Written By: Anton Sawyer
In my articles, I usually try to come up with something witty or snarky to set it up. Sadly, it is not to happen today; there is a lot to unpack here.
From quotes, speeches, and op-eds, the “moderates” of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) have put the entire party over a barrel with their (non)votes and (in)action. The two primary culprits of this hostage takeover are Arizona democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema, and democratic senator of West Virginia Joe Manchin.
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With how much information is available on these two and their obstructionist leanings, today I’m focusing on Kyrsten Sinema singularly. Yes, Manchin has had just as important of a role in stopping the liberal agenda as Sinema, and of course, there will be writings in the future about Manchin, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss it.
Kyrsten Sinema was elected to office in 2018. When it was first announced that Sinema won the election, praise was being rained down on her for being Arizona’s first female senator, and the second-ever openly LGBTQ+ senator. DNC chair Tom Perez reinforced this with a statement released shortly after Sinema’s 2018 victory. “Congratulations to Kyrsten Sinema and Arizona Democrats for such a stunning victory. Arizonans went to the polls last Tuesday looking for bold new leadership, and that’s exactly what they’re going to get with their first-ever female senator and our nation’s second openly LGBTQ senator. Unlike her predecessor, Senator-elect Sinema is ready to fight on day one for quality health care, a VA system that works the way it should for our veterans, comprehensive immigration reform, good-paying jobs, and an economy that works for all Arizonans.” The liberal arm of America was more than excited to have this level of diversity encapsulated into one person within their ranks.
However, with the same amount of speed the praise was being doled out onto Sinema, she began to distance herself from the democratic party. Though there are a few examples to cull from, her most notable act came in 2020 when she refused to participate in the Democratic National Convention virtual program which was designed to formally announce the nomination of then-candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris. Though there was much disappointment over her decision, it wasn’t entirely surprising. Sinema’s refusal to go is consistent with the profile of a politician who rarely attends the state's Democratic Party fundraisers and dinners and has sought to establish herself in the Senate as a “maverick” (much in the same vein as former Arizona Senator John McCain).
Even with this maverick identity she has taken, her statements around the time of the Biden nomination presented her in such a way as to think she would toe the line like all other politicians. She stated, “We certainly don't agree on every issue; I always vote for Arizona first. Vice President Biden is authentic, genuine, and has a track record of building bipartisan coalitions to achieve results. Not all candidates in this race represent those Arizona values. Joe Biden does."
Once she was able to put her name on the books for the next legislative sessions, she was often at odds with the DNC overall. Because of her inability to “go with the flow,” congress tried to use its power to punish her.
At a 2019 Arizona Democratic Party meeting, the resolutions committee unanimously recommended tabling the notion of formally censuring Sinema, either by solely progressives or the state party as a whole. This action left Sinema undeterred from her maverick reputation. Outside of the establishment itself, many different people/entities begged Sinema to uphold her democratic values.
What I find disheartening about this entire censure situation is that Sinema is not the first senator from Arizona who faced being censured; John McCain was as well in 2014. The entire crux of his censure is almost mirrored in that of Sinema’s.
"Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders," the resolution said. "Today we are faced with both. For too long we have waited, hoping Senator McCain would return to our Party's values on his own. That has not happened." It continues with more condemnation. McCain's offenses cited in the resolution included working on comprehensive immigration reform, or "amnesty," and not going along with the conservative strategy to "defund" President Obama's signature health-care law, Obamacare. It continues the rebuke of McCain "for his continued disservice to our state and nation," and said state Republican leaders "will no longer support, campaign for, or endorse John McCain as our US Senator."
As we saw with Mitt Romney at the Trump impeachment trial, the American political landscape has shifted to where if you do not vote on party lines, you will be punished. Romney learned this the hard way as well. Once he got back to his state of Utah, he was facing a censure due to him voting his conscience during the impeachment trial against the ex-president.
Sinema’s professed love for her constituents wound up being an angle that others tried to use in securing her vote to be along the Democratic lines. On September 21, 2021, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare sent a letter to Sinema pleading for her to follow party lines when it comes to the “For The People Act.” If you are unfamiliar with this act, a quick recap shows it’s a bill in the US Congress to expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics (i.e., removing the “Citizens United” ruling which treats a corporation as a person), ban partisan gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders.
This is the major voting rights act that has been a hot-button topic for all politicians leading up to the 2022 mid-term elections. The letter to Sinema has several different facts included. Facts like, “Studies have shown vote-by-mail to be consistently free of fraud. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found only 0.00006% of 250 million votes by mailed ballots nationwide were fraudulent. Additionally, scholars at Stanford University analyzing 1996-2018 data in California, Utah, and Washington found vote-by-mail did not advantage one political party over another.” And “In 2020, many seniors chose vote-by-mail in an effort to exercise their right to vote and stay safe during the pandemic. In fact, 41% of voters ages 50-64 and 55% of voters over age 65 voted by mail in the 2020 election. The safety and convenience of this method of voting is likely to prove equally effective in future elections—unless state legislatures decide to obstruct voting by mail.” These are all valid statistics that any politician should take into account when pushing legislation. In the letter, there’s one part in which they plead for a very specific course of action. “We urge you to support a narrow change to the filibuster rule to allow the Senate to approve S. 1, the For the People Act, by a simple majority vote.”
That last statement is the lynchpin to everything. In the 21st century, we have seen both the democrats and the republicans use this nuclear option to allow for their bills to become law, without needing the 60 votes in the senate as per usual. I have mentioned it a few times throughout the articles on this webzine and have said that if we want to see legislation (ANY legislation) become a law, this is going to be the only clear roadmap. Well, it WAS a clear roadmap.
The Indie Truther is independent, and it’s something we take pride in. We’re constantly looking at laws and other elements of the American landscape that could drastically harm a majority of the population, no matter which political party it’s coming from. So, there is a lot of respect for Sinema when it comes to sticking to her guns, no matter the party. Yet with her statements of “Not all candidates in this race represent those Arizona values. Joe Biden does,” it’s confusing as to why she would not support the voting rights act, given its level of support from the Biden administration and her belief that Biden cares about Arizona constituents. It would allow a lot more Arizonans (and people in general) to vote.
It’s because of her independence (and that of Senator Joe Manchin) that I think it’s actually a good idea that nobody is going nuclear. Whenever the filibuster has been suspended during this century, the party making the move has consistently made sure they would have the votes to pass what is needed. The DNC cannot say the same right now. There is a very good possibility that if the filibuster were ended, the Democrats could end up short with a 48-52 vote (depending on how Sinema or Manchin feels that day). There is no guarantee given the history of statements made by both independent senators as to which way they might throw their support, given a high-pressure situation.
Whether you agree with the voting rights act or not, there is one quote made in 2019 about Sinema that I feel perfectly sums up what the entire democratic party is thinking. When it came time for the Senate to vote on the nomination of Attorney General William Barr, her vote of support surprised many. "Her vote for (Attorney General William) Barr—that was over the top," said Debbie Leverance, a 68-year-old educator from Globe. "She could have voted against him, and Republicans wouldn't have held that against her. I would just like her to remember that she is a Democrat."
As cliché as it is to say, the 2022 mid-term elections are going to have a profound impact on laws/legislation that will be passed until the next presidential election of 2024. With Sinema and Manchin, the liberals have no guarantee that anything they want to make law will happen until the changing of the guard. As much as I love and support the independence of Sinema, this entire situation feels like Arizona was sold a bill of goods … and then they lost the return-receipt.
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