Former 2-term Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods was never a big campaign donor. He gave modest sums to generic Republicans like Elizabeth Dole and John McCain while he was a Republican, but in 2018, two years of Trump drove him to the Democratic Party. His first max contribution since McCain, who he worked for, went to Joe Biden last year. Now that the GOP has taken a sharp turn towards fascism, Woods is the kind of conservative Republican attracted to conservative Democrats.
One of the Democrats he backed was Kyrsten Sinema, then chair of the Blue Dog Caucus and the most right-wing Democrat in Congress, when she ran for the Senate in 2018. He appeared in one of her ads. Today-- like many Arizonans-- he thinks he may have made a mistake. The fact that she-- along with Joe Manchin-- is blocking the Democrats' bid to reform the filibuster in order to pass the legislation necessary to protect the sanity of the vote, has him accusing her of being a Jim Crow Democrat and telling people she doesn't belong in the Senate.
People are finally starting to wake up to what Sinema is, something I first realized when we served on a board together a decade ago. At the time I was horrified to see that she was severely mentally ill-- a classic sociopath-- and utterly unable care about anyone or anything other than herself. I can't imagine a worse person in politics. She's a lesser-of-two-evils kind politician, although she's never really that much of a lesser evil.
Now she's getting the attention she craves and on Thursday Sarah Jones introduced her to New York Magazine readers. Jones described her as burdened with "conservative ideology, overlaid with a cultivated flippancy. If Sinema cares about anything at all, it can be difficult to tell." It's not likely she could ever win an election again.
Constituent service may not be a top concern, for example. “Outside of calling her general office number, I don’t know how to get ahold of this woman,” a Tucson-area labor leader told The 19th. The leader, Trish Muir of the Pima Area Labor Federation, said that the senator’s Tucson office appeared unoccupied. Her opposition to filibuster reform begs other questions. Sinema co-sponsored S.1, a comprehensive voting-rights bill that earned its designation as a marker of its perceived importance. Yet Sinema steadfastly clings to an obstacle in the bill’s path to passage: the filibuster. The answer she gave reporters in Tucson on Tuesday is nearly identical to comments she made in April, when she suggested that “the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”
Sinema’s commitment to bipartisanship may be proof the senator possesses a coherent ideology after all. But her filibuster comments in Tucson are proof that ideology is based on an alternative history and a false set of facts. Far from being a way for the Senate to discover “comity,” the filibuster was used historically to block major civil-rights bills from passage. As a tool it was useful principally to the defenders of Jim Crow and their allies, not to dewy-eyed bipartisan dreamers. By co-sponsoring S.1, Sinema has thrown her support to the opposing side of history-- in theory. If she’s really serious about voting rights, however, she’s trapped herself in an uncomfortable position. If she wants to keep the filibuster in place, she empowers the modern-day descendants of the old segregationists.
Perhaps she’d like to think such descendants do not exist, that today’s GOP is not the party of Jim Crow. The failure to create a January 6 commission-- an endeavor she had backed, and had urged Republicans to support-- ought to tell her something else. The GOP’s decision to rebrand the January 6 Capitol riot as a simple protest, marred by a handful of agitators, is as inevitable as it is disturbing. The party had been moving to the right before Donald Trump ran for office, and his presidency obviously accelerated its trajectory. Now it can hardly admit the rot in its heart. There will be no reckoning, no penance, no truth and reconciliation. Bipartisanship might still be possible, but only if a Democrat concedes significant ground to a party that opposes voting rights for liberals as a matter of course.
Sinema’s constituents may understand this, even if she doesn’t. Sixty-one percent of Arizonans polled by Data for Progress in March said they prioritize passing legislation over keeping the filibuster. That may help explain why Sinema’s favorability ratings have begun to drop. The same month, the Arizona Public Opinion Pulse poll found that 50 percent of Democratic voters held favorable views of the senator. By contrast, 79 percent of the party’s voters reported favorable views of Arizona’s other Democratic senator, Mark Kelly, who hasn’t endorsed ending the filibuster but hasn’t been vocally defending it either. Those polling results indicate something about the broad appeal of Sinema’s moderate approach, though on some issues, she and Kelly aren’t far apart. Neither senator has endorsed the PRO Act, for example, despite the urging of labor groups.
Beyond her record, however, Sinema’s failures include her public persona. In this, she is not alone. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is a match for Sinema in terms of his commitment to the filibuster, and his statements in its defense are equally ahistorical and ill-considered. There’s no question, either, that women in power are held to different, inequitable standards of conduct. Yet for any senator the bar is necessarily high. That’s the bargain a politician strikes with the public. In exchange for power, a senator is accountable not only to her peers in office but to the press and to voters. Instead, the public gets Sinema wearing a “Fuck Off” ring. If the public opinion doesn’t matter to her, and if passing S.1 doesn’t matter either, then what does? What makes the filibuster so attractive to any Democrat right now? In lieu of answers, Sinema leaves onlookers to assume an ugly truth. She isn’t in office to pass legislation. She’s there for herself.
Sinema owes her Senate seat to Chuck Schumer who handpicked her-- because she was the worst Democrat in the House, not despite of that-- and cleared the field for her. Now Schumer is pulling the same crap around the country-- interfering against progressive candidates in North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania... all states he lost in the past by backing Republican-lite corporate whores, just like he's doing today. Click the thermometer on the left and contribute to the progressives on the ActBlue page... and stop Chuck Schumer from handing those elections over to McConnell. Schumer doesn't want that to happen either, of course; he just can't help himself.