Why Kyrsten Sinema Probably Thinks You’re A Chump
People are rightly upset with theoretical Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona. Some have even suggested she's no different from a Republican, but that's not very fair to Republicans. The GOP delivers like Domino's to its bigoted electorate: “We'll screw over minorities in 30 minutes or less!" All Sinema has delivered is stale, lukewarm rhetoric in defense of the filibuster. She even forgot the breadsticks.
Sinema skipped last month's vote to establish a January 6 commission because of a “personal family matter." Republican Senator Steve Daines from Montana almost ghosted on his own daughter's wedding so he could vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski did him a favor and voted “present" instead of “no," like she'd planned, so his understudy didn't have to walk his daughter down the aisle. Last year, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson vowed to show up at the Senate in a “moon suit" to confirm Amy Coney Barrett. A raging pandemic wasn't about to stop the GOP from ramming an extremist onto the Supreme Court. That's comittment!
Republicans will do anything for their most loyal voters. They'll even shred the Constitution and try to overturn elections when their supporters don't like the results. That's amore. Sinema won't even kill the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation to combat the voter suppression laws Republicans are passing with simple party-line votes at the state level.
Sinema did find time last week to partner with Republican Senator John Cornyn from Texas and help promote the GOP's fabricated "border crisis." It's yet another Republican Big Lie that's red meat for the base and a cynical distraction. Almost half of Texas voters in 2020 wanted a wall built on the entire Mexican border, and 91 percent of them supported Cornyn, who also won 68 percent of the white vote against Democratic candidate MJ Hegar. Cornyn won just 33 percent of voters of color. The “scary brown people are invading" platform makes sense for him. However, Sinema lost white voters in 2018 by eight points. The only reason she's currently a senator (more or less) is because she won 70 percent of Latino voters. Immigration is a big concern for Arizona's Latino population, but Cornyn and Sinema have introduced a terrible “bipartisan immigration bill." (Cornyn has also knocked the Biden administration for emphasizing “the humane treatment of immigrants, regardless of their legal status.")
Immigration is not an issue Sinema should highlight anyway. In 2018, professional Senate race loser Martha McSally won 83 percent of voters who considered immigration "the most important issue facing the country." Sinema's saving grace was health care. She beat McSally 77 percent to 20 percent among voters who said that health care was their most important issue. The 2018 election was a referendum on both Donald Trump and the Republicans' failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Immigration is Joe Biden's weakest area in recent polls. It's obvious what Republicans hope to achieve, but Sinema's strategy is harder to pin down. She can't beat Republicans this way. She's also not helping Arizona's junior senator, Mark Kelly, who's up for reelection in 2022. McSally crushed Kelly on “crime and safety," which is how Republicans try to frame the immigration debate. Kelly naturally outperformed McSally on addressing racial inequality. Exit polls showed voters equally concerned about “crime and safety" and racial inequality. Yet Sinema glibly ignores winning Democratic issues.
The Los Angeles Times ran a column last week titled "What's The Matter With Krysten Sinema?" It's similar in theme to a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed titled "What Happened To Elise Stefanik?" However, everything Stefanik's done has made political sense. Sinema is annoying for no good reason.
Barack Obama served notice on the filibuster at the late Rep. John Lewis' funeral. That should've been the end of the discussion for anyone who wants greater Black turnout than a Dave Matthews concert. Does anyone who paid attention to the 2020 Democratic primary seriously believe there's a future for a Democrat who dismisses Obama and the Black vote?
Texas Senator Ted Cruz and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham are craven but they aren't dumb. Every move they take, every statement they make, is about appealing to their base and winning future elections. They know which voters brought them to the dance, and they're gonna Electric Slide to the next insurrection.
Does Sinema act like someone who owes her career to POC voters? Ted Cruz damn well acts like someone who owes his career to white evangelicals. So does Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It's like Cruz and DeSantis are professional politicians.
No, Sinema isn't “basically a Republican." She's more like the Democrats Malcolm X criticized in his 1964 “The Ballot or the Bullet" speech.
The Democrats have been in Washington, DC, only because of the Negro vote. They've been down there four years. And ... all other legislation they wanted to bring up they've brought it up, and gotten it out of the way, and now they bring up you. And now they bring up you! You put them first and they put you last. Because you're a chump!
A recent Civiqs poll reveals that Sinema's approval ratings among all Arizona voters has fallen 17 percentage points since February when she declared herself champion of the filibuster. First rule of politics: Don't treat your supporters like chumps.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."