Last week was another where it is difficult to pick the biggest American political story of the week; on the surface that is. In reality the fact that one political party with two allies from the other side decided that American democracy wasn’t important is difficult to top. All 50 Republican senators with the addition of Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona refused to amend the filibuster rule to enable voting rights – the cornerstone of democracy – to get an up or down vote.
The measure to amend the filibuster/cloture rule for this single item failed 52-48. The Republicans has previously filibustered the legislation preventing debate. A rule change is not subject to the filibuster and a 50-50 tie would have been broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, who was presiding in her role as President of the Senate, in favor of passage. Almost all Democrats, certainly the vast majority of progressives, are blaming Manchin and Sinema. What about the solid Republican caucus?
Here are the 50 Republicans who favored Party over country and democracy: John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley of Missouri, John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Mike Braun and Todd Young of Indiana, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven of North Dakota, Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho, Steve Daines of Montana, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Jim Inhofe and James Lankford of Oklahoma, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee and Mitt Romney of Utah, Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran of Kansas, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mike Rounds and John Thune of South Dakota, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama along with Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
PLEASE NOTE: as of this writing Crapo of Idaho, Grassley of Iowa, Hoeven of North Dakota, Johnson of Wisconsin, Kennedy of Louisiana, Lankford of Oklahoma, Lee of Utah, Moran of Kansas, Murkowski of Alaska, Paul of Kentucky, Rubio of Florida, Scott of South Carolina, Thune of South Dakota and Young of Indiana are all running for reelection in 2022. In November they will be asking for your vote; the vote they are trying to deny you in January. Don’t be a fool.
Politically I simply can’t understand Sinema’s vote. I know her arguments to preserve the filibuster. However, we simply have to look at the current circumstances. Not only is the right to vote under attack (read: being suppressed and intimidated) it is in danger of being nullified by partisans. Without free and fair elections America is no longer a republic (read: representative democracy). Arizona is purple, she has angered much of her base as well as several large donors. I just don’t see her political upside and as previously stated her “principled stand” is fatally flawed. In fact, in Sinema’s case I think not defending democracy will cost her her seat. I expect her to be seriously challenged in a Democratic primary and lose assuming she is still a Democrat in 2024.
I think Manchin is playing both sides in an effort to insure he keeps his committee chairmanship. If the control of the Senate switches parties, so will he. The big money comes from his committee chairmanship and furthermore Republican donors have already been flocking to him.
Sinema may also be contemplating a party switch if the control flips. I, along with most political junkies simply cannot get inside her head. I didn’t do a lot of research, simply relying on memory. I can think of three fairly recent Senators switching parties while in office: Ben Knighthorse Campbell, Jim Jeffords and Arlen Specter. Only Campbell won his reelection bid. Small sample size but not great outcomes. To win at that level you needed the support of a lot of your party’s core people. If you leave them, they tend to remember and work against you in the future.
Voting rights protections are very popular with the people. It is doubtful that any incumbent Senator would lose their seat by voting for them. I consider myself to be a practical progressive. Some things I want are not achievable, at least in the immediate future. However, there is a point where principle trumps politics and the preservation of democracy is one of them. If you are going to lose your seat isn’t defending American democracy a worthy reason? (Keep in mind I don’t see voting to defend voting rights as a losing issue in the first place!) If there is a hereafter and any of the 52 make it there, I wonder how they will defend their lack of courage to American veterans who gave their lives defending American democracy?
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