Once you watch Arizona congressman Ruben Gallego’s announcement video for his Senate run (embedded below), you’ll probably reach the same conclusion I did: Kyrsten Sinema truly better watch out – because this guy is tough, determined, and endearing.
It is powerful, comes off as heartfelt, and is honestly inspiring, especially since he wisely does not shy away from talking about the rough parts of his life – from growing up poor and losing friends serving in Iraq, to suffering through PTSD.
He also has a tremendously moving story: the son of a single, immigrant mother, he worked his way into Harvard, then decided to join the military to defend the country he loves.
This is truly a Lincoln-esque rags-to-riches tale.
Now, I know we’re living in a cynical, Donald Trump/George Santos world, with a political landscape filled with liars, fakers, and self-aggrandizers.
But unlike Ms. Sinema, who is busy hobnobbing at Davos and selling designer clothes online, Gallego comes off as a down-to-earth father and husband who understands what it means to have to struggle.
Heck, he even uses the same skillet to cook his family pancakes that I do.
At this point, of course, practically anyone seems preferable to Senator Sinema (or perhaps it should be “Senator Cinema”).
I myself would vote for Tickle Me Elmo before her, if I could.
But Gallego is a truly excellent alternative, and Democrats seem to be uniting behind him.
Yet there is a danger here as well.
Sinema has successfully sabotaged things in a way that may hand victory over to a Republican, which could affect the balance of power in the Senate.
The 2024 Arizona Senate race, in fact, is a good example of one of the major, major flaws of our “first-past-the-post” system.
If you’ll forgive me, dear reader, I have to get a little political sciencey for a moment (though the term itself is flawed, since politics is more art than science).
In the US, we have what’s known as a majoritarian first-past-the-post, or FPTP, system.
That means that whoever gets a plurality of the vote for many races – including senator in most states – gets the position, even if that person only wins a minority of the total vote.
If there was a three-way race in Arizona, for instance, between Sinema (Independent), Gallego (Democrat), and, say, Kari Lake (Lunatic), and Sinema got 32%, Gallego 33%, and Lake 35%, Arizona would get a lunatic senator, even though 65% of Arizonans voted against her and she would likely lose in a heads-up match against either candidate.
This type of voting system is considered responsible for something known as “Duverger’s Law,” which states that when there is a majoritarian, FPTP system, we wind up with just two parties because no other ideology can garner enough support to compete.
In proportional representation systems – used very effectively throughout the world – smaller parties can win seats by winning small percentages of the vote, and can grow in time to become major parties, leading to a greater diversity of ideas.
Other countries use systems that ensure a candidate who wins is the preferred choice of the majority of people.
France, for instance, has runoffs to avoid this problem.
Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia use ranked-choice voting, which transfers a voter’s preference to another candidate once their first choice has been eliminated in a previous round.
It’s a bit more time-consuming, but much more democratic and much more efficient in terms of accurately representing voter preferences.
In the US, only Georgia and Louisiana have runoffs, while Alaska and Maine have versions of ranked-choice voting.
A number of cities and counties, including New York City, have also embraced ranked-choice.
But the other 48 states still use FPTP – that major flaw that would allow someone like Lake to sneak into the Senate through the back door.
The same problem exists, of course, for presidential elections, wherein a candidate simply needs to win a majority of the Electoral College, but can slide in with only a plurality of the popular vote – the only vote that should matter (mind you, no other country has an Electoral College either – an archaic system that diverts us from the popular will).
I thank you for permitting that academic digression.
Getting back to Ms. Sinema: She’s going to try to appeal to independent and centrist Democratic voters in Arizona, a significant portion of whom might split their votes between her and Mr. Gallego, which could allow for a Lake or a Blake Masters (at least as bad as Lake) to win with a united Republican vote.
This is where Rob Reiner comes in.
Rob, we need you to do your thing and offer Kyrsten Sinema a job as costume designer for one of your productions.
Meathead – and I use the term with great affection, of course – we need you to step in and fix this.
Let Kyrsten be the costume person on one of your sets and she’ll immediately quit politics.
Let her go wild, designing all sorts of elaborate get-ups.
She’ll love it, and you’d be doing the entire country a huge favor.
And then we can get Ruben in the Senate.
Once you watch the video below, you’ll see why we need him.
Growing up poor, all I had was the American dream. It kept me going: as a kid sleeping on the floor, a student scrubbing toilets, a Marine losing brothers in Iraq.
Today, too many Arizonans see their dream slipping away. I’m running for the U.S. Senate to win it back for you! pic.twitter.com/ofUvUYRcTP
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) January 23, 2023
What do you say, Rob?
Are ya in?
Meathead is probably scratching his head because of how much of a loon Ross is, but you can still follow him on Twitter by clicking on @RossRosenfeld.