The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats, A Bird in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Bush

Democrats are furious that once again Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has thwarted their latest efforts to resurrect President Biden’s Build Back Better social agenda. Manchin wants to wait till September to see if inflation is slowing down before supporting clean energy and tax increases. At the same time, Manchin has said he would vote to lower prescription drug prices and extend Affordable Care Act funding now.[1]

Democrats should be very angry with Manchin after more than a year of trying to meet his everchanging demands. Still, here’s why Democrats should go along with the West Virginia senator and pass this much smaller bill now with all 50 of their senators aboard, and not wait for a potential larger measure later this year.

First, as the old saying goes, a “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”[2] Americans going to the polls this fall are more likely to remember what each of the two parties have done for them lately. The Democrats will be better off in November if they enact actual prescription drug and healthcare benefits this summer than if they hold out for a larger package that quite likely will not become law before the midterms. Most Republicans will not support even this smaller bill. Like inflation and the economy, drug prices and healthcare costs concern most voters.

Second, if a bill addressing climate change and other reforms does not pass before this year’s elections, Democrats will have another major issue to run on along with abortion rights, gun control, voting rights and saving democracy. Practically all Republicans are opposed to these initiatives and will vote against them. So, Democrats can tell the electorate that if they elect more of them to Congress this November, then they will be able to overcome the opposition and enact those measures next year.

And third, it is critical to get all members of Congress on the record concerning the cost of prescription drugs, healthcare and all these other important issues. Americans must be clear about where their representatives stand, and which party supports each of these critical matters:

Reducing healthcare costs                                                    Dem-yes         Rep-no

Universal background checks/gun safety                           Dem-yes         Rep-no

Ensuring the right of all citizens to vote                             Dem-yes         Rep-no

Guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose                            Dem-yes         Rep-no

Defending our country against autocracy and fascism      Dem-yes         Rep-no

Safeguarding our planet from climate change                   Dem-yes         Rep-no

Voters must also understand that Republicans reject these basic human rights so that Big Business and their wealthy donors can avoid paying their fair share in taxes and adhering to reasonable health, safety and democratic rules and regulations.

The choice is clear. The question is: Can the Democratic Party spell out in simple terms what is at stake in this fall’s elections so that all Americans will get it? And will we who already get it help spread the message? The future of our nation is in our hands.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See, the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at

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