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Placeholders and benchwarmers: the Sinemanchin-led Democrats rush once more toward irrelevance.

Nobody can be very surprised at the self-induced nosedive the Democrats took on Tuesday, highlighted but not dominated by the asinine campaign of Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. Add to that the cratering Biden approval figures and the bullying egoism of Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, and we have another example of why the Democrats, in their current configuration of sightless visionaries and indecisive diehards, may never again be a viable force in American politics.

I take no pleasure in that bleak prediction for my party of choice, but at this point, even the Democratic leadership must be coming to grips with its new role in American politics, and it isn’t to win elections. It isn’t even to lead for very long. It’s merely to fill in once in a while and, though not really accomplishing much, to prevent the Republicans from hauling the country back to a moral, sociological, intellectual, and philosophical Stone Age. And as fill-ins for the first team, maybe—tangentially—do some good.

Regarding the environment, for instance, the Biden team has rescinded, abrogated, or overturned some of Trump’s most blatant environmental assaults, while joining the rest of the world in recognizing the threat of our warming earth. Moreover, dangerous insecticides are labeled dangerous again, drinking water in some areas is drinkable, and open water is no longer, by Republican definition, a sewer. None of that can be overstated. We subs are doing our jobs.

Beyond those accomplishments, there is a sense that government positions are once again being staffed by competent men and women and not by the Trump cadre of grifters, thieves, and parolees. And the current president himself is honest and well-meaning, albeit somewhat plodding at times and at other times blind to the internecine activities of his own party’s saboteurs: Manchin and Sinema to name two, but not to name them all by any means.

I once suggested in an earlier blog that Joe Manchin can leave the party and never be missed. I was advised to think twice about it, because without the current 50/50 split in the Senate, the Democrats would accomplish nothing. But now that I understand the role of “my party” as a late-inning replacement or the 12th man on the NBA bench, I no longer fret over Manchin or Sinema. We can balter along with or without them and try to keep democracy in place until the next Republican attempt to dismantle it.

And it will certainly come. With no Supreme Court to act as a guardrail and no charismatic Democrat to rally behind in 2024, there’ll be little opportunity to prevent it or even forestall it. Whether it’s Trump or someone smarter and even more dangerous who leads us back toward aristocracy, people like Sinemanchin will ensure that our current bench-warming position will degenerate into a spectator’s seat in the bleachers. No longer on the team, we’ll have little left but a place from which to view the game...and not a very good place at that.

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