Progressives Are Livid at Kyrsten Sinema Because She Understands Long-Term Consequences

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has made the more progressive members of her party really mad with an op-ed published by the Washington Post on Monday night.

Sinema’s op-ed argues that the need for the filibuster is greater than the need for the For The People Act (otherwise known as H.R. 1) and that sacrificing the former for the latter will be more harmful to democracy than H.R. 1 ever could help. What makes most of the progressives so furious is that she is absolutely correct.

For Democrats like Sinema, Joe Manchin, and others, getting rid of the filibuster is a sure-fire way to lose key battles down the line. In fact, Sinema outright says this in her column.

The problem with eliminating the filibuster is the same as the problem with using the nuclear option for judicial appointments, something that Democrats did when Harry Reid was the leader in the Senate. When you change the rules so that your party can pick up wins, you are changing the rules so that the other party can pick up wins when they take control. There is no permanent political majority in politics, and there never will be, so by changing the rules you are making it easier for your opponents to take advantage of those rules changes down the line.

As a progressive Democrat, Sinema understands this. She isn’t making some appeal to Republicans and signal she’s on their side. She’s telling her own party they are going to regret this in the long run if they try to go through with it for a short-term victory. And she is one hundred percent correct.

The problem for the Democrats right now is that it’s not just Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who stand opposed to this. There are several Democrats privately concerned about what this could mean for the Senate should it ever fall into Republican control again.

The best rule of thumb is this: If you don’t want your opponents to have the power to do something, don’t give yourself the power to do it. In setting that precedent, you are opening yourself up to even more problems in the long term than you solved in the short term, and it’s the long-term battles politicians often fail to consider.

And that’s where I think the Democrats are going to come up short in 2022 and possibly in 2024. Their advantage in the House and Senate is slim and they cannot afford to lose more seats in either. Rather than try to keep the moderate voters – the ones who put them back into power – happy, they are going to go out and appeal to the loudest voices in their base. These are the voices that do not represent anywhere close to the majority of American voters. In fact, most American voters tend to poll in opposition to what the loudest voices are crying out for.

But the Democratic Party as a whole somehow thinks that by appealing to those voices rather than the greater masses, they will win future elections. They have not learned the lessons of the Obama years. From 2008-2016, the Democrats lost so many seats at the state and federal levels. They started out with a majority and figured that if they pushed through what they thought was best rather than what people wanted the people would appreciate their agenda.

The people did not.

So the Democrats are going to try that again. And it will blow up in their faces once more.