder he can cry on, and mourn together the bipartisan Senate they have lost.

Manchin, has spoken quite eloquently about the need for the Senate to maintain bipartisanship, as befits the greatest deliberative body on Earth. But it's now fair for his colleagues to ask him, "Joe, could anything change your mind?"

As it stands, Manchin is so emotionally attached to his goal of preserving the filibuster that he has failed to see what 100 leading scholars of democracy have argued: that the future of American democracy is at stake. If we do not pass a federal voting rights law to override the voter suppression laws that have already been passed in 14 states, "Our entire democracy is now at risk."

In the classic film "The Bridge over the River Kwai," Col. Nicholson, memorably played by Alec Guinness, is so committed to "the bridge" (that his captors insisted he build) that, even when he receives allied orders to blow it up, he refuses. Indeed, upon witnessing his own men's efforts to carry out these orders, he sabotages them.

Finally, after witnessing his men being shot to death, Nicholson realizes his mistake and asks, "What have I done?"

Joe Manchin is one of the most sincere advocates for the integrity of the Senate and bipartisanship in American history. But he has lost sight of what is at stake in this battle for the soul of U.S. democracy. All Democrats must work together to override these racist voter suppression laws, which could move us further in the direction of an autocratic regime and, quite possibly, a second term with Donald Trump as our president.

His fellow senators, President Biden, Vice President Harris and others must help Manchin to "see what he has done" before it is too late. No one can force Manchin to change his mind. All that we can do right now is leverage our mutual love for this country, which might remind Manchin that if he does not change course, American democracy may be lost.

Read More

Wegovy box
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

How Congress can quickly make Ozempic, Wegovy affordable

Pearl, the author of “ChatGPT, MD,” teaches at both the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group.

A whopping one in eight U.S. adults have taken GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic for weight loss and related conditions. Their popularity and efficacy have sparked a prescription-writing frenzy in recent years, leaving both medications on the Food and Drug Administration's drug shortage list since May 2023.

Keep ReadingShow less
Man climbing a set of exterior steps

The author, Miliyon Ethiopis, following a court’s decision to grant his asylum request on June 18.

U.S. immigration court ruling on statelessness could have wide impact

Ethiopis is a co-founder of United Stateless, a national organization led by stateless people.

I feel like I have been born again, after a U.S. immigration court made a remarkable ruling in my “statelessness” case in June. I hope that my case will have significant, broader implications for other stateless people in America.

Being stateless means no country will claim you as a citizen. We don't belong anywhere. Stateless people are military veterans. We are Harvard graduates. We are Holocaust survivors. There are millions of stateless people around the world, and 200,000 such people in the United States.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bar graph of shopping carts
Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Have prices increased 40 percent to 50 percent since Trump left office?

This fact brief was originally published by Wisconsin Watch. Read the original here. Fact briefs are published by newsrooms in the Gigafact network, and republished by The Fulcrum. Visit Gigafact to learn more.

Have prices increased 40 percent to 50 percent since Trump left office?


Cumulative inflation since former President Donald Trump left office in January 2021 through May 2024 was 20.1 percent according to data from the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI-U.

Trump told a crowd on June 18 in Racine, Wis., that "real inflation" is more than twice that.

Keep ReadingShow less
White House

Whoever occupies the Whtie House next year will have the opportunity to make the federal workforce more efficient.

DEA/M. BORCHI/Getty Images

Project 2025: Managing the bureaucracy

Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Chair of Political Science at Skidmore College and author of “A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law.”

This is part of a series offering a nonpartisan counter to Project 2025, a conservative guideline to reforming government and policymaking during the first 180 days of a second Trump administration. The Fulcrum's "Cross-Partisan Project 2025" relies on unbiased critical thinking, reexamines outdated assumptions, and uses reason, scientific evidence, and data in analyzing and critiquing Project 2025

Efficiency is not a word that often comes to mind when contemplating the federal bureaucracy. At almost 3 million workers strong, and representing an eye-popping 2 percent of the entire American labor force, the federal bureaucracy is a behemoth. Add to that eight times as many federal contractors and no one — not Democrats and not Republicans — can claim the bureaucratic sector is streamlined.

Donald Devine, Dennis Dean Kirk and Paul Dans, the authors of chapter 3 of the Heritage Foundation’s “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise” (aka Project 2025), understand the numbers. And the problem. Or at least I thought they did.

Keep ReadingShow less
Protestors call for health care beneifts

People demonstrate in support of health care in 2017 in Montana, which expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images

Has Medicaid expansion in states improved health outcomes?

This fact brief was originally published by EconoFact. Read the original here. Fact briefs are published by newsrooms in the Gigafact network, and republished by The Fulcrum. Visit Gigafact to learn more.

Has Medicaid expansion in states improved health outcomes?


Studies have shown that Medicaid expansion in states does lead to improved health outcomes.

Keep ReadingShow less