Kyrsten Sinema is playing chicken

By | December 9, 2022

Jonathan Chait writes:

The biggest loser of the 2022 election other than Donald Trump was Kyrsten Sinema. The Arizona senator and now-former Democrat desperately needed Democrats, especially fellow senator Mark Kelly, to lose. Only such a setback would make the party desperate enough to tolerate her continued presence. Kelly’s reelection made it certain that Sinema would face, and lose, a primary challenge in two years.

Sinema’s declaration of independence from the party is a ploy to avoid the primary and keep her job. Democrats could still run a candidate against her in the general election, of course, but they would face an extremely difficult prospect of winning. So her calculation in leaving the party is that she can bluff it into sitting out the campaign altogether, endorsing her as the lesser-evil choice against the Republican nominee.

It may work. If it doesn’t, it is because Sinema has underestimated just how much ill will she has generated across the breadth of the Democratic Party by reconceptualizing her role as the personal concierge of the superrich.

In an op-ed announcing her move, Sinema presents her defection from the party as a response to popular demand, lacing the prose with repeated references to “everyday Americans,” such as: “There’s a disconnect between what everyday Americans want and deserve from our politics, and what political parties are offering.”

That may be true, but the problem is that everyday Americans demonstrably do not want what Sinema is offering. The primary disconnect in American politics is that Democrats are to the left of the public on social issues, and Republicans to the right on economic issues. Both parties are pulled to these extremes by activists and donors. [Continue reading…]

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