Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is driving her party absolutely bonkers. For publicly joining her fellow Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, in opposing a $3.5 trillion social-welfare package passionately desired by the party’s progressives, the first-term senator from Arizona has become an object of intense loathing on the left.
Mother Jones wants you to know that some people who also usually donate money to Republicans have given her campaign contributions. A home-state columnist thinks she’s been paid off with campaign contributions by pharmaceutical companies to oppose the package. New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait seems to agree, observing that because she opposes the spending plan backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, “[h]er positions line up closely with what wealthy lobbyists desire.” Dana Milbank of the Washington Post likened her to a disturbed man detained after a standoff with police near the Capitol. Michelle Cottle of the New York Times says Sinema should probably leave the party altogether.
While Manchin certainly gets plenty of blowback for his refusals, there seems to be a more intense—more vicious—quality to the attacks on Sinema. It may have something to do with her being a woman, and an openly bisexual woman at that. Expectations among activists for a young female senator are probably different from those for an older male. Some of it probably has to do with where she’s from. President Biden ran 20 points better in Arizona than he did in West Virginia, and Arizona is seen as the new frontier for Democrats. That all no doubt makes her more of a traitor in the eyes of intense partisans than Manchin could ever be. But the biggest difference is probably that they figure it might work on her.