Saturday, January 15, 2022

Destructive



It's only mid-January and we already have a finalist, by way of Arizona, for hypocrite of the year:

 

Ideally, this would be a bipartisan effort, but we can’t severely damage democracy to maintain a kind of “false peace.”

Kyrsten Sinema made a show of honoring the memory of John Lewis in this photo posted shortly after the congressman died. She now is actively trying to kill legislation- which she claims to support- by opposing all efforts to modify Senate rules to allow passage with 50/51 votes. One of the two bills, which have passed the House of Representatives, is literally called the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

The peace which Sinema superficially appears to be pursuing is a false one. In his commentary (video below). Lawrence O'Donnell noted

When Kyrsten Sinema ran for the United States Senate, she did not say that she would bring all of her legislative and policy goals in the United States Senate to the Republican leader of the Senate and try to get Republican approval of her agenda. That's not what she told Arizona voters but that is her position now. Republicans have to approve everything Kyrsten Sinema wants to do or she won't even try to do it.



Unless she is remarkably naive, Sinema is pursuing an unobtainable peace. When the Arizona Democrat met via Zoom with black civil rights leaders on Wednesday

She said she understood where they were coming from, and supports the voting rights bills, but believes that a filibuster carveout would be bad for the country, and that Republicans could well use it to hold a simple-majority vote to undo whatever voting legislation Democrats passed.

The sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and if Republicans retake the Senate in November, the filibuster will be dead as soon as Mitch McConnell takes the gavel as Speaker.  As Norman Ornstein notes

Some Democrats are reluctant to change the filibuster because they worry what Republicans would do under the new rules if they regained the majority. “We have more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster,” Sinema argued in her Post piece. Manchin, also writing in The Post, said: “If the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping, partisan legislation that changes the direction of our nation every time there is a change in political control. The consequences will be profound — our nation may never see stable governing again.”

The implication is that if Democrats grit their teeth and keep the filibuster as is, Republicans will exercise the same restraint when they recapture the majority. But recent history offers no evidence that the GOP would be constrained by tradition. During the Obama presidency, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), then chairman of the Judiciary Committee, insisted on keeping in place the “blue slip” tradition, which lets senators decide the fate of lower-court judges nominated from their states. But early in the Trump presidency, when a Democrat used the tradition to block a nominee from his state, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s new chairman, abandoned it.

Then there is the Supreme Court. McConnell quickly changed the filibuster rule to enable majority action on Trump’s Supreme Court nominees. Then, after refusing to hold a hearing on Barack Obama’s nominee 11 months before the 2016 presidential election, saying tradition demanded that the victor of the election choose a new justice, he abandoned that norm and held a vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett eight days before the 2020 election.

Sinema's argument: Republicans unfairly block voting rights legislation which would help the country and, by God, I will help them do it. Her motive may be one or many. Powerful interests, especially the pharmaceutical industry, which lavish campaign contributions can take of her if she leaves (voluntarily or involuntarily) the Senate. Speculation has arisen that she wants to run, whether as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, for President in 2024. And she clearly is someone who craves the spotlight.

Kyrsten Sinema may have to mount a candidacy for President in 2024 or beyond so that the effort becomes part of the first paragraph of her obituary. Otherwise, assuming she does not change course on voting rights, it will be dominated (as it should in either case) by the damage she has decided to bestow upon American democracy.   

 


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