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The necessity of party-poopery


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It’s easy to find things to critique about the two-party system in these United States. From “being out of touch with the electorate” to “enriching themselves with a false dichotomy,” there are all sorts of ways one can credibly squint angrily at the political establishment. However, one aspect of the two-party system that is most despised yet proves one of the best parts of its structure is that of the party-pooping moderates on either side unraveling the written delusions of their peers. 

Kyrsten Sinema’s rejection of the Democrats’ asinine $3.5 trillion bill is the most recent example of this necessary fissuring. Four years ago, it was John McCain pointing his thumb downwards as he derailed the GOP’s half-baked effort to unmake Obamacare. I don’t know what’s in Arizona’s water, but it seems to develop prodigious backbones among its senators. 

Because of her stand, Sinema is now experiencing all sorts of pressure and harassment from the Left. Perhaps the grossest manifestation of her persecution was when she was followed into the bathroom by activists harping about how they campaigned for her. I’m not one for putting people in the stocks, but bathroom-stalking makes a stronger case than most for a few well-placed tomatoes being necessary to knock civility into these squawking shrikes.  

Musings about medieval punishments aside, what folks like Sinema and McCain provide to their respective parties should be celebrated. While we may think about parties as largely ideologically cohesive, the nature of the Senate often has office-holders who survive elections because they are moderate enough that a Republican majority will continue to vote for a Democrat despite a rout of any other Dem in the state — Joe Manchin in West Virginia, for instance. Dems might bemoan Manchin’s occasional equivocation, but progressives like Elizabeth Warren and AOC would never get elected in West Virginia. Manchin is the best-case scenario, with any successor almost guaranteed to have an ‘R’ by their name.  

Republicans gripe and moan about RINOs — “Republicans in Name Only” — like Susan Collins. Their begrudging of her squishiness is foolish, as she’s the most conservative option coming out of Maine. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio-esque conservatives would not win there; only a very moderate Republican could hope to hold that seat. By my lights, better to have an R who votes with the party 75 percent of the time than a D who defies any conservative legislation outside of union bailouts.   

The two-party system will often have members representing diverse peoples and locations to whom they must answer. To quote Generic Sociology Student #4, “Everything belongs on a spectrum.” Texas Republicans and California Democrats should realize that other states have vastly varied political landscapes, and show an ability to accept intraparty compromise. Sinema is doing her job under intense pressure and I commend her for it.  

Maybe Dems will end up only spending $2.5 trillion… our grandchildren’s tax burden will be so grateful for the generous reprieve. Agree? Disagree? Let me know at abell@lawrence.edu or flame me on Twitter @lutherabel1.