Allen Hates Politics, Part 4

I hate Kyrsten Sinema.

Current national politics is a lit, crazy movie. It’s got everything you want: a (somewhat) lovable cast, a good premise and an incredible setting. As the plot continues to thicken, let’s try to make sense of it all through the study of one especially popular character, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

There’s two kinds of people with regards to Sinema. You either really hate her because she’s a Democrat. Or you really hate her because she’s a “Democrat.” Along with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the two centrist senators have been opposing Democrat actions one after another.

In an evenly divided 50-50 Senate with only Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker, Democrats can no longer afford to have defectors within the party on any important votes. No Republicans are going to flip, so the party would need absolute unity to best the Republican 50.  But despite President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s best efforts, Sinema is willing and ready to jump ship from the Democrat project at every turn.

Filibuster, infrastructure, stimulus, minimum wage increase, voting rights, anything Biden wants to pass, Sinema has made it difficult. But at least, during the process, she is absolutely chasing that bag and getting rich. To quote “Let it Shine” star Coco Jones, “Yes, I did that and you would do it, too, for a check.” I mean, $100,000 in donations from pharmaceutical companies? Talk about a check.

Her home state of Arizona is not having any of it. Nearly 50 people have been arrested in the series of protests outside her Phoenix office following her decision to not increase the minimum wage. And recently, the Arizona Democratic Party has threatened to hold a “no confidence” vote if Sinema keeps refusing to vote with the rest of the Democrats.

It feels even worse on Sinema’s Twitter, where every post has more replies criticizing her than likes. And every journalist in each major publication has something new to say about Sinema every day. The ubiquitous hate for Sinema on the internet rivals even the likes of James Corden and Amy Schumer. 

So get your tickets, get your popcorn and grab some front-row seats for the Sinema cinema. With all these tensions rising up, I promise it’ll be good.

FADE IN:

ALLEN’S LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

ALLEN gets up from his rocking chair. He looks at the camera surprised and drops his ice cream cone.

ALLEN

Oh, you’re here. 

ALLEN kicks away the dropped ice cream cone.

Well, we can talk about politics now.

ALLEN lights the fireplace. 

A quick breakdown of what’s going on first. Right now, there are two big bills in Congress, both part of Biden’s two-track plan to pass major spending on infrastructure. 

ALLEN turns on the projector and whips out a baton.

One of them is the American Jobs Plan, a $1 trillion bill to improve bridges, roads, power grids and the usual things that come to mind with the word “infrastructure.” This bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support and is now on the House floor. 

The other, more controversial bill is the Build Back Better Act, a $3.5 trillion bill that aims to enhance so-called “soft infrastructure” like expanded Medicare, universal pre-K and paid family leave to name a few. This bill passed the House in a slim majority and is now on the Senate floor.

Cuts to camera 2. ALLEN turns to camera 2.

The American Jobs Plan only needs to pass the House and a lot of Democrats want to vote on it now. The Democrats would have the votes they needed, if they were unified. But a coalition of nearly 100 House Democrats in the Progressive Caucus refused to vote on the American Jobs Plan without the Build Back Better Act passing the Senate first. 

What the Progressive Caucus really wants isn’t the American Jobs Plan, but instead the Build Back Better Act, the much more comprehensive and ambitious spending bill. And they’re afraid that if they pass the American Jobs Plan while negotiations for the Build Back Better Act are still ongoing, moderate Democrats will abandon it and cash out their winnings.

CHA-CHING SOUND EFFECT

So far, the Progressive Caucus, with Biden’s blessings, have effectively been able to stall a vote on the American Jobs Plan to force negotiations on the Build Back Better Act. But moderate Democrats view this as a blunder. They want to get the easy win on the American Jobs Plan and then negotiate on the Build Back Better Act. Yet, it seems without the leverage that the Progressive Caucus have with threatening the American Jobs Plan, moderate Senate Democrats have no loyalty to the Build Back Better Act and could easily sink it.

Cuts to camera 3. ALLEN turns to camera 3.

Alright, it’s a mess. But stay with me.

ALLEN turns away from the camera and walks out of the frame. 

DISSOLVE IN:

SENATE FLOOR – DAY

ALLEN sits down in a random seat in the chamber.

ALLEN

The Build Back Better Act is being passed through a process called budget reconciliation, which is really complicated but what’s important about it is that Biden only needs a simple majority to pass the bill. This means if all 50 Democrats vote on it to reach a tie that is broken by Vice President Harris, Build Back Better is won.

