The Losing Art of Battle

When it comes to left-wing politics here in Ari-bama, liberals can either resign themselves to being doormats for their Republican counterparts or grow a set of dukes and learn to use ’em. Sadly, many local Dems see the wisdom of the welcome mat, including assistant state House minority leader Kyrsten Sinema, whose new book Unite and Conquer: How to Build Coalitions That Win and Last is all about forming alliances and reaching out to reactionaries like state Senator Russell Pearce “from a place of friendship instead of antagonism.” Throw in some deep breathing exercises and New Age-y platitudes like “Letting go of the bear and picking up the Buddha,” and you’ve got the Tao of Pooh for local lefties.

If Sinema’s Stuart Smalley strategy worked, she and her fellow Arizona Dems would be in the legislative majority. Ironically, Sinema cites two major victories in the book: helping defeat the 2006 gay-marriage ban and keeping Ward Connerly’s anti-affirmative action initiative off the 2008 ballot. Alas, Sinema’s book doesn’t explain how the 2006 victory morphed into defeat when a 2008 gay-marriage ban won. As for the Connerly initiative, it’ll be on the ballot in 2010, placed there by our Republican legislature.

There’s something to be said for mastering different styles of combat, but at the end of the day, politics is still the art of battle. And losing has serious implications for real people. Let’s hope some of those real people challenge Sinema’s political philosophy when she chats up the new book at Changing Hands Bookstore.

Fri., July 17, 7 p.m., 2009


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