It's leaders of every faith vs. Sinema and Manchin over the filibuster

It's leaders of every faith vs. Sinema and Manchin over the filibuster
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

A coalition of faith leaders came together in Washington, D.C., both in person and virtually Monday to rally the Democratic Senate into doing everything in its power to pass ambitious legislation to restore voting rights, combat gun violence, and help America's communities. By "everything in its power" they mean get rid of the filibuster. "Don't filibuster democracy," the group chanted from the steps of the National City Christian Church.

"Today we come because we as clergy—pastors, imams, rabbis, people from the Hindu community and the Muslim community—are challenging the immorality of the filibuster," said the Rev. William Barber, who led the group. "We can no longer have an impoverished democracy because a minority group of senators want to shut down open debate and shut down bringing issues to the floor, address the critical issues that face us as a people in this nation." Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches, spoke about how the filibuster has been "long used by avowed racists" who repeatedly use it as a "weapon to kill any progress to secure voting rights and civil rights." The filibuster, he said, "must never again be used as a threat in order to kill legislation. […] It is a cowardly tactic designed to forestall progress for the good of the nation."

"I see my voice on these matter(s) as part of my Christian commitment to love as Jesus loves and to love my neighbor as myself," the Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, said in a email to the Associated Press. The filibuster "is a tool of obstruction, usually against passage of laws that protect and care for the marginalized," Owens wrote. "Given its unjust usage, we must find another way to ensure that voices are heard, and that one cannot stand in the way of a bill simply because you disagree."

Barber was a little more pointed: "We can't have a small minority of people using the filibuster so that we don't deal with voting rights, we don't deal with living wage, we don"t deal with health care." He didn't need to say that that message was meant for Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Not after Sinema's obnoxious display on the Senate floor during the American Rescue Plan debate, when she showboated for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with her vote against the minimum wage.

While Manchin has stepped back a bit from his hard-line stance, flirting with at least the idea of restoring a talking filibuster, Sinema is going all in on ... backing the white supremacist Republicans? That's what is seems like. She doubled down on that with the Wall Street Journal (because of course it had to be the WSJ) in an interview this week.

"When you have a place that's broken and not working, and many would say that's the Senate today, I don't think the solution is to erode the rules," she told the WSJ. "I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do." Never mind that what's breaking the Senate is the filibuster and the bad behavior of the Republicans she's flirting with, who would happily laugh in her face over her wannabe Emily Post routine.

And good luck selling that in Arizona, senator. Civiqs' polling tells the story. "She went from 41% favorable, 35% unfavorable at the start of February, to 29% favorable, 40% unfavorable—a dramatic overnight 17-point net drop," with all Arizonans, Markos wrote about that polling. "As you might imagine, her numbers among Democrats have dropped precipitously" to a "+23 net favorability rating, down from +53." She's also underwater with independents "going from a +6 net favorable rating, to -20 today." Is her act working with Republicans? Of course not. "They never liked her and still don't, she's gone from 16% favorable, 57% unfavorable, to 15-53 today."

It's not just Civiqs. New polling of likely voters by Data for Progress, reported in an op-ed in the Arizona Capitol Times, finds that 62% support that minimum wage increase to $15/hour that she opposed. Additionally, "61% think that passing major legislation is more important than the filibuster." Abigail Jackson, the communications coordinator for Progress Arizona, points out that while "Democrats make up only 32% of registered voters, these numbers are significant, demonstrating that progressive policies are actually popular in Arizona, and the filibuster less so."

There's also this one from a few weeks ago:

"The survey found that Sinema is viewed favorably by just 50 percent of Democratic voters, but 30 percent of her party views her unfavorably. Sinema is upside down with Republicans by 22%."

Sinema's choices are perplexing, unless she's is trying to tell us she's going to switch parties. It kind of looked like that when she went on Twitter and "liked" a tweet from CNN for this story: "Why very early signs are good for the GOP in 2022." Then she had this snotty response when asked about it.

Sinema is going out of her way to make enemies among Democrats, and isn't at all clear what her thinking is, other than maybe she likes getting all this attention. Because she sure as hell is setting herself up for a primary challenge—and she's also not going to find a receptive audience among Republicans. Sure, McConnell might be encouraging her defections now, but he's not going to be there for her in 2024, because he knows she could never win as a Republican.

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