Sinema to progressives: Pound sand

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Looks like that $1.4 million progressives are dropping in Arizona could just as well have been tossed in a bonfire. Not only does Kyrsten Sinema have her mind made up on preserving the filibuster as is, the senior senator from Arizona appears to enjoy rebuking progressives as publicly as she can. Last night, Sinema published an op-ed in the Washington Post declaring her refusal to move one inch on the filibuster.

Sinema makes a compelling argument to progressives who seem to forget that Democrats won’t always win elections:

To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass the For the People Act (voting-rights legislation I support and have co-sponsored), I would ask: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the minority?

To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to expand health-care access or retirement benefits: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to later see that legislation replaced by legislation dividing Medicaid into block grants, slashing earned Social Security and Medicare benefits, or defunding women’s reproductive health services? …

This question is less about the immediate results from any of these Democratic or Republican goals — it is the likelihood of repeated radical reversals in federal policy, cementing uncertainty, deepening divisions and further eroding Americans’ confidence in our government.

Given that progressives’ entire agenda relies on popularizing government as the ultimate solution for all of life’s ills, that hardly works in their best interest. If reason doesn’t work, however, Sinema tries a little shame. She points out the hypocrisy from the same progressives who demanded a filibuster last year on Tim Scott’s police-reform proposal:

It’s no secret that I oppose eliminating the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. I held the same view during three terms in the U.S. House, and said the same after I was elected to the Senate in 2018. If anyone expected me to reverse my position because my party now controls the Senate, they should know that my approach to legislating in Congress is the same whether in the minority or majority.

Once in a majority, it is tempting to believe you will stay in the majority. But a Democratic Senate minority used the 60-vote threshold just last year to filibuster a police reform proposal and a covid-relief bill that many Democrats viewed as inadequate. Those filibusters were mounted not as attempts to block progress, but to force continued negotiations toward better solutions.

As for Just Democracy’s aforementioned $1.4 million campaign against her on the filibuster, Sinema scoffs at the effort. “Everyday Arizonans” don’t spend their time worrying about what Sinema will do with the filibuster — they have more important things on their mind, such as their jobs, health care, public safety, and so on. The only way to move forward to “durable results” on all these issues is to stop with tribalist maximalism and start working with opponents on collaborations in which both sides have an investment.

Sinema makes a compelling argument, but not to the progressives who clearly aren’t listening. She’s pitching this to her constituents in Arizona, whom Sinema notes have affection for “mavericks” from both sides of the aisle. The $1.4 million advertising attack on Sinema in Arizona might just as well be an in-kind contribution to Sinema’s re-election campaign.