What Sinema May Have Got Right

As I said before, Kyrsten Sinema’s switch from Democrat to Independent was a cynical move to protect herself, but that doesn’t mean there was no genius to learn from it. She can’t be primaries without a party and a Democratic candidate may hopelessly divide the electorate and insure even a weak Republican victory. It was a skilled power play that probably wins. If a half decent Republican enters, Democrats will have no choice but to acquiesce to the gun at their head. She’s a rotten SOB, but a damn smart one.

On a larger level, Sinema took advantage of a political reality that neither party can fully admit- nobody likes either of them. This is true nationally, but very much so in Arizona. The largest “party” in Arizona is independent, and that is growing through registration. Voters nationally tend to see both parties negatively, and that is true in Arizona too. Democrats tend to see recent wins for statewide offices there as a sign the state is moving there way, but it’s probably better to see it as the less partisan/ideological voters being less repulsed by semi-normal people than loving Democrats.

The two parties can’t speak truth to the folks giving consistent small dollar donations and volunteer hours, as the parties would cease to function, but “activists” in both parties (more so the GOP, to be clear, but both) are further and further detached from where most voters are politically (hence, Joe Biden is President), but activists make everything work inside the parties. Rather than confront their soldiers and pull them closer to the population, both parties would rather gamble on “the algorithm”- the bet that no matter how unhappy “normy” voters are with politics and government, they will typically come out and vote for the side that more closely fits to them, because functioning adults understand it’s important. As a result, you have a new Republican Congress that should be logically moving towards the middle, but instead is promising nonsense investigations into Hunter Biden, the border, and liberal parents pushing their kids to “go trans” (don’t even get me started on this bullshit) and a Democratic administration that basically messages everything towards the base groups that most loyally support them.

As I said, Sinema is sly like a fox. She is gambling that in one of the few states left that has swing voters, she can pick up a few political points by essentially shitting on how unsatisfying our political system is. I don’t think it’s certain, because people have had years to watch her evolution and absurd behavior, but this is her best chance to be right. When she wrote that most voters struggle to identify with our political parties, I think she’s right. I think that less politically active, “offline” voters who read her op-ed or watch her spend the next year campaigning on these messages, will probably be far less offended by this move than the rest of us. Will they get over her diva behavior and crappy inaction on things they voted for her to do? In a just world, no. I don’t think we live in that world though. Sinema may have just outfoxed all of Washington by coming outside “the house” and telling the town people that everything they think is going on inside is true. If so, you can curse her all you would like, but don’t ever doubt her political calculus again.

Nonsense and More Mavericky Nonsense

If you still put Joe Manchin in the same sentence as Kyrsten Sinema, stop. There is plenty to debate about him, and certainly votes to dislike from him, but he knows what he is and behaves like it- a conservative Democrat representing a ruby red state. He is authentically not in line with most of the Democratic Party, especially the online activist type. His “bad behavior” is simply more authentic and honorable than Sinema’s though, and it makes more political sense.

Arizona is not a “blue” state at this point, and it has a history of electing “maverick” Senators. It is a swing state though, and it just elected nearly all Democrats at the statewide level. Mark Kelly, the state’s junior Senator, is certainly a moderate in brand too, but his voting record and political affiliations make sense. Sinema on the other hand is all over the map, sometimes killing Democratic priorities from the left, other times from the right. She stakes out positions that make little sense on legislation, often times making passage hard or impossible. Sometimes she even contradicts her own votes from the past with nonsensical switches literally just for the sake of doing it.

My real problem with Sinema though is she has no political soul, no authenticity, and no values or identity. The former Green Party member lefty, who sold herself as a leftist progressive woman while ascending to state legislative leadership, then Congress, and now to the Senate, has gone out of her way to now rebrand herself as the Senate moderate. Out of principle? Yeah right, she still insisted on some of her former priorities, like fighting climate change. She doesn’t contradict herself to serve some bigger principle, like freedom of speech or individual liberty, but mostly just for attention and political positioning for her re-elections. Sinema must have determined in recent days that the likely primary challenge in 2024 from Congressman Ruben Gallego was highly likely to beat her, either because of a bad poll or former allies telling her they are out, and so today we got the nonsensical announcement from her that while she is still caucusing with the Democrats, she now identifies as an independent. It is a highly cynical move to avoid losing a primary, one that she believes boxes in Democratic opponents- if she runs as an independent, she will likely siphon off enough votes from the Democratic nominee to insure neither she or they can possibly win. She set up a suicide pact, and is essentially willing to hand the Senate to Republicans that literally hate who she actually is, all to try and desperately hang on to power.

I usually am fiercely defensive of moderates. I have my fair share of grievances with where far-left progressives want to take the party. It is imperative though that Democrats, moderates, and frankly any people with any values or decency in them reject this cynical act. Kyrsten Sinema has had her time, had her chance, and had her attention. It’s time to end the temper tantrum in 2024.