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One image that many Arizonans and Americans have seen this week on television and online speaks volumes about what is wrong with today’s extremist politics. That is activists pursuing and recording Sen. Kyrsten Sinema at Arizona State University, including a view outside a restroom stall. And any reasonable person knows that was wrong.

Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both moderate Democrats, have been the center of attention because they have stood in the way of a $3.5 trillion spending binge in the Democratic-controlled Senate and also opposed killing the traditional filibuster, which now requires finding some Republican votes for non-budget legislation. The resulting split in their party does not seem to be near resolution.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes some of the normal funding that goes to roads and bridges plus support for other projects, has been held up because progressives are demanding that the gigantic bill pass at the same time. The moderates, including Sinema, had been promised a vote on their package, but deadlines for that have come and gone. The latest promise from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is by Halloween.

Sinema has been compared to an earlier “maverick,” the late Republican Sen. John McCain, who sometimes bucked his party to vote with the other side, something that used to be more common in Congress. If that tradition were renewed, Americans likely would have a higher opinion of Congress. Sinema, however, by no means is getting the same appreciation from Democrats that McCain did.

Sinema no doubt has gained respect from some Arizonans who did not vote for her. She knows that a straight progressive line is not a winner in Arizona, but her independent streak also seems to be just who she is. And even those criticizing her might eventually realize that her refusal to support a spending blowout helps protect the value of the dollar. Inflation already is hurting American working people, and it could be much worse.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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