Thinking Citizen Blog — Senator Kyrsten Sinema D-AZ: Key Swing Player — Who is She?
Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day
Today’s Topic: Senator Kyrsten Sinema (1976 — ), D-AZ,: Key Swing Player — Who is She?
Kyrsten Sinema is remarkable for at least three reasons. First, she metamorphosed from a Green Party radical to a a conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat. Second, she is the first openly bisexual member of Congress. Third, she has three advanced degrees: a masters in social work, a JD in law, and a PhD. She was valedictorian of her high school class at age 16 and graduated from Brigham Young University at age 18. She grew up in poverty — living for three years in an abandoned gas station. While she was once a Mormon, she is no longer. Her athletic prowess is legendary — being “the second active member of Congress — after Jeff Merkley — to complete a long distance triathlon, and the first to complete an ironman-branded race.” I knew nothing about her until this morning, but seeing her name in the headlines recently, I decided to do a little research and share some highlights. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
HOW CENTRIST IS KIRSTEN SINEMA?
- Supports abortion rights, gun control, and LBGTQ rights but opposed the $15 minimum wage in the Covid-19 relief bill and was one of four Democrats to vote against the Green New Deal.
- Although she once opposed the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, she has more recently opposed the Iran Nuclear Deal and Trump’s strike in Syria
- “According to FiveThrityEight as of April 2020, Sinema voted in line with Trump’s position on legislation about 53% of the time.”
NB: She voted to convict Donald Trump in both impeachment trials.
WHY SHE SUPPORTS MAINTAINING THE SENATE FILIBUSTER — in her own words
- “My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles.”
- “Instability, partisanship and tribalism continue to infect our politics. The solution, however, is not to continue weakening our democracy’s guardrails. If we eliminate the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, we will
lose much more than we gain.”
- “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.”
NB: “The best way to achieve durable, lasting results? Bipartisan cooperation.”
HOW POWERFUL IS SINEMA? WHAT WILL SHE DO WITH THAT POWER?
- “Now, for the first time in her career, she holds real power. The future of the party and the Senate just might hinge on what Kyrsten Sinema wants to do with it.” (third link)
- She opposes Biden’s $3.5 trillion bill because the price tag is too high, but she refuses to disclose what what number would be low enough to get her support.
- Any predictions?
FOOTNOTE — FROM BEAR TO BUDDHA (third link), WHAT IS A BLUE DOG ANYWAY?
- “The key to getting things done in politics, she decided, came down to an ethos she called “letting go of the bear and picking up the Buddha.” The “bear” in this case was the mentality too many progressive activists brought to politics — a sense of fear and anger toward people who didn’t agree with them, which led liberals to stick together in losing identity groups. The Buddha is the opposite of that — chill and open-minded. She called this new form of legislating “Enso politics,” after the Japanese word for circle. Enso “symbolized infinity, the perfect meditative state, and enlightenment.” The bear was the old Kyrsten; she had become the Buddha.”
- Blue Dogs: “The Blue Dog Coalition was formed in 1995 during the 104th Congress to give members from the Democratic conservative-leaning districts a unified voice after the Democrats’ loss in the 1994 Republican Revolution. The term “Blue Dog Democrat is credited to Texas Democratic representative Pete Geren (who later joined the Bush administration that the members had been “choked blue” by Democrats on the left. It is related to the political term “Yellow Dog Democrat” said to be “so loyal they would even vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican.” The term also refers to the “Blue Dog paintings of Cajun artist George Rodrigue of Lafayette, Louisiana as the original members of the coalition would regularly meet in the offices of Louisiana representatives Billy Tauzin and Jimmy Hayes both of whom later joined the Republican Party and both of whom had Rodrigues’ paintings on their walls. An additional explanation of the term cited by members is “when dogs are not let into the house they get cold and blue a reference to the blue dog belief that they had been left out of a party that they believed had shifted to the political left.”
- Blue Dog Ideology: “fiscal responsibility, a strong defense, and bipartisan consensus….the group has never taken a position on social issues as a caucus.”
NB: When I looked over the list of founders of the Blue Dog Coalition, I recognized not one name. See last two links for details.
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