Sinema, an Arizona Democrat with an incomprehensible political compass, has been an obstructionist nightmare this year, giving Democrat-When-Convenient Sen. Joe Manchin a run for his money. The two have been in lockstep with their opposition to ending the filibuster, and Sinema spent most of her interview defending her pro-filibuster stance.
But not before schmoozing over her special friendship with McCain first.
“Meghan and I have a lot in common,” Sinema said. “We’re both from Arizona, we love cacti... I think we’re both tough as nails, and we’re both fiercely independent.”
There was even mention of the two having late-night conversations when McCain was having trouble sleeping during her pregnancy.
“I think you’re a perfect person to represent Arizona,” McCain said, going so far as to call Sinema a “maverick”—a title often associated with her father, late Arizona Senator John McCain.
“I think my favorite thing is that... [Arizonans] just believe what we believe, unabashedly and unafraid,” Sinema said, becoming audibly tearful. “Even if we have to stand alone, we don’t really mind what other people think and what other people are doing.”
Well, maybe Sinema should consider giving a fuck. Because for all of her cheery sentiments about the anticipated passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the power of bipartisanship, she is complicit in stalling serious progress for millions of Americans. Enter: the filibuster. Its 60-vote threshold has made even Democrats’ most modest proposals impossible to come to pass despite their razor-thin majority in the Senate.
“I hear you about independent thinking, that’s one thing,” said View co-host, Sunny Hostin. “But ignoring history is another. The filibuster has a deep racial history, and it’s really the favorite tool... by racists for quite some time. It was used to stall the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and in the 1930s, Democrats actually used it to kill anti-lynching legislation, which we still have trouble passing today. And it’s being used by the Republican Party today to suppress the voting rights of Black people.”
She continued: “So my question to you, in opposing the filibuster, you said you support voting rights... you’re behind voting rights, so what would you say to those, like me, who argue that protecting voting rights in this country is much more important than protecting a filibuster that’s a relic of the Jim Crow era?”
Sinema came prepared, condescension included.
“The first thing I want to point out is that the filibuster itself is a tool,” Sinema said. “And like any tool, it has neither a positive nor a negative value on its own. It’s how we utilize it that gives it power.”
She pointed out that Democrats have used the filibuster to stop Republican legislation, and Republicans have used it to oppose Democrats.
“People tend to not like the filibuster when they’re the ones who want to pass the legislation,” she said. “But we’re in the minority—we being Republicans or Democrats—we use the filibuster a lot to force dialogue, to bring people together, and to make changes.”
Sinema continued to make her case for the filibuster, saying that its removal would lead to a “wild ricochet of movement back and forth between policies” which is “bad for our country... our constituents... [and] our economy.”
“I would want to make sure that we retain that tool so, in the future, if there were an attempt to get rid of the things that were very important to me personally, like women’s health care decisions, or protections for the LGBTQ community, or protections for clean water and clean air... I would want to make sure we had that tool available to protect those things that are important to me and my constituents.”
Joy Behar jumped in, saying that while she understands Sinema’s argument, the filibuster’s obstruction in maintaining basic rights for marginalized people is more than a partisan scuffle.
“I think that voting rights are too crucial to just say, well, we need to keep it for when we need,” Behar said. “It seems like it’s an emergency right now that we get rid of the filibuster, even though we might pay down the road. but if we don’t have voting rights, what have we got? Nothing!”
“If you eliminate the filibuster to pass that piece of legislation, then in four years or anytime when the other party gains control, without the filibuster in place, all of those voting rights protections could be easily be wiped out with a simple majority vote,” Sinema said.
But Republicans have long realized that making it harder to vote helps keep them in power. The existence of the filibuster is currently making it difficult to pass voting rights legislation like H.R. 1. So how can Sinema or anyone else have a serious conversation about entirely hypothetical consequences of eliminating the filibuster in the future, when the filibuster is being used to obstruct voting rights in the present?
“If you remove this tool, this protection for the minority, what happens when you’re the minority and that tool is no longer there to protect your rights” Sinema asked. Maybe she should ask the actual so-called minorities of the United States how it feels not to be protected.
Somehow, this predictable Sinema discussion was the most exciting part of McCain’s last day on the air.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified co-host Sunny Hostin. Jezebel regrets the error.