Kirsten Cinema spoke in the Senate on Thursday to confirm your support for the continuation of the filibuster, the dashing hopes of the Democrats to abolish the requirement of 60 votes to pass the voting rights law.
The Democratic Senator from Arizona extolled a country of balanced people who want to listen to each other and find common values.
“We are facing serious problems, and their solution must begin with the willingness to be honest, listen to each other, reduce the political temperature and look for long-term solutions,” Cinema said.
And she praised the two-party political system, where a filibuster is a tool used to ensure that only the most popular laws are passed.
“What is a legislative filibuster but a tool that requires new federal policies to be widely supported by senators representing the broader strata of Americans, a fence that is inevitably seen as an obstacle to those who have a majority in the Senate, but which actually guarantees that millions of Americans, represented by a minority party, have a voice in this process?” Cinema asked.
These are all beautiful thoughts, but they are completely out of touch with our country and political system.
“Sep. Sinema’s defense of the violated status quo is fundamentally wrong, historically flawed, and completely ignorant of how the filibuster is currently being used and abused,” Fix Our Senate spokesman Eli Zupnik said in a statement.
First, many laws that are widely popular with Americans do not receive widespread support in Congress. Lawmakers have many incentives to block popular legislation, including calling for grassroots voters to get through the primaries or oppose the opposition party for political gain.
And legislation that manages to garner strong support in both the Senate and the public continues to often fails because of the need for 60 votes. Campaign finance reform, fair pay, a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, and gun control are all policies that fall under this category, doomed to piracy.
“Background checks are supported 90%+ Americansincluding the vast majority of Republicans,” said Igor Volsky, chief executive of Guns Down America. “However, members of the Republican Party in Congress continue to oppose the law, refusing to even discuss it.”
In 2013, a background check bill backed by Senators Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) failed due to a 60-vote requirement, though he was supported by a bipartisan majority of senators..
The filibuster is also not used in good faith. For decades, segregationists have used it to block civil rights protection for black Americans. Former President Barack Obama called it “Relic of Jim Crow“.
“History will remember Senator Blue unkindlyMartin Luther King III said. “While Senator Cinema remains stubborn in his “optimism”, black and brown Americans are losing the right to vote. She is on the side of the legacy of Bull Connor and George Wallace, not the legacy of my father and all those who fought to make our democracy a reality.”
According to the Brennan Center, so many closing movements over the last 10 years, as it was during the 60-year period from 1947 to 2006.
“The facts are that, throughout the history of our country, some of the most important civil rights laws have been passed with single-party support, including the 14th and 15th amendments,” End Citizens United spokesman Adam Bozzi said. “And the filibuster, which has been used too often to block civil rights, has been corrected again and again.”
Sinema also expressed admiration for the filibuster because it “ensures that millions of Americans, represented by a minority party, have a say in this process.” But under the current system, millions of Americans are not hearing—unless they are senators from Arizona and West Virginia, in which case they are heard without interruption.
In the Senate, all states are equal, regardless of population. The more populous states tend to be colored blue. Therefore, according to Vox, Democratic senators represent about 40.5 million people more than Republicans. The Senate leans heavily towards rural states, which tend to vote Republican, tend to be conservative, and are less diverse.
Bipartisanship in the Senate is also not necessarily a guarantee of broad support for diverse views. Centrist senators have huge influence in the Senate, and discussions around the infrastructure bill, for example, have been dominated by senators from very white states.
Cinema presented on Thursday an idealistic, rosy picture of what is needed to unify the country. She said the nation should “invest heavily in recruiting and supporting state and local candidates — from both parties — who represent the values enshrined in our Constitution” and work to “oppose and combat the spread of rampant disinformation.”
Sinema made these remarks from the Senate floor, where just a year ago, a mob of Donald Trump supporters attacked and took over the US Capitol in an undemocratic attempt to keep Trump in power.
Since then, Republicans have supported Trump and, on many occasions, have accepted his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Many candidates running for public office proudly support this fiction.
Sinema also said that getting rid of the filibuster to pass voting rights laws “won’t stop demagogues from winning elections.” Yet it was Trump, referred to by demagogue Cinema, and his campaign lies that inspired Republicans to pass the latest wave of voter suppression laws across the country. These laws would be repealed if the Democrats passed their voting rights bills.
She stated that if this demagogue gets his post again, then keeping the filibuster will be “the most important tool to prevent future threats.” But the filibuster did not play a big role during Trump’s first term. His major agenda items that failed in Congress, such as repealing the Affordable Care Act, did so because he failed to garner enough support among Republicans.
Instead, he implemented much of his agenda through executive actions such as banning Muslims and the policy of separating families at the border. These points were upheld by the party’s Supreme Court, made up of judges appointed by Republican presidents.
Sinema blamed the court’s partisan bias, which now threatens vital civil rights, including the right to abortion, for removing the filibuster of judicial candidates first by Democrats and then by Republicans. But she never mentioned that the tilt of the trial is the result of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)’s unprecedented decision to block a hearing, let alone a vote, on President Barack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nomination for Merrick Garland.
In Cinema’s speech, what worries this country was presented as a problem “on both sides” that can be simply solved by listening more and appreciating “the different views and common values of Americans.”
“We must fight the disease itself — the disease of division — in order to protect our democracy. … We must take a long-term approach, as serious as the problems we seek to solve, one that prioritizes listening and understanding,” she said.
While people may say they share vague values such as freedom, equality and progressreality looks very different these days. Conservatives are trying to erase references to racism from the history books. Teachers are forced to ignore inequality and, as a result, ways to solve these problems, creating the illusion that we are all on the same wavelength.
But bipartisanship is still ahead. Cinema said efforts to address national issues along party lines “will only succeed in exacerbating the root causes that gave way to these state laws in the first place by expanding our lineage into a more fractured America.”
In other words, blacks, browns, and other Americans who find it harder to vote will simply have to wait longer for a party loyal to Trump to emerge, because we certainly wouldn’t want to create a split.