Brawl between Arizona Republicans makes the fist-fight between Kardashian sisters look tame

Move over Tiger King. There's a new reality show in town that's even more outrageous than an exotic cat owner's murder-for-hire scheme.

I call this “show" the Real Politicians of Arizona because, just like the “Housewives" series, there's plenty of back-biting, sensationalized drama and questionable fashion choices.

Taking center-stage in this made-for-TV reality are Republican gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake and Matt Salmon. Their real-life bickering over who's the Trumpiest in all the land makes the fist-fight between the Kardashian sisters look tame.

Who's most likely to imprison their political opponents or spend millions more on another partisan recount?

With Lake securing Trump's endorsement, she's the current fan fave.

But we can't (unfortunately) forget Republican Mark Brnovich. He's in a battle royale with his other Senate candidates over who hates migrants more, who's best at undermining life-saving vaccines, and who will kill the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, it's not just Republicans in the spotlight. Arizona is also home to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who keeps her constituents guessing about where she stands on, well, everything — but makes headlines for her fashionable accessories, like her colorful wigs and her famous F– Off ring.

And while it may be tempting to curl up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and watch these reality star wannabes tweet their way into office, I'm hoping voters will take a short break from the theatrics and consider something less entertaining but much more consequential: American democracy.

Much has been said about Trump's attempted political coup and Republicans' ongoing flirtation with fascism, but this article in the Washington Post by columnist Robert Kagan is the most detailed one I've read about why rational Americans have reason to fear for our country's future.

Kagan argues that our nation isn't heading for a constitutional crisis — we're already in one.

Republican officials and conservative media outlets and advocacy organizations who tried to convince the American people that Trump wasn't that bad or that he'd govern responsibly when surrounded by seasoned politicians have been proven wrong. They cannot calm Trump's basest desires.

Worse yet, these same apologists have shown their own willingness to defy constitutional and democratic norms to keep him (and, by extension, themselves) in power.

This became crystal clear in the days and weeks after January 6, when a violent coup attempt that resulted in the deaths of five police officers and injuries to 140 more was spun into some kind of peaceful and patriotic demonstration.

And if Republicans are willing to ignore an insurrection, what will they be willing to do if Donald Trump wins the presidency in 2024, which is a very real possibility?

As Kagan correctly notes, our republic will not stand if only one political party fights for its existence. We need elected Republicans willing to sacrifice their political futures in order to save our country.

Here in Arizona, most of the Republican candidates for statewide and national office have already thrown in the towel on civic virtue, choosing idolization of Trump and personal ambition instead.

But there are a handful of Republicans who have had the courage to stand up to the Big Lie and our country's free-fall toward fascism.

Republicans on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer haven't simply refused to forward a lie or cast doubt on the integrity of our elections. Some of them are actively working to convince their fellow Republicans to do the same.

Supervisor Bill Gates and Richer took part in a recent video campaign with a group called the Republican Accountability Project. The video hasn't garnered nearly as much attention as some of Kari Lake's staged political stunts have, which is a shame because these Republicans — and their message — need to be heard.

When Republican officials stand united against Trump's lies, they give other Republican officials the courage to do the same. They will not be able to change the hearts and minds of the loyal MAGA crowd, but they just might cause enough voters who are on the fence to stop and think about what's real and what's simply made-for-TV reality.

Every sane American should applaud and support these Republicans because they may be our only hope to bring this country back from the edge.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

If Kyrsten Sinema wants to be a bridge-builder, she should start with her own party

There is likely no other Democrat that has taken more fire from her party this last year than Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema.

Sinema won the ire of progressives because of her insistence on preserving an archaic Senate rule that has historically been used to hamper civil rights: the filibuster. Democrats fear the filibuster will prevent any hope of passing major election reforms. Reforms needed because of the continued assault on voting rights in conservative states across the country, including Arizona.

I've taken a swing at Sinema, as well, commenting on more than one occasion that real mavericks don't simply say “no" to their party, they get stuff done.

Sinema has the potential to put a huge feather in her cap and show naysayers like myself and other progressives that Congress isn't broken, and bipartisanship is possible on some issues, such as the infrastructure bill she helped craft and shepherd through the first stages of congressional approval.

Should the infrastructure bill pass, Sinema will reap (deservedly so) huge kudos. But should it fail, her legacy (and her chances at reelection) will take a hit. That's why I'm so mystified by her willingness to play hardball with her fellow Democrats on the reconciliation bill and potentially toss all of it — reconciliation AND infrastructure — in the trash.

This week, Sinema was reported as telling President Biden she will vote against the reconciliation bill if the infrastructure bill fails or does not receive its promised Sept. 27 vote in the House.

Sinema pointed out that an up or down vote was promised by that day, and leadership needs to hold firm to that commitment. But Sinema has unnecessarily complicated the passage of both bills because of her vague opposition to the price tag of the reconciliation bill and her sudden opposition to the prescription drug pricing plan, a major part of the bill.

For as long as I can remember, Democrats have been united in their insistence on lowering prescription drug costs for seniors. The plan is hugely popular with Americans, and for good reason. We pay significantly more for prescription drugs than many other countries because we refuse to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Dems have a plan to change that and save billions of dollars in the process, but Sinema, for reasons she has refused to detail, is opposed. One can only assume her opposition has something to do with the fact that she is a favorite among pharmaceutical companies, raking in nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions during the last election cycle. Or, perhaps, that a recent ad campaign on her behalf may have swayed her.

If Dems cannot recoup the savings from a prescription drug pricing overhaul, they'll lose their ability to pay for expanded Medicare coverage for vision, hearing and dental, another popular and far-reaching proposal.

Progressive Dems are adamant in their refusal to consider the infrastructure bill if they cannot receive assurances from Senators Sinema and Joe Manchin they will not torpedo the reconciliation bill, which leaves Congress, once again, at an impasse.

But they're not solely at an impasse because of differences between the two parties. Rather, this is an intra-party stalemate.

Dems could pass both bills, but egos and bare-knuckle politics are standing in the way. And if Democrats cannot pass major legislation on issues they've long promised to tackle while they control both houses of Congress plus the presidency, why would voters continue to believe they should be in power?

This party dysfunction will reverberate in 2022, when Dems face an uphill battle to preserve their majorities in both the House and the Senate. But it also has the potential to harm Democrats in statewide and local races.

Political consultants used to say that “all politics are local." But that has changed over the last several years to “all politics are national." Polarization has made it increasingly difficult to separate D.C. politics from AZ politics — and even school board politics.

Sinema seems to be making a gamble she's better off politically if both bills fail rather than succeed. I believe that's a foolish bet, and I worry her wager will undercut the campaigns of other Arizona Democrats.

If she's concerned about her legacy, she'll put aside her ego and work not just across the aisle, but within it. Be a consensus builder for Dems, especially when momentous, life-changing policy is on the line.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

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