The Ghosts of Prop. 204

The ghosts of Prop 204 4

“And in the naked light I saw, ten thousand people, maybe more
people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening
people writing songs that voices never share, and no one dared
disturb the sound of silence.” – Paul Simon

Last November, Tucson voters were asked to consider Proposition 204. Also known as “Strong Start Tucson,” Prop. 204 would have increased the Tucson city sales tax by one half-cent, and generated an estimated $50 million a year to pay for 8,000 children to attend high-quality preschool. The proposal was roundly condemned by a large, bi-partisan group that included Jim Click, the Koch brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity, the Mayor and almost ever City Council person, and a large portion of our Democratic state legislative caucus. When voters and activists asked the Democrats who opposed Prop. 204 why they were so dead-set against a liberal no-brainer like expanded early childhood education, the most common arguments were that Prop. 204 was sloppily written and didn’t go far enough in advancing the goal of educating more of our children. During the run-up to the November 7 election, social media resounded with guarantees from Democratic opponents that, if we voted “no,” our judiciousness would be rewarded with a much better early education proposal. Well, it is going on six months since Prop. 204 was defeated by a margin of 33% to 66%, and our reward so far has been bupkis.

There are some good souls out there; brave and honest elected officials who have at least tried to get something done. This legislative session, a group of Democratic state legislators introduced HB 2363, which would establish an early literacy grant program to improve reading skills for prekindergarten, kindergarten, and elementary school students. LD 10 Democratic State Representative Kirsten Engel introduced HB 2355, which would impose a 0.02% sales tax on soda and sweetened beverages, the entirety of which would be spent on early childhood education programming. Representative Engel’s proposal appears to be a popular one; out of 600 likely, rural 2018 general election voters polled, 59% supported the measure. And…both bills died in committee, after receiving no hearing and almost no attention or interest. (To add insult to injury, the Legislature did pass HB 2484, which essentially prohibits cities and towns from passing soda taxes like the one Representative Engel proposed.)

When it comes to our city government, which took the lead on opposing Prop. 204 among local Democrats, no one has dared disturb the postmortem silence. Tucson City Council minutes from November 8, 2017, through March 20, 2018, (11 regular meetings plus 10 study sessions) reveal not one single mention of early education has yet to darken City Hall. Nor does the Council seem to have any interest in advocating for early childhood education at the state capitol. On November 21, 2017, a mere two weeks after the demise of Prop. 204, the Council discussed Tucson’s 2018 state legislative agenda. The four priorities the Council approved by unanimous a 7-0 vote were:

1.) Defend against any and all cuts to State-shared revenues and other State funds
dedicated to local governments.
2.) Protect and enhance local authority and decision making.
3.) Support the ability of cities to utilize strong economic development tools and increase infrastructure investment and public safety.
4.) Support strong and sustainable water management policies and practices.

Interestingly, the twelfth sub-section of priority #3 is, “Support sufficient State of Arizona funding of K-12, Community College, and University level education without threatening SSR or other funding streams currently designated to support local governments.” Even here, the silence of the Council on new early education programs is deafening.

Finally, during his annual State of the City speech on March 9, the Mayor of Tucson added a cherry of dismissal to the sundae of early education disinterest our city leaders are serving to voters who took their “we promise we will do better than Prop. 204” assurances to heart. The speech was chock full of civic boosterism, which we cannot blame the Mayor for, as that is what such speeches are all about. However, the Mayor did not even bother to pay lip service to supporting an early childhood education program. He didn’t propose to create a study group or recommend a task force – he studiously maintained the silence that has dominated the issue since last November.

Two weeks before the election, I wrote on this blog,

Come 2018, if Prop. 204 fails then all local Democrats should look forward to our City Council and state legislative caucus telling us precisely what the right answer is. If they do not, if the sound of education reform in city hall and the state capitol is the deafening sound of silence…Well, at least we know the value our elected officials place on telling us the truth, and bettering our children’s futures.

Sometimes it really sucks to be right.

– Joel Feinman

The Dirty Heart of Clean Elections

3

“The mind of man is capable of anything — because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future.” – Joseph Conrad

Manufacturing fear of crime and criminals, and exploiting the boogeyman of the convicted felon is a hallowed American political tradition. As researcher Anthony M. Platt wrote in the journal Social Justice in 1994, “Every politician running for office in the November elections recognized that law and order demagoguery was the ticket to success.” This certainly applies to presidential contenders; see Bush 41’s execrable 1988 Willie Horton ad, Bill Clinton’s interruption of his 1992 presidential campaign to fly back to Arkansas to ensure the execution of a mentally ill black man, and Donald Trump’s seemingly endless invocations of Chicago, “American carnage,” and racialized sexual assault.

None of this fear-mongering and dog-whistling will come as any surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with American politics. What may be surprising is that, in Arizona, people convicted of felonies are forced by law to help pay for some of the very campaigns that demonize them to achieve victory.

Paying for the privilege of the hangman’s noose

On November 3, 1998, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, the “Clean Elections Act.” According to the Commission which oversees it, the Act provides “clean funding” to statewide and state legislative candidates, who want to campaign with public funds instead of private donations as a way of avoiding the influence of private donors. Essentially, candidates who choose to “run clean” must demonstrate they have community support by collecting a set number of $5 qualifying contributions. The Clean Elections Commission then gives these candidates public funds to run their campaigns. These public funds come from three places: 1) the $5 qualifying donations gathered by clean candidates, 2) civil penalties levied against candidates who violate the clean elections law, and 3) a 10% surcharge on civil penalties and criminal fines. It is this third funding source that deserves special scrutiny.

Under Arizona law, any time a court imposes a fine on a defendant for a civil violation (parking ticket) or a criminal violation (robbery), the court must also impose a 10% surcharge on that fine, which goes into the clean elections fund. In October 2002, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this law in the case of May v. McNally, and ruled that the surcharge was a “tax” that did not violate the First Amendment’s ban on compelled speech.

