A Doktor Of Rhetoric Examines Kyrsten Sinema's Filibuster Thoughts, Breaks Own Brain
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), who missed last week's vote on establishing an independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection, showed up in Tucson yesterday and explained she'd missed the vote because she "had a personal family matter," although she didn't care to elaborate on that in the least. We're pretty sure that's US Senate for "Fuck off, I will never explain myself and you can't make me," which is true but unsatisfying. Her office hasn't explained her absence either, but did say that had she been there, she'd have voted for the bill, which nonetheless failed because it couldn't get 10 Republican votes.
But Sinema did have a bit more to say about the many calls for her and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) to please recognize that democracy is in some pretty desperate straits these days, and that their opposition to any sort of reform to the legislative filibuster gives Senate Republicans a veto over investigating the insurrection, and over important Democratic priorities like the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, both of which Sinema says she supports, but which will never get 10 votes from Republicans. Even Joe Biden subtweeted her the other day, albeit while actually talking.
We bet you are really looking forward to the logical case she built for letting the Republicans block everything that Joe Biden wants to achieve, much of which Sinema supports as well!
Here is what Sinema said about the filibuster, courtesy of the Arizona Republic. It's a doozy!
Sinema reiterated her position that the filibuster is a tool that "protects the democracy of our nation" and is meant to create comity and encourage senators from both parties to work together.
"To those who say that we must make a choice between the filibuster and 'X,' I say, this is a false choice," she said.
Except for how, no, that is not actually what the filibuster does. We have been over this before! The filibuster is a mechanism that historically has been used primarily to block civil rights legislation. It has no roots in the Constitution, or even in the debates of the Founders, who spoke of the Senate being a place where a simple majority would prevail. And since it's become routine, the filibuster has more commonly thwarted democracy and discouraged bipartisanship. Here, go listen to a podcast about all that!
OK, but that stuff there was only Sinema's preamble. We bet you are still really looking forward to the logical case she built for preserving the filibuster. Here it is!
The reality is that when you have a system that is not working effectively — and I would think that most would agree that the Senate is not a particularly well-oiled machine, right? The way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior.
Let's break Sinema's statement down a bit, as we rhetorical cartoon doktors like to do.
Stated: The Senate is a system.
Stated: The Senate is not working effectively.
Unstated, and perhaps disputed: The filibuster is a reason the system is not working.
Also, yeah, sure, we do all pretty much agree the system is fucked up so badly that Bob the Builder (From "Bob the Builder") and Bill (From "Only a Bill") would look at it and say, 'Nope, we're fucked." This however, is tangential to the premises.
Someone please explain to this Doktor of Rhetoric how the hell Sinema gets from those premises to the conclusion "The way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to eliminate the rules or change the rules, but to change the behavior"? As sequiturs go, that fucker is NON.
Clearly, Sinema is pulling a bait and switch here, blaming the problems in the system on some personal flaw in the members of the Senate. It's an unstated assertion of additional, entirely unproven premises:
Unstated: The flaw is not in the rules.
Unstated: The flaw is in senators' behavior.
Mind you, assuming the truth of an unexamined premise or premises like that leads to Rebecca's favorite logical fallacy, which she enjoys spotting in the wild, and it is ...?
Rebecca: BEGGING THE QUESTION!
Indeed! Now, you could certainly argue that, in the hands of Republicans since 2009, there has indeed been some pretty bad, dishonest, bad-faith behavior. The best solution actually would be for Republicans to fix their behavior, but they have a political interest in behaving as badly as possible, because gumming up the works is what passes for their actual political ideology, which largely rejects governance from the get-go.
Here's what's missing in Sinema's logic: If the system is broken because of your behavior, you can fix the system by changing your behavior.
But if the system is broken because of someone else's behavior, and they are determined not to change their behavior, you can change your own behavior all you want, but it won't fix the goddamn system. So you'll need to change what, kids? THE SYSTEM.
Now get out of here and don't be tracking syllogism all over the carpet, we just cleaned.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.