The”Myth of Bipartisanship”: Kyrsten Sinema Becomes The Latest Victim of Rage Politics

Below is my column in the Hill on the Democratic members and groups attacking Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) after she repeated her support for the filibuster rule. The reaction to her floor speech reveals the depth of the addiction to rage in our body politic.  It is the same license that we saw this weekend in Florida when Florida agriculture commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried compared the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis to the rise of “Hitler.” It is not enough to disagree. You have to compare your opponent to a genocidal murderer. It seems that we cannot discuss even agriculture policies without raising Anschluss in the age of rage.  Many of us criticized former President Trump for his personal attacks and attacks on the press, but many of those same voices are now denouncing others, like Sinema, as enemies of democracy and the people. Sinema is a case study in rage politics.

Here is the column:

In Shakespeare’s “Othello,” the character Iago famously declared that “men in rage strike those that wish them best.” It was a warning that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) now understands all too well. Both Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have refused to be bullied into changing the filibuster rule — a rule that forces the parties into dialogue and compromise.

Sinema supports the voting rights legislation but sees this move as endangering any chance of national healing and resolution. She stated on the Senate floor that “we have but one democracy. We can only survive, we can only keep her, if we do so together.” That deeply felt speech was met with vile, threatening attacks. It appears that, in a nation addicted to rage, even those seeking an intervention can become the casualties of our political distemper.

Sinema offered the same arguments long used to support the filibuster — indeed, the same arguments made by President Biden until this week. Biden once called earlier efforts to change the filibuster “disastrous” for democracy and proclaimed, “God save us from that fate. … [It] would change this fundamental understanding and unbroken practice of what the Senate is all about.” Others joined him then in demanding that Senate Republicans preserve the rule in the name of democracy itself, including then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who insisted that abandoning the rule would be “doomsday for Democracy” and reduce the United States to a “banana Republic.”

All of those speeches were celebrated back then in the media and by Democrats as powerful and poignant.

Yet that is the liberating quality of rage: It is pure and absolute without the burden of reason or recognition. Liberal commentators this week went after Sinema with sputtering, blind fury, many mocking that she became emotional as she described the anger and divisions in the country.

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell wrote, “Sinema delivers the Senate’s stupidest speech by a Democrat in an edge-of-tears voice to give childish words a melodramatic effect.” Onetime MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tweeted that Sinema “needs to resign or be removed from office immediately. … [She] has become a menace to the continuation of American democracy.” MSNBC’s Malcolm Nance went further and said Sinema’s staff should “resign at the shame of being handmaidens to the death of Democracy.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, who previously called for burning down the Republican Party, tweeted, “Sinema is effectively asking the authors of Jim Crow and vote-rigging to give their permission for her to stop it. This is worse than incoherent or cowardice. It’s a moral disgrace. Ask the segregationists for permission to vote for Civil Rights Act?”

So, senators voicing the same position recently held by Democrats such as Biden, Obama and Schumer are now “segregationists”?

The “Jim Crow on steroids” reference to the Georgia election law was voiced by Biden, who has now yielded entirely to rage politics. He recently pledged to do “whatever it takes” to pass the legislation, and his solution was to go full blind rage in Atlanta by accusing anyone voting for the filibuster as siding with segregationists and seeking the destruction of democracy. The next day, Biden unleashed a tirade denouncing half of the Senate for seeking to establish autocracy through voter suppression.

The president, who once insisted he would be the nation’s unifier, has discovered the license of rage politics — the same license shown by those who chased Sinema into a bathroom last year. Likewise, after Sinema’s floor speech, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staffer Sarah Michelsen was thrilled to see Sinema close to tears and encouraged activists to “keep going” with the attacks because they are “breaking her.”

It is the same license to hate and harass that was shown by ACLU lawyer Samuel Crankshaw, who opposed high schooler Nicholas Sandmann being accepted into college even after he was shown to have been falsely accused of harassing a Native American activist in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It is the license that recently led a Los Angeles Times columnist to defend mocking the deaths of unvaccinated people.

Some Democrats were quick to promise that Sinema had just ended her career; CNN’s Joe Lockhart wrote, “Probably more accurate to refer to her as former Senator Sinema.” Her speech was, in that sense, reminiscent of another courageous senator, Edmund Ross of Kansas, one of seven Republicans who voted to acquit then-President Andrew Johnson in 1868. He described his fateful vote as “literally [looking] down into my open grave.”

Ross is celebrated as a “profile of courage” for taking such a stand despite the anger of his own party.

So, too, was Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) when he voted to convict then-President Trump in his second impeachment trial; liberal commentators showered him with praise. In 2020, Stephen Colbert heralded Romney as “a ray of hope” who spoke the truth and was “willing to put up with whatever the blowback for this decision is.”

O’Donnell tweeted that “each day for the rest of his life [Lindsey Graham] will live in enraged jealousy of [Romney’s] courage.” While Romney also got emotional on the floor, O’Donnell did not mock him for his “edge-of-tears voice to give childish words a melodramatic effect.”

Schumer went public to “salute” Romney: “The pressure on every Republican was enormous. … The fact that this is bipartisan holds up a beacon to what was right and what was wrong.”

