The response to my Open Letter to Kyrsten Sinema last weekend was stunning, so a quick follow-up is in order.
Out of the thousands of posts that have appeared on this site, the open letter generated more page views than all but 5 others, along with a boatload of comments.
Readers no longer are split on the issue of bad votes cast by Democrats. The apologists who explain how Democrats who represent swing districts have to cast bad votes were mute on this one. Or, better yet, perhaps they’ve changed their view.
Because I wanted to keep the letter short enough to avoid a page break, a few important points that were omitted bear mention. First, one commenter with the screen name Jason Odhner made this point I intended to make:
The hateful rhetoric of ignorant racists can be forgiven, albeit with difficulty, by remembering that it is, in fact a lack of education and understanding that drives their decisions. But Kyrsten Sinema is *not* ignorant. To the contrast, she has a nuanced and highly informed understanding of all the reasons that what she did was wrong and hateful. The PHD in Social Work, the former leadership position with local non-profit Community Outreach and Advocacy for Refugees (COAR), and a dozen other life experiences prove that her vote wasn’t ignorant – it was calculated, opportunistic, and cold blooded. And that, I’m afraid, is truly unforgivable.
Second, besides the personal affront to Syrian Americans, these compromise votes by Democrats concerned only about their re-election or, in Kyrsten’s case, perhaps election to the next office, contribute enormously to the atmosphere of fear and hatred currently engulfing our country. In that regard, consider the words of Andrew O’Hehir of Salon, in Reasons to give thanks: America is a total mess — and some of it is good news:
When Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and the other raving lunatics and epic hypocrites in the Republican Party – to call those people “clowns,” one of the clichés of this cycle, is an insult to an ancient and honorable art — announce that our God-given greatness and divine destiny have been tarnished by sinister forces, but can be restored through further enriching the rich, widening the scope of endless war and victimizing the weakest among us, Democrats offer no clear and consistent answer. The best they can do, generally speaking, is to mumble that yes, we do have a God-given destiny of some kind, if we can only figure out what it is. It might turn out not to be about blowing up villages on the other side of the world and being incredibly mean to poor people and reverting to feudal oligarchy! Or at least not about doing those things quite so enthusiastically. Why is anyone surprised that in the popular imagination Democrats are perceived as spineless? The problem is not their policies, which are reasonably coherent if often disappointing; it’s their strategy of responding to religious hysteria and mass delusion by agreeing with it a little. In Salem Village, they’d have been the people arguing that we must be judicious in determining which of these girls really had sexual congress with the Horned One. (emphasis mine)
O’Hehir’s analogy is brilliant. Does anyone doubt that if Kyrsten and her ilk were amongst the political leadership of Salem circa 1692, they’d have been cynically calculating how far right their positions need be in order to avoid losing support of the witch burners?