Requiring people convicted of crimes to help fund the campaigns of law & order candidates who will, if elected, make their lives even worse would startle Kafka himself –  unless he was born in Arizona. Lest we think this does not actually occur, we need only examine some of the positions taken by the following “clean” elected officials:

  • State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Tucson), who has been endorsed by Joe Arpaio and the Arizona Citizen’s Defense League.
  • State Representative Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff), who likes to tweet about how the liberal media underreports black-on-white crime, and how former Attorney General Eric Holder is “soft on crime” because he doesn’t like how many black men are in prison.
  • State Representative Becky Nutt (R-Clifton), who supports private prisons and thinks “drug and human smuggling are out of control.”
  • State Representative Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa), who voted to lengthen the prison sentences of undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes.
  • State Representative Anthony Kern (R-Glendale), who believes in “mandatory sentencing laws with stiff penalties to prevent violent criminals and predators from being released back onto our streets.”

“A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens, but by how it treats its criminals.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky

What could be more cruelly ironic than forcing people convicted of criminal offenses – whose newly depressed job prospects already increase the difficulty of making ends meet – to fund their further political demonization? How about forcing them to pay for an electoral system they cannot participate in.

Arizona law holds that, once a person is convicted of a felony, they automatically lose a host of civil and political rights, including the right to bear arms, the right to serve on a jury and hold public office, and the right to vote. One may think this is appropriate for people convicted of murder, rape, and armed robbery. However, before we clamber up a soap box and preach about not doing the crime if you can’t do the time, we might want to pause and reflect on just how many acts qualify as felonies in Arizona these days. Here are 29 pages of them, an incomplete list that includes such horrors as branding an animal that belongs to another person, pandering, and filing a false bingo report.

Such over-criminalization extracts a heavy toll on our democracy; as of 2016, Arizona had the 8th highest percentage of disenfranchised voters in the nation; 221,170 people, or 4.25% of the State’s population, was ineligible to vote in the last election due to a criminal record. Elections are won and lost by far smaller numbers than this. In 2016 Representative Finchem beat his Democrat opponent by 9,998 votes – 4.5% of Arizona’s disenfranchised voters. Representative Thorpe won his race by 4,770 votes – 2.1% of disenfranchised voters. Representative Kern’s victory over his Democratic opponent was the thinest of all clean elections candidates; he won by 4,001 votes, a mere 1.8% of the Arizonans disenfranchised by a criminal conviction.

“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed. “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.” ― Joseph Heller

The Clean Elections Act’s final insult to injury occurs when people with criminal convictions attempt to get their voting rights restored. The law automatically restores most first offenders’ civil rights once they complete probation or are discharged from prison, but only as long as they pay off all of the fines and restitution imposed as part of their sentence.

To see how the momentous injustice of this can play out, let’s assume for the sake argument that our neighbor, John Yossarian, pleads guilty to selling real estate without a proper license, which in Arizona is a felony offense. After his plea the court automatically revokes Yossarian’s right to vote, and orders him to pay a $10,000 fine. This means Yossarian must also pay a $1,000 surcharge to the state clean elections fund on top of that fine. He can no longer sell real estate, so Yossarian cannot get a good job and earn a significant income. After eighteen months he successfully completes probation and doesn’t get into trouble again, but working for minimum wage at a fast food restaurant means he has no extra money to pay either the fine or the surcharge. Consequently Yossarian’s right to vote is not restored, and he cannot vote against his state representative and their tough on crime platform in the 2018 election. Even if Yossarian does scrape together the $11,000 it will take to get his voting rights back, a percentage of that money will help fund his representative’s re-election campaign against a more progressive opponent who, unlike Yossarian’s representative, wants to end mass incarceration and over-criminalization.

This is the realty of the Clean Elections Act, and its injustice plays out hundreds of times a day in courtrooms all over our state. The intention behind the Act – ameliorating the effect of money on elections – may have been noble, but as is so often the case in our history, it is the poorest and most helpless among us who must pay the price for our noble efforts. That price isn’t cheap, and can be measured by the 221,170 Arizonans who could not vote in the last election for a better and more equitable society.

– Joel Feinman

 

Dr. King is no Pawn of White Supremacy

MLK

This picture is a fake. It was photoshopped from a real picture taken of Dr. King on June 19, 1964, showing him giving the peace sign after hearing that the civil rights bill had passed the U.S. Senate.

MLK real picture

Dr. King didn’t give us the finger in 1964. In 2018, we would certainly deserve it.

Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is a white supremacist. His victory was the crowing jewel of a resurgent white supremacist system – the same one Dr. King fought against, and the same one that murdered him. The rickety explanation that Trump’s election was nothing more than understandable working class anger collapses in the face of hard data proving it was racism that won him the day, not economic anxiety.

Trump governs in accordance with the ideology of white supremacy. It is visible across all of his policies, from immigration to criminal justice to foreign affairs. His Republican Party – in control of all three branches of the federal government and a majority of state governments – stands firmly behind him, and does not disavow his white supremacy.

So today, let us pause our inspirational memeing about the arc of the moral universe bending towards justice and recognize for a moment that this is the government of the United States of America. Today, January 15, 2018, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“We must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”
MLK, Eulogy for the Martyred Children, Sept. 18, 1963

Trump does not govern alone. Just as it’s important to understand the system of white supremacy that produced him, it is also critical to identify enablers and co-conspirators who, through both action and inaction, allow his white supremacist government to survive and thrive.

