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Opinion

What the Devil won't tell you

A chance for Pima County voters to confront Sinema — if indirectly

Been wanting to holler at U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema but haven't had the chance because Arizona's senior senator can't fit public appearances into her sangria-filled schedule?

Here's a chance to do the next best thing.

During the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Troy Kimball, one of Sinema's aides, will make a presentation about the senator's priorities for the remainder of her term.

This as good of an opportunity as voters will get, perhaps, to ask her about her agenda. Arizonans should avail themselves of the opportunity. The public can comment on Kimball's stand-in act (but don't attack Kimball; he's punching a clock) during the board's call to the audience segment. 

Sinema's last 18 months in office have seemed wholly dedicated to undermining the priorities of the voters who elected her. The child tax credit expansion? Dead. Climate change responses? Mostly dead. Child care subsidies? Wrecked. Health care expansion? Forget about it. Voting rights? Done and dusted. Abortion rights? About to be tossed right back to the late 19th century. Democracy itself? On life support.

No one is more responsible than Sinema for her party's legislative implosion. West Virginia's Joe Manchin eventually pulled the rug out from under the "Build Back Better" plan, calling it loaded with gimmicks such as one-year funding plans on programs that are actually intended to be permanent. Sinema's refusal to raise the corporate tax an inch (even back to what corporate types were originally asking for) forced Democrats to rig the mirrors with bailing wire.

So consistent (mock, mock) has Sinema's devotion to the Trump corporate tax giveaway that she voted against it for four years, before resolving to defend it to the end.

Manchin followed Sinema's lead in ultimately protecting Red State voter suppression laws by refusing to provide a carve out to the 60-vote supermajority requirement to pass voting rights legislation out of the Senate.  The feelings of angry white men, see, are more important to Sinema than ensuring millions of people of color can access democracy.

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Sinema offered little explanation. Instead she just tweeted a "talk-to-the-ring-and-f*@#-off" to the people who organized, donated and voted to put her in office.

My problem with her has more to do with her ivory-tower seclusion than her policy positions. Sometimes for senators to do their jobs right, they should contradict public opinion and irk their supporters. Then it's on the senator to explain why. Our representatives don't owe us obedience. They do owe us explanations.

I'm of the opinion that publicly elected officials are public servants. If an Arizona liberal were elected to the U.S. Senate, that senator should hold town halls in Mohave County, Lake Havasu City and blood-red bastions of Republican voters. Right-wingers should make themselves available to Midtown Tucson voters and those in South Phoenix and Nogales.

That's the ideal. I'll take something close to it. 

Love him or hate him, former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl was all over Arizona and available. He knew the state cold. His office was professional and easy to work with. Hell, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was so available, she  nearly martyred herself on the altar of public outreach.

Sinema treats voters as an annoyance until she needs them come election season.

Sinema won't hold town halls. She won't talk to the press or make her opinion known to the media's readers or viewers. Her public appearances are limited to keep icky people away who might question her. And when she's approached on — say — an airplane, she won't look up from her phone. She won't even acknowledge an Arizonans humanity.

She'll even use the bathroom to dodge random encounters with voters.

Sinema simply will not subject herself to voter scrutiny until 2024, when she clearly hopes the alternative is "so bad," people have no choice but put her back in office.

She calls herself an independent. Please. Apparently, she's the independent who will make sure election victories by either party have no consequences. That takes the power from voters and gives it to D.C.'s back-room fixers. Voters see that and increasingly become more tolerant of extremism.

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Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we're wrong. Maybe Sinema could just set us straight. She doesn't seem interested in that. 

Tuesday is the next best thing: Her staffer will address the Pima County supervisors. Anyone with a message they want to relay, can show up and fill out a speaker's card.

Taking criticism comes with the job, like one of those important lapel pins, an office suite and travel budget. What doesn't come with the job is a coronet and robes.

Sinema is a senator, not a duchess.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years and is the former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.


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