After she was censured by the Arizona Republican Party on Saturday, Cindy McCain said she would wear it “as a badge of honor.” While Ms. McCain considers herself extraordinary and worthy of an honor, censure is certainly not extraordinary.
In fact, censure is a common tool used by political parties as a means of punishment for various degrees of political misbehavior. Without censure, or at least the threat of it, political parties would have few devices to keep regular order and loyalty.
The Arizona Republican Party’s decision to censure McCain, former Senator Jeff Flake and Governor Doug Ducey for real or perceived acts of disloyalty to the Party did little more than to serve as fodder for liberal media outlets. The journalists-turned-activists exploited the censures to portray Republicans as intolerant and the Party as one torn by in-fighting.
One of the best explanations came from Obama. He said that most of the supposedly “vicious fighting” between the establishment wings of the 2 parties is just theater, for public consumption.
Those factions play with each other “within the 40 yard lines”:https://t.co/qfeOqG7UAB
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 21, 2021
However, independent journalist Glenn Greenwald reminded us recently of a comment former President Barack Obama made about in-fighting. “He said that most of the supposedly “vicious fighting” between the establishment wings of the 2 parties is just theater, for public consumption. Those factions play with each other “within the 40-yard lines.”
In the case of McCain and Flake, they did not play within the “40-yard lines.” They actually scored for the other team.
Just this past spring, Democrats in Detroit unanimously censured a lawmaker merely for giving President Trump credit for her COVID-19 recovery.
Democrats plan to censure lawmaker who credited Trump for COVID-19 recovery
From the Detroit News:
State Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, broke protocol by meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during an April 14 meeting of COVID-19 survivors, during which she credited hydroxychloroquine for saving her life, a Democratic district leader said.
“Thank you for everything that you have done,” Whitsett told Trump at the meeting. “I did not know that saying thank you had a political line. … I’m telling my story and my truth, and this how I feel, and these are my words.”
Trump appeared to offer his support for the state representative late Thursday, tweeting, “Disgraceful. (Whitsett) Should join the Republican Party!”
In 2019, Senator Kyrsten Sinema barely avoided censure by Arizona Democrats at their annual mandatory state party meeting.
From the Arizona Republic:
“Progressives’ efforts to punish Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for voting at times with Republicans died unceremoniously Saturday, but the issue could return early next year.
At an Arizona Democratic Party meeting, the resolutions committee unanimously recommended tabling the notion of formally censuring Sinema, D-Ariz., either by solely progressives or the state party as a whole. Co-chairs of the party’s resolution committee said during their huddle in a cramped classroom at Prescott Mile High Middle School that the Progressive Caucus requested to delay any action to censure Sinema until January 2020.”
Sinema might have gotten a pass, but other Democrats have suffered much harsher fates than censure and for far less.
Take the case of former TUSD Board Member Mark Stegeman. He was punished for supporting a Republican in a nonpartisan race, unlike Flake and McCain who championed the other party’s nominee.
From the Tucson Weekly:
It was just a matter of time. TUSD school board member Mark Stegeman, who had his Precinct Committeeman status with the Democratic Party taken away because he actively supported Republican candidates (it’s a violation of the bylaws) has declared himself an Independent. From his Facebook page:
I have changed my voter registration status to Independent. I appreciate all of my friends in the Democratic Party and have not changed my views on issues, but too much of the internal party discussion revolves around personalities and purely partisan issues instead of the policy choices that form the reason for the party.
Just to be clear, Stegeman could have kept his Democratic Party registration, but he could no longer serve as an elected officer—precinct committeeman is an elected position—of the Democratic Party. Becoming an Independent was purely his choice.
Stegeman contributed $1,200 to the TUSD school board campaign of Republican Debe Campos-Fleenor, and possibly an unspecified amount to Michael Hicks’ campaign, to pay for someone to circulate nominating petitions. When I looked over the petitions the two campaigns submitted, I found he collected signatures for both candidates as well.
Democrat Vernon Jones was censured, just like McCain and Flake, for supporting a presidential candidate from the opposing party.
From the Detroit News:
After consulting with respective leadership teams, the Chairs of both the DeKalb County Democratic Committee (DCDC), John Jackson, and the Rockdale County Democratic Committee (RCDC), Cheryl Miles Board are denouncing the State Representative from District 91 for his recent endorsement of President Trump for re-election. The House District 91 Rep has identified himself as a Democrat and was elected to his current position as a Democrat. It is the expectation that members of the party follow Bylaws and not undermine Democrats by endorsing the opposition.
Maricopa County Republican Committee rules bar precinct committeemen from backing “non-Republican” candidates. On Saturday, the same rule was adopted by the state party.
If the parties have the rules, they should enforce them. If the media, and the likes of media opportunists like Cindy McCain and Jeff Flake want to use them for personal or political benefit, we can’t help that.