A confederacy of dunces and hate

On January 9 in the state capitol, during, of all things, a harassment and ethics training session at the House of Representatives, LD 10 Representative Todd Clodfelter (R-Tucson) opened his personal laptop which displayed an image of the confederate flag. LD 4 Representative Geraldine Peten (D-Goodyear), one of only two African-American legislators in Arizona, confronted Mr. Clodfelter about the image and asked him to take it down. He initially refused, and said the two lawmakers would have to “agree to disagree.” According to Mr. Clodfelter,

All my family and ancestry is from the South. And my perspective of the imagery of that particular flag is not the same as hers. So from my perspective, it’s acceptable. From hers, it’s offensive.”

Mr. Clodfelter later agreed not to bring his personal laptop to the House floor. He told Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller he continues to have a favorable view of the Southern cause, and the confederate flag “represents sovereignty and freedom and revolution toward tyranny.” This is white supremacist ideology. It is also a lie.

With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system…Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws.” – Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, March 21, 1861

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world.” – Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession, January 9, 1861

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.” – Texas’ Declaration of Secession, February 2, 1861

The confederacy stood for slavery and white supremacy. Its flag celebrates “southern culture and history” only in the same way the Nazi flag celebrates German heritage. The sole difference between the stars & bars and the swastika is that Arizona politicians still feel comfortable displaying the symbol of 19th Century white supremacist genocide inside our state capitol, but draw the line at showing off its 20th Century counterpart.

What is most depressing about Mr. Clodfelter and his prideful adherence to white supremacy is that today, under this President and this government, it is banal. There are hundreds of Todd Clodfelters in state capitols across the U.S., and they are a crucial to normalizing our white supremacist President and his – our – white supremacist government.

Introducing the next Senator from the great state of Arizona

On January 12, Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-CD2) announced her candidacy for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake. During her announcement in Tucson, Ms. McSally made sure to normalize and excuse Trump’s white supremacist condemnation of Haitian, Salvadoran, and African immigrants as coming from “shithole” countries. “I speak a little salty behind closed doors,” the Congresswoman said. Ms. McSally’s campaign announcement video is a masterful amalgam of fear-mongering, dog-whistle racism, and militaristic cheerleading. In it, the Congresswoman explicitly sides with our white supremacist President. She flashes a picture of them posing together and smiling, she brags that she is “Arizona’s most reliable vote for the Trump agenda,” and she plays an audio clip of Trump lauding her as “the real deal” and his “friend.”

Not much analysis or commentary is needed here. “The Trump agenda” is white supremacy, and nothing advances that agenda more effectively than voting for it in Washington. And yet, today Ms. McSally will still be invited to take some stage and lionize the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If Malcom were here he would recognize this old ruse;  the approach of the angel who is really nothing but the devil.

Sadly for us Democrats, the system, the way of life, the philosophy of white supremacy is bipartisan. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) is also running for Senator Flake’s seat. Ms. Sinema did not brag about her loyalty to the Trump agenda in her campaign announcement video – the sins of that piece of political theatre are of a different order. However if we are taking Dr. King’s admonition seriously, we cannot fail to note how studiously Ms. Sinema avoids opposing our white supremacist President, and the white supremacist policies of his white supremacist government. Her campaign website mentions no policies and takes no positions – it is strictly a fundraising vehicle.* The “latest news” section of her congressional website contains not a single condemnation of anything Trump has ever said. None of her seven legislative priorities include combating Trumpism, and her solutions for “fixing a broken Washington” are limited to withholding congressional salaries until a budget is passed, expanding election spending disclosure rules, and cutting government waste and inefficiency. When you are U.S Congressperson, whose full-time job is to propose, to oppose, and to govern, silence is acquiescence. It is consent. Only a tiny fraction of southerners donned white masks and robes and murdered black men, women, and children during the 1950s and 60s. It was the silence of the majority, who turned their heads and closed their lips, that allowed the white supremacist terrorism of that era to claim so many lives.

Maybe – probably – Mr. Clodfelter, Ms. McSally, and Ms. Sinema do not think their actions and inactions support a system of white supremacy. Maybe – probably – they claim there is no racism in their hearts, and their positions on race and Trump are expedient choices all good politicians must make in order advance their real agendas. Maybe. But on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, when all three will almost certainly march, and be invited to the microphone to mouth empty platitudes about how they too have a dream, they are not fooling the good doctor. And neither are we. He’s not giving us the peace sign today. Today, he’s giving us the finger.

– Joel Feinman

*Editors note: this statement was accurate when this piece was first published in January, 2018. Beginning in March 2018, the website included a “priorities” page.

Oyez, Oyez, Oy Vey! The AZ Legislature Is Now In Session!

AZ SB1016 1

The 2018 legislative session is upon us, and like children lining up for Spongebob Squarepants on Ice tickets, our knees tremble with anticipation to see what zany antics and logic-defying feats of special interest derring-do our elected officials will get up to this year.

SB1016 – Making the Stasi Proud

Thus far it looks like the dumpster fire that has long been the Arizona Republican legislative agenda will not slacken in the slightest. State Senator John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) has introduced SB1016, which requires people to report to police or rescue personnel “a life-threatening emergency,” if they can do so without endangering themselves or others. Failure to report would be a class 1 criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 6 months in jail.

The problems with this bill are legion. Never mind that it further over-criminalizes life in the “land of the free,” where one lawyer and researcher has estimated the average resident now commits three felonies every day. The bill also makes no effort to define what a “life-threatening emergency” is.

Presumably Mr. Kavanagh and his Republican colleagues consider planning an abortion a life-threatening emergency. If so, everyone from the clinic nurse to the receptionist to the supportive partner will find themselves indicted for a criminal offense if they do not immediately call 911 when they hear a woman utter the word “abortion” to a health care provider. And what about when I was 16, and my best friend Adam jumped off his roof into his pool? Clearly a life-threatening emergency if he’d slipped, or even misjudged the wind a tad. In Senator Kavanagh’s Arizona of small government and maximal individual rights, I should have narced on Adam the moment he clambered up the wall. Likewise the Senator would have you call the police on your squabbling cousins who had too many beers at the family BBQ (shove George too hard and he could fall and hit his head and die), and his bill would mandate you immediately dial 911 when you see another person driving too fast (speeding being a leading cause of deadly traffic accidents).

