Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Weller: The Woman Who May Have Saved The Republic

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

I first started reading the Dune novels in my teens. The amazing works by Frank Herbert had the most profound effect of any work of fiction on my nascent, developing brain.

The stories are epic. The far-distant future universe he created is strange and wonderful. The characters are deep and tortured.

Somehow, like Tolkien before him, Mr. Herbert masterfully weaves in profound commentary on political philosophy and current affairs of the 1960s, when the first novels were written.

Even a young teen like myself, who was easy to hop into the stories as I was about Paul Atreides’ age), could see the parallels between the Dune spice and Middle East oil and between the Atreides-Harkonnen age-old conflict and the US-USSR animosity.

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Like all great fiction, the settings of the novel give Mr. Herbert free rein to comment on the frailty of the post-Cold War Order. 

Here is but one of innumerable examples of the political wisdom of Mr. Herbert (from Children of Dune):

Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.

One of the major events in the first Dune novel (and the brilliant adaptation – though a bit slow – by Denis Villeneuve in 2021) centers on the test of the gom jabbar. The main character – Paul Atreides (who we later learn is the product of a millennia-long breeding program to create a superhuman able to see the future) – is extremely powerful and thus dangerous; he must be tested. The test involves placing his hand into a machine which creates ever increasing amounts of pain. At the same time, a deadly poisoned needle – the gom jabbar – is placed at his neck. If he removes his hand to avoid the pain, he will be killed instantly by the poisoned needle.

The test determines if the subject is human. Most animals would naw their leg off to avoid the pain of a trap, and a human who can not control his deepest impulses would do the same. In order for Paul to prove he is human and capable of denying current pleasure or pain for future positives, he must submit to tremendous amounts of pain. This is what it means to be a well-adjusted human being in this world, and Paul Atreides (with his tremendous potential for power) must be shown to be such a thing, or he can not be allowed to continue in the world.

Here is Mr. Herbert once again, explaining the concept another way (from Dune):

The Fremen were supreme in that quality the ancients called “spannungsbogen” — which is the self-imposed delay between desire for a thing and the act of reaching out to grasp that thing.

How many politicians in today’s Washington would be able to pass a less lethal version of the gom jabbar test? How many of them would be willing to accept suffering and defeat in their political careers in order to protect vitally important tenets of our Republic for the future of the country?

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I can only think of two, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. They faced the gom jabbar and chose the pain.

Just two years ago, the country was at another impasse that seemed at the time able to split the country in two. At issue was the Democrats Voting Rights Bill, which was supported by all 51 Democrats and 0 Republicans in the Senate. Attempts were made by Democrats to end the filibuster (which essentially requires 60 Senators to agree before most legislation can pass the Senate) – the so-called “nuclear option,” to get their Voting Rights Bill passed. As above, they understood that the most important issue for power is the method of choosing leaders, and wanted to tip the scale in their party’s direction. It was made clear at the time that a vote against the nuclear option by any Democrat would spell trouble for their political future, and it did. Manchin and Sinema, at least in this case, stood by their principles and voted against destroying the filibuster and against the entire Senate Democratic caucus.

Democrats around the country were outraged. Senator Sinema was harassed everywhere she went, even famously being followed into a public rest room to be vilified. It became so difficult that the Senator left the Democratic Party that same year, declaring herself an Independent, caucusing with the Democrats a la Bernie Sanders. It wasn’t enough. The Democratic Party is running another candidate to replace her, and yesterday Ms. Sinema was forced to announce her resignation from the Senate and the end of her bid to remain the senior Senator from Arizona. Mr. Manchin, facing similar bad odds of re-election in West Virginia, is also retiring from the Senate.

This story underlines a hard truth we must all come to grips with – there are no humans in Washington. Any one who acts to sacrifice the current needs of their political party are either eaten alive or forced out by the natives. These animals live and thrive on the exorbitant riches available to indulge their deepest carnal needs, damn everything else to hell. They create massive debts, deficits and inflation while solving no problems and enriching themselves, political elites and the donor classes.

Read: Weller: Eric Holder’s Shameful War Propaganda

The filibuster may be the greatest tool invented by American politicians. Combined with the bicameral nature of our Congress, it ensures that questions must be asked of every new piece of legislation, including “are we sure this is a great idea? Can we afford this?

What are the unintended consequences that may arise?” Together, the long terms of Senators (6 years) and the filibuster lessen the chaos that we might have otherwise. In a Parliamentary system that has neither, there is a tendency to ratchet policies back and forth with each new election. Imagine if we ended the conservative rules of electing Senators and their ability to slow legislation, a hot button issue like abortion could change with each election. Democrats in, abortion legal. Republicans in, abortion illegal. That is no way to run a nation, and the filibuster is an integral part of the smart, deliberate design of our legislative process.

Importantly, the same day Ms. Sinema announced her resignation, Senator Warren was quoted by Politico as saying, “It’s time to get rid of the filibuster. The filibuster has been anti-Democratic and has done a whole lot more harm than good.” And her reasoning to ditch the century-old protector from mob mentality politics? Blame Republicans, of course. “If [Republicans] have legislation they wanted to pass. And the filibuster stood in the way? The filibuster would be toast. It’s total politics.” Indeed.

Ms Sinema, in announcing her resignation, demonstrates what happens to leaders who vote their conscience to preserve the best aspects of our Republic in today’s Washington. They are summarily destroyed by the creatures of Washington, the partisan power centers – the animals who would taste the gom jabbar’s poison were they ever put to the test.

For the country, we offer our condolences to Ms. Sinema’s political career, and the thanks of a grateful nation.

Justin Weller is the Founder and Editor of The Country, and host of the podcast The Country with Justin Weller. Prior, he was a general manager and sales leader in startup and Big Tech firms, interned on Capitol Hill, and was a Contributing Editor at This piece is republished from The Country

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Tampa Free Press.

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