As Republicans continue to enact extreme laws imperiling American democracy, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is tanking Democrats’ chance to pass sweeping voting rights legislation. Time and again, the Arizona lawmaker has offered flawed and easily debunked defenses of the filibuster, pushing free and fair elections closer to the brink of extinction.
Earlier this month, as Republicans used the outdated legislative blockade to stop an independent commission to examine the Capitol insurrection, Sinema stood with a Republican and proclaimed her support of the filibuster—a tool historically used to block civil rights legislation—by saying it “protects the democracy of our nation.” And on Tuesday, Sinema doubled down on her support for the filibuster with an op-ed in The Washington Post which falsely argued that nixing the filibuster would weaken “democracy’s guardrails.”
The real threat to our nation’s democracy is the proliferation of voter suppression laws. Just this year, 14 states have enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote—and there are more to come. Advocates, experts, and state legislators are sounding the alarm that Americans’ right to vote is in unprecedented peril.
Democrats have 50 votes for a compromise version of the For the People Act, which would block many of the recent restrictions on voting access and strengthen our democracy by guaranteeing access to the ballot box and ending gerrymandering. But Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says the Republicans will filibuster any and all bills to end voter suppression and gerrymandering.
Senator Sinema’s fellow Arizonans are imploring Democrats to choose democracy over the obsolete relic of a shameful past. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs called on the Senate to do “whatever it takes” to protect voting rights, including reforming the filibuster. “This issue of voting rights is not one that we should be playing political games with,” said Hobbs. “We’re seeing access rolled away in a lot of states as a response to the last election.”
Imelda Ojeda, founder of the AZ Social Workers Network and an intern on Sinema’s 2014 Congressional campaign, told More Perfect Union that her former boss’s opposition to reforming the filibuster betrays the code of ethics that Sinema herself adopted as a social worker. Senator Sinema said, “I ran for office because as a social worker I saw a need in my community that was unmet.” Ojeda believes that “[Senator Sinema] is not carrying the voice of our communities anymore.”
“As social workers, we’re called to always speak up and do something about social injustice,” Ojeda said. “We believe that the filibuster is getting in the way. ”