The AZ Legislature doesn’t want to abolish government; it simply wants to enlarge to the size of a bathtub it can bludgeon us to death with.

SB1016 is not Senator Kavanagh’s first foray into the field of blatantly unconstitutional laws criminalizing innocent behaviour. In 2016 he introduced SB1054, a bill that would have made it illegal for people to shoot video within twenty feet of any law enforcement activity without an officer’s permission. A first offense would have carried a $300 fine, and subsequent violations could have sent people to jail for up to six months. Thankfully the bill went nowhere, but Senator Kavanagh’s past and current legislative efforts expose the intellectual bankruptcy at the core of our state’s legislative majority; they are small government and pro-freedom only as long as people do exactly what they think they should do. The moment their beliefs conflict with the beliefs of others – we shouldn’t be government-mandated narcs, cities should limit the use of polluting plastic bags, schools should teach local history and culture –  our legislative majority seeks to expand the power of the government to arrest, convict, fine and imprison whomever they disagree with. This is big government at its biggest, and the coercive power of the state in it purest form. Senator Kavanagh and his ilk seem hell-bent on proving Reagan right; government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem. At least their government, anyway.

– Joel Feinman

Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t cry Trump – even when he gnaws on our bones.

“If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.”
— H. L. Mencken

A few weeks ago, Phoenix Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema invited The Arizona Republic to tag along with her and her aides in Tempe as they spread gravel to spruce up the home of a Vietnam veteran. The paper rewarded Ms. Sinema’s Thanksgiving invitation by printing a puff piece on her electability and new-found political centrism, replete with pictures of her in work gloves and tennis shoes, thus proving her every-woman bona fides.

Back in October, The Pima Liberator published a critique of Ms. Sinema’s political, personal, and philosophical failings after she announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. In a nutshell, Ms. Sinema is a venal and wholly self-interested professional politician, who would not hesitate one nanosecond to throw a three-legged kitten under a speeding Greyhound bus if it would advance her career by one-half millimeter. The recent Republic article did nothing to disprove this, and indeed strengthened the case against her with this quote:

Trump is “not a thing,” Sinema said when The Arizona Republic asked about her pitch to voters. Sinema added that the controversial president is “not a part of what I think my constituents are worried about or think about.”

This deserves repeating. According to current Congresswoman and U.S. Senatorial hopeful Kyrsten Sinema, neither she nor her constituents – which, if she has her way, will include every Arizonan – worry about the words, actions, or policies of the current President of the United States.

On behalf of the please-God-any-Democrat-but-Sinema campaign, allow me to identify a small sampling of the people whom Ms. Sinema does not consider her constituents:

Alleged pedophiles and rapists will take heart that they can still count themselves as potential Sinema constituents, since they are most certainly not worried about drawing the President’s ire.

Politics, n. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
– Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

The Republic piece also calls into question Ms. Sinema’s epistemology. By claiming that President Trump is “not a part of what I think my constituents are worried about or think about,” Ms. Sinema implies that she regularly speaks to her constituents and has a working knowledge of their concerns. One wonders how this could be, considering Ms. Sinema’s campaign strategy thus far has been to rigorously avoid community meetings, Democratic legislative district meetings, and any other unscripted and open public appearances in which she might actually face some of the 7 million Arizonans who may become her constituents next November. Neither Ms. Sinema’s Facebook page nor her website tell Arizonans where she is campaigning, what groups she is speaking to, or where and when she will listen to constituents tell her what they are actually worried about. Indeed, the only links on Ms. Sinema’s one page website are donate buttons.*

Sinema web page

Juxtapose this “invisible woman” style of campaigning with that of Ms. Sinema’s Democratic primary opponent, Deedra Abboud. Ms. Abboud’s website and Facebook page prominently feature comprehensive lists of her next public appearances, including times, directions, and links to RSVP if one wants to attend. She rarely goes 48 hours without campaigning in public.

Despite Ms. Sinema’s execrable politics, blasé attitude toward Trumpism, and refusal to even pretend to run a public campaign that might expose her to a modicum of criticism and discomfort, many Arizona Democratic leaders have endorsed her candidacy for U.S. Senate. This invites some questions for those leaders; if middle class folks, women, refugees, and Dreamers are not Ms. Sinema’s constituents, are they yours? Because the fact of the matter is these people are very worried about President Trump, and our country’s devolution into a racist, authoritarian state. Are you worrying with them, or are you lining up behind Ms. Sinema and dismissing not only their fears, but their very political existence as constituents worthy of attention?

Endorsing Ms. Sinema means endorsing her casual disregard of the existential crisis we face. It means endorsing the impoverishment, marginalization, and mistreatment of our most vulnerable citizens. It’s a promise to mimic Ms. Sinema’s silence when the jackboots approach.

I’d rather endorse the woman in the green gloves.

Not this time

– Joel Feinman

*Editors note: this statement was accurate when this piece was first published in December 2017. Beginning in March 2018, the website featured additional pages, including a “priorities” page.

Will it be Progress or Treason? The Morning after Prop. 204

Prop 204 3

On November 7, Tucson residents will go to the polls to vote for City Council members in Wards 3, 5, and 6. They will also cast ballots on several propositions, including Proposition 204, aka “Strong Start Tucson.” If it passes, Prop. 204 will increase the Tucson city sales tax by one half-cent and generate an estimated $50 million a year to pay for as many as 8,000 children to attend high-quality preschool. If the proposition fails, we must closely examine what our elected Democratic leadership does next. Will they act in the name of progress, or will they choose inaction and thereby betray the values they claim to defend?

