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Senator Joe Manchin sat bolt upright in his bed, sweat pouring from his forehead and his heart racing.
“Oh my god, what a nightmare. I dreamt about extending healthcare to all my constituents and hurting the poor, helpless insurance companies.”
He was speaking to no one, of course, because Joe’s wife stays in West Virginia when he’s in DC. He doesn’t mind though. It gives him the opportunity to hang out with all his friends that “aren’t interested in politics.”
When Joe walked downstairs and into the kitchen, he noticed that his son had a black eye, and his daughter was washing blood off her knuckles in the kitchen sink.
“Alright kids, what’s going on here? Joe the fourth, did you run into your sister’s hand?” Senator Joe the Third asked his son Joe the Fourth.
“What? No, she clearly punched me in the face why are you so stupid dad?” Lil Joe retorted.
Seeing an opening to get away with this, Brooke, the daughter, chimed in “Dad, I only hit him because we were having a civil discussion about my personal right to punch him in the face. He said I didn’t have the right to physically hurt him, and I disagreed…with polite words.”
“It doesn’t matter about your words when my face is busted!” Squealed Joe IV in between sobs.
Papa Manchin put on his best political voice with all the gravitas of a middle manager at a Burger King to say, “I’m sorry son, I’m gonna have to side with your sister on this one.”
His son was flabbergasted at his father’s lack of compassion for his rapidly swelling face.
Senator Manchin continued, “if I take away your sister’s right to punch you in the face what will happen to spirited debate?”
With his ingenious defense of bipartisanship complete, it was time Joe went to work.
On his way there, he stopped at a red light and hummed his favorite tune “Turn Down for What” by Lil John. That is, he was humming until his car jolted forward unexpectantly.
Joe Manchin quickly realized that he’d been rear-ended. He looked up to see the light was still red, so insurance would likely pay for the mishap if he could just exchange numbers with the other driver.
Manchin unbuckled his seatbelt and went outside to inspect the damage only to find the driver of the other car walking towards him menacingly. Joe thought this was another spirited debate in the making and was giddy with delight.
The approaching driver said (loudly) that the light was green and this accident only happened because Manchin wasn’t paying attention.
Joe replied, “sir, that’s simply not true. I always follow traffic rules and the light was still clearly red.” He continued, “however I do respect your right to have a different opinion, so I can’t really see a way out of this situation.”
The other driver was a man in his late-50’s, but now wore the expression of a teenager getting away with skipping school.
“Oh, is that right?” purred the other driver. “In that case, I’d say this all falls on the stoplight and it’s the city’s fault that a situation like this could even happen. It certainly wasn’t my fault.”
“I was just thinking the same thing!” Manchin exclaimed.
The other driver was already getting back into his car when he shouted back over his shoulder, “I’ll see you later bud! You go ahead and file a civil suit against the city and I’ll cosponsor it.”
Joe was excited about the adventure he was about to embark on with his new friend and compatriot. Then realized there was a key problem: they never exchanged contact information.
“Hey!” Cried the congressman. “What’s your number, or even your name?”
“Later dumbass!” Yelled the other driver as he ran the red light that caused the entire exchange in Manchin’s eyes.
Joe was still in good spirits, though, because he knew a man acting in good faith when he saw it. He resolved to draw up that suit once he got to the office, but needed some caffeine to help his newfound headache.
Defending dissent at his own expense
Manchin parked the newly dented car in the usual spot next to all the Republicans’ cars and crossed the street to his normal coffee shop. He walked in, placed his order, and waited for the hot drink to brew.
“Man-chin?” announced the barista.
“You know it’s pronounced ‘Manchin’ Denise” muttered Joe, no stranger to this kind of treatment at the shop. “I also noticed that your coworker just spit twice into my drink.”
Denise clearly couldn’t care less about Joe’s objection and walked away, one thumb over her shoulder pointing back at the disgruntled Senator.
The manager, Courtney, walked over and breathlessly said “Joe, you know what has to happen for the kids to stop spitting in your coffee.”
Joe Manchin replied, “but if I file an official complaint won’t that infringe on their right to dissent?”
Courtney, a little more heated now, snapped back “I can only institute a ‘no spitting’ policy if you file that complaint! I already have enough similar complaints to make the case, now it’s just a numbers game and you can single handedly turn the tide on this problem”
“Courtney, I’ve been coming here since 2010” Joe started.
“Oh fuck, not this again.” Courtney interrupted.
Manchin, unbothered, continued, “and in all my years, I’ve seen the wonders this coffee shop can do when the staff works together. I didn’t vote against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour just to take away their freedom!”
“And only half of your staff has this problem. While I know who each of the spitters are, I won’t take away their rights. I believe in the integrity of this coffee shop and all the staff that make it up.”
Courtney said flatly, “Okay Joe, have fun with your ruined coffee. I have to run because there’s three people behind you who disagree with your neutral stance on beverage spitting, but don’t have the money to get another drink.”
Joe left, once again feeling good about his conflict resolution skills.
Senator Manchin was finally here. After a long morning he finally walked up the stairs of the Capitol building. He narrowly avoided the armed soldiers that have also called it home since January 6. He was excited to see his coworker and dear friend as soon as he entered the building, so he called out to her.
“Hey democratic king” Kyrsten Sinema gleefully shouted back.
“I’m on my way to see Daddy—oops, I mean minority leader McConnel, want to tag along?” Kyrsten added.
“Absolutely, but first I have a press conference” Joe sounded depressed. “They keep asking why I won’t vote to get rid of the filibuster even though it’s a holdover from Jim Crowe.”
“Don’t worry boss, if there’s one person that can explain the importance of segregation politics it’s you.”
“Thanks Kyrsten, I really needed that. It’s been a long day already.” Joe Manchin responded, a smile creeping onto his face.