Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) faced criticism Friday afternoon for the way in which she chose to vote against a provision to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour ― with an exaggerated thumbs-down hand gesture.
Seven Democratic senators and one independent ended up joining Republicans in voting down a motion to include the wage hike in the new round of coronavirus relief, saying it didn’t comply with rules on budget legislation.
Although hand gestures are commonplace on the Senate floor, particularly in the coronavirus era, Sinema’s casual body language was disappointing to some who saw the gesture as belittling the fight to end poverty wages.
Sinema’s office responded to a question about the gesture by making the absurd claim that the inquiry is sexist. “Commentary about a female senator’s body language, clothing, or physical demeanor does not belong in a serious media outlet,” Hannah Hurley, a spokesperson for Sinema, told HuffPost.
As is widely known now
If a male Senator had appeared in a flannel shirt- or even dressed without a tie- a whole lot of people would notice. Sinema's outfit wasn't appropriate to the occasion- but that's clothing and as long as she doesn't violate the dress code for members while on the floor, she is entitled to wear whatever she wants.
But physical demeanor and body language? That was the whole point of Sinema's ostentatious display. The Young Turk's Cenk Uygur believes (at 2:50 of the video below)
This is Sinema raising her hand going "I will do anything for corporate donors, anything at all, and I'll have fun doing it...
So that explains the mystery of why kick us when we're down because she's signaling to corporations "I'm the worst of the worst. So make sure you back me for my higher ambitions."
In the unlikely even Krysten Sinema has higher ambitions in the Democratic Party, she will be sorely disappointed. And even Donald Trump apparently has determined that the non-partisan, independent route is a dead end in American politics (unless running for the US Senate from New England). Further, corporate donors have no particular interest in whether an ally has fun. Instead, I'll go with Steve M when he explains
Much of America thinks Democrats are awful. The message is so pervasive that even politicians running as Democrats reinforce it. During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden couldn't stop telling us how many Republicans had endorsed him. Hillary Clinton did this too, as did Barack Obama to a lesser extent in 2008. The message was: I'm a Democrat, but I'm not one of the bad Democrats. See? Even Republicans like me! Which helps explain why down ballot Democrats didn't do as well as Biden. Republicans were trashing their party, and in a subtler way, so was the guy at the top of their own ticket.
Sinema and Manchin are bashing the party. They're saying, See? You can trust me. I'm a Democrat, but I hate Democrats, too. They vote like Democrats reasonably often, but when the spotlight is on them, they need to make a great show of contempt for their party.
As Uygur suggests, yet the Senator's spokesperson implicitly denies, it was a signal. However, it was not meant to be a show of being the worst of the worst but of being independent-minded and refusing to be one of the bad Democrats, who believe living on $14,500 a year as a full-time employee is suboptimal.