Increased funding for early childhood education is a Democratic Party no-brainer, but several Democratic state legislators, the Mayor of Tucson, and all of our City Council members (minus Ward 3’s Karen Uhlich, who isn’t running for re-election) have joined forces with Jim Click and the Koch Brothers to push for Prop. 204’s defeat. Mr. Click is particularly opposed to Strong Start Tucson; he has spent more than $80,000 spearheading the “No on Prop. 204” campaign. The reasons for this strange alliance can be divided between the nefarious and the virtuous, which will only become visible if Prop. 204 fails.

Prop. 101 vs Prop. 204:
How many police cars equal one preschool?

Exactly how and why the Koch brothers, Jim Click, and the majority of Southern Arizona’s elected Democratic officials teamed up to oppose increased funding for early childhood education is a question the local media has been surprisingly incurious about. However this coalition is extraordinary, and perhaps unprecedented. One possible explanation would, if true, confirm our worst suspicions about politics as mud-bathing and mutual back-scratching, and expose these officials as deeply duplicitous.

On May 16, 2017, 61% of Tucson city voters passed Proposition 101, a five year, 0.5% increase in the city sales tax to pay for road improvements and for new and upgraded fire and police equipment. Prop. 101 was endorsed and actively supported by our Democratic Mayor and City Council. It was also endorsed by the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, and unopposed by millionaire Republican financier Jim Click – neither of whom generally favors any kind of tax increase, for any reason. If Strong Start Tucson fails at the ballot box, it may be in part because the Mayor and City Council made a deal with Mr. Click and the Chamber; Democratic leaders would oppose Prop. 204, if the conservative business community didn’t oppose Prop. 101.

Let us pause here for a moment in defense of pragmatism and good, honest government. Politics involves compromise, and more compromise, and not scuttling the practical good in order to achieve the impossible perfect. If the Mayor and City Council sincerely believed that it would be in Tucson’s best interests to trade Prop. 204 for Prop. 101, that may well have been a rational, utilitarian calculation. However the Democratic Party forces that are passionately denouncing Strong Start Tucson have never made this argument, and our elected officials have studiously avoided it. As politics is not a nursery, so too voters are not nurslings. If our elected officials believe we need to prioritize police and fire and roads over schools, they should come out and say so. Of course if voters disagree it might cost them their next election, but that is precisely how democracy is supposed to work. If our leaders value their jobs more than they value our fully informed consent, then they forfeit all right to call themselves Democrats. Or democrats.

Hopefully the scurrilous allegation that our elected officials sold our children to Jim Click in exchange for a few roads and police cars is false. Thankfully we have a unique opportunity to find out. If Strong Start Tucson fails on November 7, we will see what kind of Democrats really lead Southern Arizona. If they are true to their word, in 2018 they will propose the most progressive Democratic public education agenda in recent history.

Will Democrats be democrats?

I am a big supporter of Strong Start Tucson, and I know there are genuine, well-meaning arguments for and against its passage. I will not rehash them all here; The Arizona Daily Star, the Tucson Sentinel, and The Tucson Weekly have all printed multiple, detailed pro- and anti-Prop. 204 pieces. However for the sake of this argument some of the opposition’s points bear repeating:

  • Prop. 204 only funds early education for approximately 8,000 children, and therefore unjustly excludes tens of thousands of Tucson kids.
  • It will only fund Tucson schools, and therefore unjustly excludes tens of thousands of Pima County kids.
  • The state legislature has been chronically under funding Arizona schools for a very long time. They broke our education system, so they and not the city should be the ones who fix it.
  • Funding school expansion with sales tax revenue is regressive. Schools should be funded with far more equitable property and / or income tax increases.

If these arguments, which have been advanced by our Southern Arizona Democratic leadership, reflect a genuine concern for implementing a better early education system than the one Prop. 204 advances, then our Democratic leaders will wake up the day after Prop. 204’s defeat and push hard for well-funded, progressive educational policy at the city, county, and state levels. If our City Council has genuine policy objections to Prop. 204, and its opposition is not rooted in a cold-blooded political calculation that favors police cars over school buses, then the Council’s 2018 education agenda will be one for the record books. If the lack of early childhood education is the fault of the denizens of the state capitol, then come January our Democratic legislative caucus will introduce bills to institute state-wide, income tax-funded pre-kindergarten for all Arizona children. If funding schools with a sales tax hike is regressive, then our party will insist that our Democratic elected officials use legislative sessions to openly advocate for raising property and income tax dollars for schools.

Let us give our elected officials the benefit of the doubt, and assume they are not lying to our faces when they say they oppose Prop. 204 because it isn’t in the best interests of our children. Let us assume they are sincerely interested in funding pre-k for all Southern Arizona children. Finally, let us presume that our leaders are innocent until proven guilty of selling their ideals and our children’s future to Jim Click and the Koch brothers for the price of some roads and police cars.

At the same time, let us not forget our leaders’ insistence that, “Education is the key to success but Prop. 204 is not the right answer.” Come 2018, if Prop. 204 fails then all local Democrats should look forward to our City Council and state legislative caucus telling us precisely what the right answer is. If they do not, if the sound of education reform in city hall and the state capitol is the deafening sound of silence…Well, at least we know the value our elected officials place on telling us the truth, and bettering our children’s futures. We will know that, to them, our families and our democracy are worth a whole lot less than the price of a police car.

– Joel Feinman

The Three Problems with Kyrsten Sinema or: How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Welcome the Apocalypse

4

On September 28, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, U.S. Representative from Arizona’s 9th congressional district in Phoenix since 2012, announced her intent to seek retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s seat in the 2018 election. Media outlets are calling this good news for Democrats, hailing Ms. Sinema as a “top-tier” candidate due to her fundraising prowess and “her moderate, even GOP-friendly politics [that match] the state’s red-to-purple-ish profile.” And while Ms. Sinema will have to beat at least one other Democrat in the primary – Phoenix attorney Deedra Abboud – social media is already ringing with calls for Democrats to unify behind and vote for Ms. Sinema in the general election next November, because “she’s the only real candidate” and “she’s better than (Republican).”