This is where Kyrsten Sinema enters the scene. 

KYRSTEN SINEMA enters the scene. 

Her and bestie Joe Manchin are essentially the only two Democrats not convinced on the Build Back Better Act, citing reasons like… 

KYRSTEN SINEMA

It’s too expensive.

ALLEN

But Democrats need their votes. Desperately. 

So it was a bit of a problem that in the middle of negotiations over the bill, Sinema flew back to Phoenix for a “doctor’s visit,” a nice euphemism for “chasing that bag,” as she also had a planned fundraiser coincidentally after the doctor’s visit. Oh, and that fundraiser is also hosting a variety of political action committees (PACs) that vehemently oppose the Build Back Better Act.

AIRPLANE SOUNDS

Fundraising isn’t unusual among politicians of Sinema’s caliber. But fundraising now, in the wake of intense negotiations over one of the Democrat’s biggest projects headed into the 2022 midterms is a huge plot twist in this already spiraling situation. The thought on every Democrat’s mind right now is, 

EVERY DEMOCRAT

What could Sinema possibly be thinking with this?

ALLEN

And the answer is, nobody can really tell. I could try to say that Sinema is just the Mr. Krabs of Congress, but I feel like I’m missing part of the puzzle. After all, constantly derailing the Democrat project doesn’t bode well with left-wing donors, a large part of any Democrats’ campaign fund. So what’s with Sinema?

One member of her circle told the New York Times

MEMBER OF CIRCLE

People who want to think they can understand her or get to her, let me tell you, you can’t. It doesn’t work that way with her. She doesn’t think in a linear process, like ‘OK, will this impact my re-election?’ She just beats her own drum. When she leaves in the middle of something and says, ‘I got stuff to do,’ it’s because she has plans. Sometimes, she’s just more interested in training for an Ironman. More power to her, man. It’s like watching a movie.

ALLEN

And decoding the enigma of Senator Kyrsten Sinema just gets more confusing when you look at her past. She began as a left-wing social worker protesting against Joe Lieberman and the Iraq War. Then, she ran for the Arizona House of Representatives with the Green Party in 2002 and lost and then again in 2004 with the Democratic Party to win a seat. 

She would serve eight years in the Arizona legislature as a controversial left-wing figure before moving up to the U.S. House of Representatives for six years in 2012. In the House, she vowed to become the next John McCain, a maverick who would stand up to their party. 

This didn’t actually happen, according to Harry Enten. John McCain sided with his party 90% of the time and Sinema… hasn’t. Instead Sinema would go on to annoy Democrats for years to come, defecting from the party seemingly whenever viable. In 2019, she was sworn in to the Senate and here we are now.

FADE OUT

DISSOLVE IN:

IN CAFÉ:

ALLEN is typing on his computer. He turns to the camera.

The character development for Sinema is just astonishing. People are constantly quoting her old tweets to prove her own hypocrisy, as many of her old Bernie-esque tweets sharply contrast her current obstructionist moves. 

So to answer the question of why, I’ll take a page out of Michelle Goldberg’s recent column, who says that much of Sinema’s philosophy is revealed in her 2009 book, “Unite and Conquer: How to Build Coalitions That Win — and Last.” Sinema, as described in her book, was tired of not being able to do anything as a part of the minority progressive caucus in the Arizona state legislature. Her solution was to be agreeable, bipartisan and relaxed. 

Goldberg says that, 

MICHELLE GOLDBERG

“‘Unite and Conquer’ was about operating in the minority, not exercising power. Now that she’s part of a governing majority, Sinema is, ironically, recapitulating some of the pathologies she boasted about transcending. Rather than being part of a productive coalition, she’s once again operating as a defiantly contrary outsider. The bipartisanship that was once a source of liberation for her seems to have become a rigid identity.”

ALLEN

Nevertheless, all this resentment — the protests, the Twitter, the hypocrisy and the unclear stances — has reached its climax in this exact moment. Infrastructure will be try or die for Sinema in terms of political philosophy. So will she risk standing against her party, even on these two relatively popular bills? Or will she abandon her long held political commitments in order to align with the party and help Democrats get the boost they need for the 2022 midterms? 

The answer seems clear enough to me. But knowing Sinema, she’s bound to just say no and join her donor’s winery as an intern. Truly, Sinema is the top “Democrat.”

FADE OUT

In conclusion, I hate politics.