World’s Most Useless Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, Still A Defiant Maverick On Voting Rights
Democrats would love to pass two major voting rights bills: the ambitious For the People Act and the update to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which the John Roberts Supreme Court gutted in 2013. The latter is know as the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and despite using the late congressman's full name, not a single Republican voted for it. They should've considered calling it the Robert E. Lee Voting Rights Act. Rep. Lewis would've been fine with the name change if it protected voting rights. He never wanted glory, just results.
President Joe Biden would love to sign both bills. The problem is that Democrats control the House but only technically control the Senate, because the filibuster or the Democrat Face Puncher 9000 gives Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a veto on all legislation. He's up for rebuilding some roads but not preserving voting rights. That makes sense because white people use roads.
The voting rights group Fair Fight commissioned polls in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The results should shock no one, including McConnell's pet Democrats, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
Fifty-four percent to 64 percent of voters surveyed in each state support the idea of senators passing voting bills along a simple majority — not the 60 votes currently required by Senate filibuster rules.
You see, 60 is not a magic number, and people who support democracy usually believe in majority rule not McConnell rule.
Voting rights legislation, even the For the People Act's sweeping election and campaign finance overhaul, is popular, and not for lack of Republicans trying. McConnell slammed the For the People Act as “socialism for political consultants" that would "forcibly rewrite every state's election laws in ways that defy common sense and are deeply unpopular with American voters." The first one isn't a thing and the last one is a lie. Senator Mike Lee from Utah claimed "everything about the [For the People Act] is rotten to the core. This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself." Lee probably assumes Satan was a co-sponsor of the Social Security Act of 1935.
BREAKING: "Absolutely." @staceyabrams says she could support @Sen_JoeManchin's voting rights compromise. https://t.co/54X5mwZT9D— John Berman (@John Berman) 1623934745.0
All this heightened rhetoric hasn't soured the public on voting rights. This is slam-dunk legislation, but the major obstacle remains filibuster-loving Manchin and Sinema. Manchin even offered a compromise bill that McConnell immediately dismissed because Stacey Abrams liked it. He's that petty and racist. Meanwhile, Sinema is as useless as C-3P0 on the Millennium Falcon.
Sinema was asked recently about whether she'd support a carve-out to the filibuster to save democracy just this once, and her spokesperson Jonathan Lombard's response was a concentrated dose of hot stupid.
The argument here from @SenatorSinema’s spokesperson is so unintentionally revealing of the shallow stupidity of… https://t.co/nuhnoVttcl— Dan Pfeiffer (@Dan Pfeiffer) 1630342599.0
Eliminating that threshold to pass voting-rights legislation that she supports would open the door to that legislation being completely rescinded a few years from now and replaced by nationwide voter-ID law and restrictions on vote-by-mail in federal elections, further undermining voting rights in every state across the nation.
The oh-so-inspiring Sinema believes we should do nothing now because Republicans might do something worse later. She's an insult to the distinguished tradition of political fecklessness. First place, this exact same argument could've been made against the Affordable Care Act, which was far less popular, in 2010. Republicans tried to kill it when they regained Congress and the White House but failed, and don't start about how the filibuster saved it. The GOP's so-called "skinny repeal" would've gutted the ACA and led to 16 million Americans losing healthcare in the following year. By 2017, public support for the ACA had grown so much that the three Republican “nos" on repeal — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and John McCain — had all voted against the bill in 2010.
Sinema once claimed the filibuster promoted bipartisan consensus. That was proven as nonsense when Ted Cruz personally blocked the For the People Act from actual discussion on the Senate floor. Republicans aren't interested in debate or compromise. Sinema should've realized this when they tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election and later killed a bipartisan investigation into the January 6 insurrection.
Now Senator Eeyore just offers defeatist rhetoric posing as traditionalism. Her spokesperson keeps raising the specter of "nationwide voter-ID law," as if Democrats want to let people vote with old Blockbuster video cards. Abrams has said she doesn't oppose all voter ID laws, just the ones that Republicans propose specifically to disenfranchise people of color. Besides, we need to fight the war we're in right now.
Sinema claims she supports voting rights but she sits on her hands while the GOP relentlessly passes voter suppression laws at the state level with simple majorities. McConnell considers defeating voting rights legislation his top priority, so you should consider whose cause Sinema is actually helping advance.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."