U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is under fire after delivering a lengthy speech on the floor of the Senate declaring her intractable refusal to even consider any carve out of the Jim Crow era 60-vote majority filibuster threshold in order to pass voting rights legislation. Democrats across the board are expressing their outrage – not only for her words but for her timing. Sinema opted to deliver her speech as President Joe Biden came to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Democrats, hoping to get their support on a way to pass voting rights legislation.
“We must address the disease itself, the disease of division to protect our democracy,” Sinema told the mostly-Republican audience. “It cannot be achieved by one party alone.”
“We need robust, sustained strategies that put aside party labels and focus on our democracy because these challenges are bigger than party affiliation. We must commit to a long term approach as serious as the problems we seek to solve. One that prioritizes listening and understanding one that embraces making progress on shared priorities and finding common ground on issues where we hold differing and diverse views.”
The two voting rights bills – which Sinema claimed to support – have the support of the majority of Americans. Her call for “finding common ground” that she claims is necessary ignores the very will of the people she was elected to serve. Instead, she is seeking the approval of just Republican Party lawmakers.
Democrats of all stripes, from political experts to casual social media commentators blasted her.
“I say this as her former friend and the person who first gave her national television exposure on @msnbc,” wrote Keith Olbermann. “@SenatorSinema needs to resign or be removed from office immediately. Rather than decreasing ‘division’ in this country her action guarantees it.”
The Atlantic’s Molly Jong-Fast suggested Sen. Sinema was putting on a show. “Why is Kyrsten Sinema fake cry talking?” she asked.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’DSonnell echoed that thought:
Sinema delivers the Senate’s stupidest speech by a Democrat in an edge of tears voice to give childish words a melodramatic effect.
— Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) January 13, 2022
Jamelle Bouie, the noted New York Times opinion columnist and CBS News analyst wrote, “if you take it seriously — and, to be clear, i do not — sinema’s position is akin to being against politics themselves.”
Voting rights expert Ari Berman:
Sinema & Manchin represent 2.8% of US population but allowing 41 GOP senators representing just 21% of country to block voting rights bills supported by 70% of Americans that would protect voting access for tens of millions. US political system completely broken
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) January 13, 2022
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent:
In which @SenatorSinema reveals herself to be one of the best friends that the forces of partisanship and division have in the US Senate — Republican partisanship and division. Thanks to Sinema and Manchin, divisive GOP limits on voting proceed unchecked — on a partisan basis. https://t.co/MH7aZpku44
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) January 13, 2022
David Rothkopf, the professor of international relations, political scientist, Daily Beast contributing columnist, and CEO of the Rothkopf Group was unflinching in his criticism.
“Don’t be tempted into the sports TV-type debates that ask ‘Who is worse Sinema or Manchin?’” he tweeted. “They’re both despicable & are essentially throwing democracy & their party under the bus to serve the special interests to whom they are beholden. (And yes, the entire GOP is even worse.)”
“Translation for those who don’t speak Beltway,” Rothkopf added. “Sinema saying she supports voting rights legislation but does not support the filibuster changes needed to pass it means…she opposes voting rights legislation (and lacks the character to own her position).”
Attorney, political commentator, and former Souith Carolina state lawmaker Bakari Sellers mocked Sinema.
.@SenatorSinema: “y’all little voting rights is cool, but the racist relic of the past is my jam! Go filibuster, go little rockstar.” (Basically)
— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) January 13, 2022
Malcolm Nance, the intelligence, terrorism, and extremism expert said Senator Sinema “just put a knife in the heart of Democracy. My heart breaks how easily she was bought to support the Republican coup.”
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