The problem with these pleas is that Ms. Sinema embodies everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party. Her candidacy, even or perhaps especially if successful, will remind Americans once again just how little Democrats seem to care about electing real, inspiring leaders to public office who will change our state and our country for the better.


The Political

“I actually did vote for it before I voted against it.” – John Kerry

Ms. Sinema began her political career as a progressive, working on Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign and joining “Women in Black,” an anti-war organization which held vigils and protests against the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s “till there’s no more war,” as Ms. Sinema herself stated. When she ran unsuccessfully for the State Legislature as an independent in 2002 with the support of the local Green Party, for which she once served as a spokeswoman, she was dubbed “too extreme” by the Arizona Democratic Party.

Later electoral success saw Ms. Sinema race away from her past, and the more elections she won the further she “evolved” away from her progressive roots. In 2011, while serving in the Arizona State House of Representatives, Ms. Sinema went on television and expressed her adoration for Russell Pearce, Godfather of SB1070, the breathtakingly racist anti-immigrant bill that made Arizona the rightful focus of international scorn.

I’d love to see him run for congress…Actually, I love Russell. We get along very well, not always on policy matters, but on personal matters we do.”

Yet it was in 2012, after Ms. Sinema was first elected to Congress from Arizona’s 9th congressional district, when she shed all qualms about throwing disabled people, sick people, war refugees, consumers and immigrants under the bus for the sake of her naked political ambition. What follows is a list of some of her more egregious congressional votes.

  • Co-sponsor with Matt Salmon of  H.R.4122 “Visa Waiver Program:” suspends the waiver program for individuals who in the last five years have traveled to Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria. Allows the U.S. Secretary of State to add additional countries to the threat list at any time.
  • Co-sponsor of H.R.620 “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017:” removes incentives for businesses to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Co-sponsor of H.J.R.81: balanced budget constitutional amendment.
  • Yes on H.R.3004 “Kate’s Law:” toughens penalties for people repeatedly caught crossing the border without proper documentation.
  • Yes on H.R.3219 “Make America Secure Appropriations Act:” appropriates $1.6 billion for a border wall.
  • Yes on H.R.3697 “Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act:” increases federal agents’ ability to detain and deport non-citizens solely because they live in an immigrant neighborhood considered to be “gang-affiliated.”
  • Yes on H.R.3003 “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act:” strips federal grant money from sanctuary cities.
  • Yes on H.R.411: opposes the nuclear peace deal with Iran.
  • Yes on H.R.567: establishes a committee to investigate the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, widely seen as a political stunt to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects.
  • Yes on H.R.238 “Commodity End-User Relief Act:” weakens Dodd-Frank financial reforms and cuts $32 million from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau budget.
  • Yes on H.R.30 “Save American Workers Act:” guts the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act by defining full-time work at 40 hours a week, from the current 30 hour standard.
  • Yes on H.R.2997 “21st Century AIRR Act:” privatizes the United States Air Traffic Control system by removing it from the control of the Federal Aviation Administration and handing it over to private, for-profit industry.
  • Yes on H.R.2581 “Verify First Act:” prevents people from accessing health care through the Affordable Care Act until their citizenship status has been verified.
  • Yes on H.R.3350 “Keep Your Health Plan Act:” allows insurers to keep offering health plans that do not meet certain minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Yes on H.R.2936 “Resilient Federal Forests Act:” weakens conservation laws and expedites logging and tree thinning in national forests, potentially putting communities at higher risk of fire, flooding and degraded drinking water quality.
  • No on H.C.R.71: House Democratic Caucus substitute for the 2018 Republican budget proposal.
  • Yes on H.R.510: Extends section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the NSA to warrantlessly target people in other countries who are communicating with Americans, and collect the personal communications of those Americans without their knowledge.

There is one more vote that is particularly galling. Ms. Sinema voted yes on H.R.4038, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act,” which prevents Syrian and Iraqi refugees from being resettled in the United States until “tighter vetting processes” can be put in place. Never mind that the current process is already regarded as the “world’s most successful and secure.” Ms. Sinema’s vote demonstrates how thoroughly she has abandoned whatever moral compass she built through her Master of Social Work degree, her Ph.D. in Justice Studies, and her tenure as a former president of the non-profit group Community Outreach & Advocacy for Refugees. That compass seemed fine-tuned to righteous moral indignation in Ms. Sinema’s April 16, 2003, letter to the Arizona Republic, in which she denounced President Bush for trying to involve the U.S. in a war against Syria.

I wonder how long it will take us to invade Syria, kill their civilians, deprive the survivors of food and shelter, destroy their water and electricity systems, plant American flags all over the place and install a U.S. military government — all in the name of freedom?”

Apparently the idea of war-ravaged Syrian refugees is good enough to exploit in a letter to the editor, but their actual existence does not justify giving actual refuge to. Given her political and moral metamorphosis, Ms. Sinema’s Statute of Liberty might now read:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
As long as they don’t cost, an election, to me.”

Keep in mind that Ms. Sinema’s votes are not akin to clicking “like” on Facebook. They are intended to irrevocably alter the lives of millions of flesh-and-blood people around the world. Nobody is forcing her to make life exponentially more difficult for immigrants, disabled Americans, and consumers; she is freely choosing to do so.

At what price the U.S. Senate?

