Sinema Touts Bipartisanship: Is It Really a Good Strategy for Democrats? (video)

United-solutions-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Bipartisanship is a popular buzz word in some political circles. Republicans use the call for “bipartisan solutions” to strong-arm Democrats into voting for bad ideas (like increased militarization and drone surveillance on the border in exchange for a long and complicated path to citizenship).

Democrats tout the quest for bipartisanship as code for “I’m a Democrat who votes with Republicans when it’s politically expedient.”

When the vast majority of American voters want higher taxes on the 1%, universal background checks, bans on assault weapons, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, good jobs, relief from crushing student and credit card debt, safe roads and bridges, regulatory controls on Wall Street, safe guards on Social Security, legalization of marijuana, and the right to vote, Congress devolves into inaction and gamesmanship.

When real action is needed, but no action is taken, the “bipartisan solutions” rallying cry is revealed as a sham. The threatened filibuster that stopped the universal background check bill is the quintessential example of something that 90% of Americans wanted, but 40 men stopped.

Is bipartisanship a good strategy or just a trap to get Democrats to “punt on the first down”? More details and the video after the jump.

In her speech to the State Committee of the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP), Freshman Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema strongly promoted bipartisanship and told precinct committee members and ADP officers about the caucus that she “organized”– the bipartisanUnited Solutions Caucus. (Arizona Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is also a member. Both are in the above photo of the caucus.)

The United Solutions Caucus is made up of Democrats and Republicans who “meet weekly to find shared solutions to our nation’s problems,” Sinema told the Arizona Democrats. Caucus members “put partisanship aside and solve problems.”

If you watch the votes that Sinema, Kirkpatrick, and fellow Congressman Ron Barber make, “bipartisan” means often voting with the Republicans. Last week all three voted to give the Pentagon $640 billion dollars more than the military asked for. All three of them voted against the Back to Work Budget. Is that fiscally responsible in tight budget times? No! In committee,Sinema voted to relax regulatory controls on Wall Street and allow some types of Wall Street trades to be exempt from regulation. Kirkpatrick and Barber are among the Democrats most like to vote Republican.

Perhaps, Sinema, Kirkpatrick, and Barber are fence-sitters because they won their Congressional races with the lowest percentages in Arizona– 48.7%, 48.8%, and 50.4%, respectively. The conventional wisdom is that since these three are in swing districts they have to act like Republicans (at least some of the time) to win re-election. Unfortunately, when Democratic candidates vote like Republicans, they lose support from the Democratic donors and the foot soldiers who helped them win the offices in the first place. When the choice is Republican vs an uninspiring and not-to-be-counted-on Republican-lite “Democrat”, the voter response is: “Phhht…Who cares?” In 2010, when Republicans took over the House of Representatives in the Tea Party revolt, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was one of the few Blue Dog Democrats to win re-election. (It was a squeaker, and some of the credit for Giffords' win goes to the spoiler Libertarian candidate.)

Important votes are coming up on cuts to food stamps, on increases in the interest rates on student loans, and on immigration reform, will these three stand as strong Democrats on these issues? All we can do is hope.


P.S. In the above video Sinema clearly states that she organized the United Solutions Caucus. A bit of stretch? The United Solutions Flickr site and web site both say this about the group’s founder:

The United Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group of freshman Congressman Patrick E. Murphy organized with co-chair Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-OH) who are dedicated to finding common ground and addressing the nation’s fiscal issues with bipartisan, long-term solutions. [Oops.]

0 responses to “Sinema Touts Bipartisanship: Is It Really a Good Strategy for Democrats? (video)

  1. I can wear two hats (more than two, but that’s a different story)
    I can work, fight, rally for progressives and progressive issues but when push come to shove I’ll do the same for the Democrat in the race, Blue Dog or whatever.
    After that, I switch hats again to hold their feet to the fire. What’s so complicated?

  2. Now you’re just counter-punching, Brian. Your question goes nowhere for two reasons. First, the notion you are suggesting — that Arizona swing districts are somehow different from swing districts in other states such that a Democrat has to act out of fear in order to defend one — is absurd. Second, we have a really short history of swing districts in Arizona. The only Dems to defend them have been Blue Dog types, and they got creamed in the last conservative wave, 2010. If Dems are going to lose seats in conservative wave elections anyhow, what’s the point in casting cowardly votes? Do you really think Mitchell and Kirkpatrick would have done worse than they did in 2010 had they voted more progressively?

  3. I agree with Bob. People respect politicians who are principled. Steve Kozachik and Richard Carmona are two good examples of principled politicians who made statements and decisions in a forthright manner and didn’t wait for the polls or the DNC to tell them what to do. Carmona’s rapid responses to controversial issues were commendable. Yes, he didn’t win, but he gave Flake (a total poser, GOP lap dog, and early heir apparent to Kyl’s seat) a run for his money.

  4. Brian Clymer

    Got any Arizona examples, Bob?

  5. Brian Clymer

    I don’t think Sinema & Kirkpatrick are evil, and the world isn’t black or white. Let’s deal in reality.

  6. How about Ann Kirkpartrick and Kyrsten Sinema adopt a few Libertarian positions and earn away a couple of percent from libertarian leaning voters in 2014.

    Nah, that is crazy talk. They would probably prefer to lose the election rather that let someone label them as libertarian leaning.

    Forget I ever mentioned this.


    Kudos to you, Bob Lord. There is nothing more disgusting to me than an unprincipaled self serving politician. Brian, when you vote for the lessor of two evils you vote for evil. She can be salvaged but if she keeps this shit up she and Kirkpatrick are toast. Who needs them?

  8. Brian, Russ Feingold won 3 terms in Wisconsin, a swing state. George McGovern served three terms from South Dakota. Sherrod Brown just was re-elected in Ohio. They were able to do this because they stood for something, and the voters respected them for it.

    And very conservative Republicans win and hold seats in so-called swing districts, and swing states. Rick Santorum was re-elected in Pennsylvania.

    Seats change hands in wave elections, which we’ve had a lot of lately. But it doesn’t matter how you’ve voted, you can lose your seat in a wave. Indeed, in 2010, it was the Blue Dogs, not the Progressives, who took it in the teeth.

    We don’t help ourselves when we allow the fear of losing an election to motivate our positions and our votes.

  9. Brian Clymer

    Unless you can give examples of very liberal & partisan Democrats who won election & were then re-elected in subsequent elections in swing districts like Kirkpatrick’s, Barber’s & Sinema’s, then I think your argument is based on your own wishful thinking. Let’s get real. I’d take those 3 Democrats over any Republican any day.