Newly minted Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is taking heat from both sides of the aisle already. Republicans look to her activist past and call her a radical leftist. Yet to the most progressive of her base, attempts to present herself as a moderate bring only disappointment. As for what the senator herself would describe as maturity and growth, a more skeptical observer might label it nothing more than rank opportunism to advance a political career.
Undercover investigator of Project Veritas fame, James O’Keefe, focused on the Sinema campaign during her senatorial run. Field organizer Madison Snarr was caught revealing that the candidate’s moderate stylings were merely a tactic. “She had to play centrist to move up, become powerful,” Snarr said. “She’s going to vote for the interests of Arizonans… whatever the f*** that means.”
She’s doing what she thinks is important for her strategy …
Hopeful progressives could take this cynical admission as a sign that the new senator has a leftist goal that needed to be concealed in a general election. But it can also be taken another way: Her true agenda is her own.
America’s “first” openly bisexual senator has made 180-degree changes in her professed beliefs that just happen to correspond with the rise of her political career. These reveal her to be more of a typical self-serving hack than a committed ideologue. While a six-year Senate tenure would offer a bit more security if she does choose to pursue a progressive route, her years as a state representative and then a U.S. congresswoman strongly hint that Sinema will continue to steer a course that will protect and advance her own entrenchment at the taxpayer feeding trough.
Matter of Belief
Moderating her tone is one thing, but what are we to make of Sinema’s startling change of direction on two of the issues she cared so passionately about in her halcyon days as a twentysomething activist?
Arizona’s new senator was staunchly anti-war during the time of George W. Bush’s presidency and the neocon adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. She organized protests and frequently spoke out on the issue. Even as late as 2006, two years after she was first elected to a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, Sinema was adamant about her beliefs.
“As one of the core organizers against the war from day one (September 12, 2011), I have always and will always continue to oppose war in all its forms,” she wrote in April 2006. Yet in 2012, a mere six years later, as she was making her first run for the U.S. House, Sinema had suddenly become a defender of war as U.S. international policy. “You should never take military intervention off the table,” she told The Hill. “When you do so, you give an out to a rogue nation or rogue actors.”
She went on to be elected in a newly created electoral district deemed to be politically neutral. After winning again in 2014 in her swing district, she went on to vote against former president Barack Obama’s Iran deal in 2015, a cherished issue to anti-war progressives. “No Democrat should vote for a path to war over hard-fought diplomacy,” said Ilya Sheyman, of MoveOn.org, a “grassroots” organizing group.
Radical to Establishment
In a similar display of flexibility, a younger Sinema declared herself to be deeply opposed to capitalism. On Feb. 22, 2002, the Arizona Republic published a letter to the editor from her in which she wrote, “[u]ntil the average American realizes that capitalism damages her livelihood while augmenting the livelihoods of the wealthy, the Almighty Dollar will continue to rule. It certainly is not ruling in our favor.”
She also worked with the Arizona Communist Party as part of her activism at this same time.
Fast forward to 2014: She tries to win re-election in the U.S. House and is endorsed by the arch-global capitalist establishment power organ – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The Arizona business community appreciates Rep. Sinema’s hard work on issues like the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said at the time. From excoriating capitalism to hugging the Export-Import Bank in 12 years. That is a lot of personal “growth.” Or merely the actions of someone whose eyes were opened on how to win and keep winning elections in our corrupt political cesspool.
Echoing campaign staffer Snarr’s words about how the senator can play the centrist to advance her career failed, the 2018 Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate, state Sen. Steve Farley, explained why fellow political Dems would continue to support her despite such marked changes in view. “She’s doing what she thinks is important for her strategy, and I’ve got to respect that, because I’ve never met anybody more ambitious,” Farley said, the Huffington Post reports. Ambitious does seem to be the best way to describe Arizona’s new senator.
For those who may be relieved at the notion that Sinema is just another careerist hack and not a committed radical, I would ask you to ponder just how much damage has been done to this nation over the past 100-odd years by exactly this sort of politician, people who thought of nothing but themselves and their own place in office.