Unfortunately, in politics, there aren’t many friendships between those on one side of the aisle and their counterparts on the other. Hell, there isn’t even much discussion or agreement, either.
However, every once in a great while, someone rises up to do the unexpected, to listen to both sides, and to do what is actually best for the country or, at the very least, their specific state, regardless of where it will get them or their particular party.
As I said, it’s a rare thing.
But according to Senate Minority Leader and long-time Republican Mitch McConnell, that is exactly what Democrat and Arizonan Senator Kyrsten Sinema is.
In fact, during a recent introductory speech at the University of Louisville, McConnell named Sinema as the single “most effective first-term senator” he’s seen in his time in the US Senate. It is noted that McConnell has been in the Upper House for 37 years so far, which is no small feat.
McConnell told the crowd, “I’ve only known Kyrsten for four years, but she is, in my view – and I’ve told her this – the most effective first-term senator I’ve seen in my time in the Senate. She is, today, what we have too few of in the Democratic Party: a genuine moderate and a dealmaker.”
He explained that Sinema is one of the few in the left-leaning party who doesn’t want to be rid of the filibuster, the institution that requires a total of 60 votes for legislation to pass in the Upper Chamber as opposed to a simple majority of 51 votes.
As you know, the ruling party of the day, currently the Democrats, have proposed getting rid of the filibuster more than a few times in our nation’s history, as it would allow one party or another to nearly always get their agenda pushed through, depending which one holds the majority. McConnell noted that even former Republican President Donald Trump tried to do away with the filibuster on a number of occasions.
Thankfully, the process has never been nixed.
And this past year, Sinema was one of only two Democrats who wouldn’t let that happen.
Along with West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, she went against the grain of her party and said that the filibuster must be maintained.
As McConnell noted in his Monday speech, it wasn’t a “fashionable” viewpoint to have in her party and took “one hell of a lot of guts.” But Kyrsten Sinema stood her ground anyway.
Additionally, Sinema worked hand in hand with Republicans on more than one occasion to come up with legislations and processes that worked best for all involved and not just her own party, including bills on voting reform, gun safety, boosting the nation’s infrastructure, and strengthening the semiconductor industry.
Sinema explained in her own remarks and during her speech that she feels that bipartisanship is the only way to go. According to her, she was not elected just to deliver results to one party or another but to the people who voted her in. That means she is required not to listen to the plan her party wants to push through so much as the voices of Arizonans back home.
Besides, it’s not like the Senate wasn’t specifically designed for a much slower and more strategically thought-out legislation process like the filibuster. She describes it as a difference between giving into the “passion of the moment,” as the House of Representatives is more prone to do, and requiring people to “cool down” and “compromise and work together.”
Of course, that resistance to conform to her specific party lines hasn’t exactly won her much adoration, besides that of Mitch McConnell.
While having the ear and even “friendship,” as she calls it, of the Senate Minority Leader, who could very well become the Majority Leader in just a few short months, is good, it might not matter if constituents back home don’t agree with what she’s doing.
As a new AARP poll taken earlier this month noted, nearly 54 percent of both sides of the political aisle aren’t looking all that favorably at Sinema in Arizona. Hopefully, McConnell’s praise is taken to heart.