Congress has the nation agreeing on one thing: 86 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, according to the latest Gallup poll.
While Americans expect political debates to be intense, what Americans are getting in Washington is dysfunction, where the politicians become so stubborn that both sides are willing to shut the government down rather than resolve their differences.
There has to be a better way and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is determined to find it by reaching out to Republicans.
In April, gun owner Manchin worked with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to propose expanding background checks for online gun sales.
In June, Manchin worked with Sens. Burr, R-N.C., Coburn, R-Okla., Alexander, R-Tenn., and King, I-Maine, on student loan legislation.
In September, Manchin and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., worked with Republicans to pass a resolution that may have headed off a war in Syria.
In October, Manchin and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, led a bipartisan effort to reach a budget deal and avoid default.
Also in October, Manchin worked with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., on consumer credit legislation.
In November, Manchin is working with Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., on a bipartisan effort to protect coal and the nation’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.
Not all his efforts will become laws nor or all popular with his base, but Manchin’s willingness to work together for the good of the nation is refreshing and is making an impact. People are noticing.
Salena Zito, a political writer for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, asked him if he would run for president.
“I can’t say,” Manchin replied. “I mean, you never know. I will help my country any possible way that I can. I really would.”
Right now, Manchin is serving the nation well as the fellow who is willing to listen to the other side and work out a compromise.
That’s what real leaders do.