How far are we willing to go? Where do we draw the line separating policies the Democratic Party is willing to abandon, from policies it insists on preserving? Many will draw it at abortion rights, and claim that Ms. Sinema will protect them while (Republican) will imperil them. Yet this argument invites some questions:

  1. How many people is it okay to shit on in order to protect a candidate who claims to favor abortion rights? (Which only the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment – not the U.S. Senate – can ultimately imperil at the national level.)
  2. Considering Ms. Sinema’s track record, which rivals a San Diego beach BBQ for flip-flopping, why would anyone, especially a Democrat, doubleplus a progressive, trust any position she purports to hold?
  3. How long will Ms. Sinema’s pro-choice bona fides survive at a time when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman states that the DCCC will not necessarily withhold financial support from Democratic candidates who oppose abortion rights?

The Democratic Party hinging its support for Ms. Sinema on the basis of her current position on abortion is the Democratic equivalent of a Gorsuch Paradox. Many of us know Republicans who find Donald Trump repugnant in almost every way, but are still glad he won the presidency because he elevated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. How frustrated we get when we try to explain to our Reaganite friends that Gorsuch’s yuge winning-ness will inevitably diminish in the face of Chinese trade wars that will crater our economy, and North Korean missiles that will crater Tokyo and Seoul! We cannot understand how Republicans excuse and forgive so much misogyny, white supremacy, and unbridled stupidity just to pick up one Supreme Court seat. Yet Democrats are supposed to sit still and be quiet when our party asks us to help throw the disabled, immigrants, and refugees under the bus, just to pick up one Senate seat? That’s bullshit. Hypocritical bullshit – the smelliest kind.

(Editor’s note – We need to guard against the creeping influence of Zarzycki’s law, to wit; “As an online progressive criticism of a Democrat grows longer, the probability of a facile comparison involving Jill Stein supporters and/or Bernie Bros approaches 1.”


The Personal

“In politics, nothing is contemptible.” – Benjamin Disraeli

These are treacherous waters. Ms. Sinema is a smart, aggressive, exceptionally ambitious woman. In American men these traits are lauded, and the White House, Capitol Hill, and the Fortune 500 have always been filled with men who possess them. Yet women who follow this well-worn path are labeled shrill and bitchy, excoriated as unfit for public office, and threatened with politico-sexual assault. This kind of sexism is contemptible, and has erected a very real barrier to women succeeding to their rightfully prominent place in American life.

But a jerk is a jerk, regardless of gender. I ran for local office, am a very active Democrat, and have spent countless hours in the company of dozens of candidates and elected officials from the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties. I was less than impressed by many of them. None of them were anywhere near as big a jerk as Ms. Sinema.

I spent five weekends with her. She was one of the lead instructors at a multi-month political training and leadership seminar I attended in 2013-2014. I spent hours listening to Ms. Sinema pontificate on politics, political messaging and — I kid you not — how much she likes Russell Pearce. She was consistently rude and close-minded. During one break I approached her while she was playing a game on her cell phone, and very politely asked her why she voted to undermine the ACA when she voted yes on H.R. 3350, which would have allowed insurers to keep offering health plans that did not meet certain minimum requirements of the ACA. She snapped at me that she didn’t vote to undermine the ACA, said she would talk about her congressional votes when the entire seminar group reconvened, then turned back to her video game, dismissing me. After the break she never said a word about her vote. Ms. Sinema never discussed any of her votes with us. Her focus was readily apparent; win at all costs, climb the political ladder at all costs. Her single, all-encompassing motivation is personal advancement. She could not care less that our democratic republic demands she represent us, advocate for us, and explain her votes to us. She doesn’t give a shit about us. Yet somehow we are supposed to believe that she cares deeply about gun control, poor people, and the environment? We are supposed to take it on faith that this assiduous fundraiser will go to the U.S. Senate and act in the best interests of the disenfranchised and the dispossessed, who will never be able to donate one penny to her next campaign? We are supposed to ignore her execrable voting record and her contemptuous personality, just because she has a (D) next to her name? Remind me again why us Democrats are so upset that the Republican Party lined up behind a self-involved, money-obsessed reality TV star who doesn’t know the difference between the Chicago School and a preschool, just because he put an (R) next to his name?

I’ll wait.


The Psychological

“At least they are better than the Republican candidate!”
– no passionate, dedicated Democratic Party convert, ever.

Democracy is not a “marketplace of ideas.” Modern cognitive science teaches us that voters do not decide which party or candidate to support based on which side lays out the most compelling and comprehensive data set. Reason and knowledge — the head — play a very small role in voting behavior. It is emotion and feeling — the heart and the gut — that rule the day. Drew Westen and George Lakoff have been telling Democrats this for decades, yet we are shockingly — and self-destructively — unwilling to accept it. We rattle off facts and figures about degrees centigrade the oceans will warm in the next century, number of bullets contained in a high-capacity magazine, and dollar amount that working class citizens pay in health insurance premiums that do not cover pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, Republicans talk about “guns, God, and country,” and go on to dominate every branch of the federal government and two-thirds of the states.

If we are serious about digging ourselves out of our electoral pit of despair, we need to field Democratic candidates who understand what people are feeling. Our candidates need to speak to voters’ concerns at an emotional level, and our party needs to support those candidates even at the expense of  incumbents and establishment candidates who are less-capable but have “paid their dues.”

Democrats used to speak from the heart and to the heart. Consider President Johnson’s March 15, 1965, address to Congress, one week after police brutally assaulted Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights advocates during their march in Selma, Alabama:

I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy.

I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.

At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.

There, long-suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many were brutally assaulted. One good man, a man of God, was killed.

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our democracy in what is happening here tonight.

For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government – the government of the greatest nation on earth.

Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country: to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man.”

Consider also Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remarks to the U.N.’s “4th World Conference on Women” plenary session in Beijing on September 5, 1995:

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.

It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution for human greed – and the kinds of reasons that are used to justify this practice should no longer be tolerated.

It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire, and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.

It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.

It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes by their own relatives.

It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation.