Yet, according to the Liberal pundits, Sinema is no Romney. She had the audacity to stand on principle rather than politics. It is widely believed that other Democratic senators share her discomfort with changing the filibuster, but, thus far, they have not summoned the same courage to face such withering criticism. As I wrote last year, such integrity is rarely rewarded by one’s own party: “Ross, like Romney, jumped — to the applause of the opposing party. In the Senate, self-sacrifice remains an act best admired from a distance.”

Sinema’s speech was denounced by those who insist that bipartisanship is a “myth” in the age of rage. She is, according to MSNBC’s Nina Turner, a “soulless coward” for seeking common ground and compromise. She is hated precisely because she did not hate enough. She did not hate Republicans so blindly as to declare them modern Bull Connors like Biden did or to call the filibuster “a relic of Jim Crow.”

In the age of rage, civility is repulsive and intolerable. Sinema made herself a reference point that exposed how unhinged many of her fellow Democrats have become. Remove that reference point, and only rage remains.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

246 thoughts on “The”Myth of Bipartisanship”: Kyrsten Sinema Becomes The Latest Victim of Rage Politics”

  1. Turley is missing his quota. To maintain his thin veneer of balance he’s supposed to ensure that he criticizes at least one Republican for every 37 Democrats he goes after. But wait, perhaps there are no examples of Republicans denouncing other Republicans who defy the party leaders. Oh yes,that must explain things.

  2. The Republicants are simply the “against” party: “Anything you want, we oppose.”

    1. David, you mean they oppose things like voter fraud, open borders, confiscatory taxes, censorship, looting, arson, and car jackings?

      How dare they!

      1. “. . . and car jackings?” and compulsory vaccination, a botched withdrawal, a foreign policy that has our enemies licking their chops, kneecapping the energy industry, and skyrocketing inflation. And incoherent Cackling Queens, and doddering old fools playing “president.” And “uniting the country” by smearing political opponents as domestic terrorists and racists.

    2. Breaking: Man whose party branded itself as “The Resistance” notices the other party’s resistance.

    3. Or, they just oppose things that violate the Constitution. Like Nationalizing Elections. Something clearly enumerated in the Constitution as a power left to the States.

    4. All I can tell from your posts, and I’ve been here a while, is that either you got the DNC spreadsheet this morning, directives from the people that pay you, or that your brain is on sleep mode and you let MSNBC fill in the blanks. Nobody here takes you seriously, not even a little bit. This ain’t Tik Tok. My advice: cancel your cable subscription. The bubble you live in might as well have you solving mysteries on the Orient Express, and Hercule Poirot beat you to it. You are not voting for JFK in this modern era, you are voting for the Viet Cong, the Soviets, the Maoist destruction of China (watch the movie ‘To Live’ if you aren’t a total sycophant and p***y) and if the dems go much further, the nazi party of Germany. Take your bull**** with your comfy home, plenty of food to eat of your own choosing, your wifi, and $1,000 iPhone, and five figure credit card debt somewhere else. There are still people in this world that subsist on rice and little else and stand in line every day for clean water.

    5. Nowhere does the Constitution provide “anything you want.”

      What the Constitution provides is one thing and one thing only: Freedom.

      The only reason you “wanters” even “want” the vote, is to cheat and steal things that are not provided by the Constitution and are, in fact, prohibited by the Constitution.

      You don’t need the vote because the vote does you no good; everything you want is denied by the Constitution.

      The Founders provided freedom so that all you “wanters” out there could provide whatever you want for yourselves through your efforts in the free markets of the private sector.

      The entire communistic American welfare state is unconstitutional including, but not limited to, matriculation affirmative action, grade-inflation affirmative action, employment affirmative action, quotas, welfare,

      food stamps, minimum wage, rent control, social services, forced busing, public housing, utility subsidies, WIC, SNAP, TANF, HAMP, HARP, TARP, HHS, HUD, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy,

      Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

      Try reading the Constitution – start with Article 1, Section 8, and note that regulation is limited to money, commerce and land and naval Forces, that taxation is limited to general (i.e. ALL) Welfare, and that

      private property means that government cannot order any particular disposition of it.


      “[T]he laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the

      debts or provide for the welfare of the Union.”

      – Thomas Jefferson

  3. “Out of 90 cases related to the 2020 presidential election, only 25 were decided on the merits, and 18 of those were won by Trump and/or the GOP party in the lawsuit.

    In the 14 months since the election, abundant evidence of irregularities has emerged through audits, investigations, and court decisions — much of it surfacing within the past month. ”

    1. It is reasonably clear now that the number of illegal votes in Georgia and Wisconsin exceeded Biden’s respective margins of victory. In Georgia, those who unlawfully voted in a county after moving out of it more than 30 days before Election Day to permanent residence elsewhere exceeded the margin. In Wisconsin, the number of unlawful drop-box votes exceeded the margin. And there were no doubt other kinds of unlawful votes in both states. Evidence regarding other states is not yet as certain, though Pennsylvania likely also will be found to have fallen into this category.

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