Manchin’s Presidential Ambitions: An Elephant in the Democratic Room?

In the fast-evolving world of American politics, the list of prospective contenders for the 2024 presidential elections continues to expand. On the conservative side, there are the likes of Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, and a handful of dark horses waiting in the wings. On the progressive end, self-help author Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., known for his vaccine skepticism, are gearing up for the fight.

Now, a new figure is dipping a toe in the waters of the presidential race. Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative-leaning Democrat from West Virginia, recently hinted that he might consider running for president, potentially as a third-party candidate.

This speculation was fueled in May when the centrist group No Labels was reportedly seeking to sponsor a third-party candidate for the 2024 elections. Reports indicated that Manchin was “at the top of their list.” When questioned about this by Shannon Bream of Fox News, Manchin, after some hesitation, did not categorically dismiss the idea, stating he was “not ruling anything in, not ruling anything out.”

Manchin praised No Labels for its efforts, noting the group’s focus on “common-sense decisions” and criticizing the “noise and extremism” coming from both ends of the political spectrum.

Manchin’s relationship with President Biden has been fraught with tension. He has been at the center of numerous contentious votes under the Biden administration, including, quite memorably, sinking the Build Back Better bill in late 2021. This $2.2 trillion plan aimed at addressing climate change and funding social policies like paid family leave, but Manchin’s opposition drew sharp criticism from his Democratic colleagues.

Yet, the West Virginia Senator has also deftly used his position as a moderate Democrat to his advantage. A recent example is his support for the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, which received final approval in the recent debt ceiling deal signed by President Biden. Manchin happily commented to Bream, “Finally we’re going to finish it.”

So, as we head into the 2024 election cycle, the Democratic party faces a complicated question: How will they navigate the ambitions of someone like Manchin, a conservative Democrat who might just throw his hat in the ring as a third-party candidate? The tension in the Democratic party, it seems, is set to increase.

As politically engaged millennials, it’s our responsibility to not only watch this space, but also actively participate in the conversation. After all, it’s our collective future that’s at stake.