It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”

Now compare Ms. Sinema’s September 28, 2017 video announcing her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Ms. Sinema makes it clear from the very beginning that this election will be about her. In her three minute and twenty second video she says “I” twenty-four times, “my” six times, and “me” four times.

When talking about why she is running for Senate, Ms. Sinema’s answer is the worst kind of emotionless, non-controversial, professional political consultant-speak.

I want to do more for my country. I have the chance to change things, and help Arizonans every day. Whether it’s a veteran who can’t get his benefits, a widow who needs social security, a businessman who is struggling with red tape, or parents worried their kids won’t have a better life than they have, I get to help people solve their problems. What a privilege.”

That is not inspirational leadership. That is not speaking to the hearts of Americans, or connecting with them on an emotional level. Ms. Sinema says not a word about our hopes and dreams, other than paying lip-service to the “American dream” of success through “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” which is itself a profound lie and an insult to the millions of American still suffering from the devastation of the Great Recession.

Ms. Sinema is studiously silent on human rights, civil rights, and advancing the causes of liberty and justice for all. She makes no mention of gun violence, foreign wars, chronic unemployment, or environmental peril. She shows no interest in the challenges faced by people of color, the LGBTQ community, or the millions of Americans subject to mass incarceration.

Per the only text featured in the entire video, the themes of her campaign are, “Real Life Experience,” “Personal Responsibility,” “Duty to Country,” and “Change Washington.” This is cookie-cutter pablum of the first order, meaningless phraseology that has been exhaustively focus-grouped to ensure it is not the least bit controversial or objectionable to anyone. It means nothing and stands for nothing, and has zero emotional impact. It is the polar opposite of:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

and,

True patriotism springs from a belief in the dignity of the individual, freedom and equality not only for Americans but for all people on earth, universal brotherhood and good will, and a constant and earnest striving toward the principles and ideals on which this country was founded.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Ms. Sinema speaks to no values, “hard work” being not a value but a habit. She goes out of her way not to emotionally engage her audience, save for an attempt to make herself relatable by speaking about her impoverished childhood. However, she doesn’t dare talk about poverty, let alone poor people. Ms. Sinema has no ideas, no bold plans, and does not seem to be bothered by our current existential political crisis, other than the vague statement, “Our nation is facing a lot of problems right now, but we can fix these problems if we work together.”

Before we forgive Ms. Sinema her many political and psychological trespasses on the grounds that it is only a three minute and twenty second announcement video in which she must be brief, we need to remember that brevity does not demand vapidness. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was 272 words long, and took under three minutes to deliver. Even more importantly, Ms. Sinema is her own person, and her own candidate. No one forced her to spend two-thirds of her announcement talking only about herself. No one forced her to remain silent about the endless array of social, economic, and political issues facing our country. She made those choices.

In her defense, they were honest choices. Ms. Sinema, and far too many Democratic candidates like her, have no interest in speaking to and channeling the hopes and dreams of the American people. They do not want to propose clear, inspirational policies that might help solve our country’s problems, such as universal background checks, single payer health care, or a new New Deal, because that would cost them votes and maybe ultimately their jobs. Thus comes the crux of the matter. At the end of the day Ms. Sinema’s political, personal, and psychological choices reveal her to be nothing more than a careerist. She will change any view, take any vote, and sacrifice any cause upon the altar of her own advancement.

“But she’s still better than (Republican)!”

Okay. Sure. For now. However even if, despite her myriad shortcomings, Ms. Sinema is and will always be “better” than the Republican candidate, the Democratic Party still faces two foundational questions:

  1. Does our party exist to elect self-identified Democrats to office, or does it exist to elect people who hold and act upon democratic values to office?
  2. Does our party really expect to regain political control of the state and the country with the message, “Vote for Democrats, because they are not Republicans?”

That is our party’s message to the American people every time it runs a Kyrsten Sinema for public office. Cognitive science proves that this an absolutely terrible message, and does not win elections. If it did, you would not be reading this in Trump’s America. How different would our country and our party be if we spoke to the hearts and souls of the American people? How much brighter would our party’s future be if Democrats talked to the American people like this;

The hour has come to remind ourselves, and the rest of the world, that we are Americans. The hour has come to remind ourselves, and the rest of the world, that America is the land of the free, and the home of the brave. We will not do this by barring refugees from our shores, or imprisoning and beating and murdering our African-American citizens, or launching unending foreign wars. We will not do this by using taxes to line the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poor, or allowing our factories and roads and bridges to crumble into dust to appease Wall Street.

The hour has come to proclaim that we have no need to make America great again, because the greatness of our people has never waned. It has always beat in the hearts of immigrants, who brave scorching deserts to labor in our fields and our homes while our culture demeans and vilifies them. It has always flowed through the veins of waitresses and carpenters and janitors, who break their backs to support their children at minimum wage and without health care.

The hour has come to reinvigorate the American Dream. This is not a false promise that all will be well if you just try harder, but a solemn vow that we are all in this together. We are only as free and only as rich as the least fortunate among us, and whatsoever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to ourselves.

The hour has come to make peace with other nations, protect our children from guns, and clean up our planet. The hour has come to wrestle our government away from professional politicians, and give it back to the people. The hour has come to resume our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, and rejoice in the fact that regardless of color or creed or class, we are all Americans.”


Epilogue

“Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains ’round
the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare.” – Percy Shelley

Everyday seems to bring news that is worse than the day before. Mass shootings, war, unemployment, government-sanctioned white supremacy, environmental degradation. No person of reason can argue with a straight face that the social, economic, political, or environmental trend lines are positive. If the Democratic Party keeps excusing and supporting candidates like Ms. Sinema, in the hope that their election will somehow lead to a progressive political revolution the next election, or the next next election, we will proceed head-first into the abyss. If we do not today revolutionize our party and our politics, then one day soon the next election will be our last.

– Joel Feinman