One Small Voice: Sinema’s critics crossed decency line

by Lynn Mandaville

Kyrsten Sinema is one of my United States senators.

She has been in the news far too often in the last few months because, as a Democrat, she has stood in the way of smooth passage of legislation that some Democrats believe should have had smooth sailing through the legislative process.

Specifically, Sinema has not fallen into lock step with President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for nearly one million young immigrants who were brought to the US outside of normal, legal channels, when they were children.

Sinema has also defended the filibuster (which she has erroneously claimed is a Constitutionally sanctioned strategy), which has become a stumbling block to passing several of Biden’s pet initiatives, such as the infrastructure bills and voting rights legislation.

We in our house believed that Sinema was a good choice for the senate when she ran against Martha McSally to replace Jeff Flake in 2018.  She represented a few of the stances we felt were important.

She was an advocate for LGBTQ causes and rights.  She has been considered a moderate Democrat, which we saw as a plus.  She had also been a member of the Green Party which indicated she promoted issues related to the environment, climate change, and protecting our national parks and monuments.

In the ensuing two and a half years, however, Sinema has become a disappointment to many of her supporters.  The degree of disappointment has covered quite a range of disparagement among her constituents.

About a week ago now, Sinema was in the news because she had been hounded by a member of Latino organization LUCHA.  This young woman, a DACA recipient, followed Sinema into a restroom at Arizona State University (where Sinema teaches and is a guest lecturer) in an attempt to initiate dialogue with her about DACA issues.

The incident raised national attention because the behavior of the young woman appeared to cross a line of civil discourse and acceptable behavior.

I am one of those people who, despite being a passionate supporter of a pathway to citizenship for DACA immigrants, landed on the side of those who decried the behavior of the LUCHA women.

I do sympathize with the LUCHA woman.  She told reporters that she had been unable to leave the country when her grandfather was dying because of her tenuous situation as a DACA “child.”  It was personally traumatic for her not to be able to be with family at such an emotionally critical time.

In addition to her sorrow, this young woman also felt betrayed by Sinema (for whom she had campaigned in 115-degree heat, going door to door drumming up support and soliciting financial contributions) for not working harder for DACA legislation, and for being unavailable to hear the complaints and concerns of her constituents.

It was these two things that drove her to follow Sinema into the ladies’ room at ASU, accompanied by companions who carried both cameras and microphones.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema

Senator Kyrsten Sinema

However, in spite of my sympathies, I was really upset by the gall it took to lead this young woman to do something I felt was beyond the pale.

In our house a week ago we were deeply divided over this seemingly trivial matter.  My husband and son were of the mind that Sinema deserved this type of harassment due to her unavailability.  To quote the LUCHA woman:

“Senator Sinema has ignored us and all the people who fought hardest to elect her for years.  She’s denied our requests, ignored our phone calls, and closed her office to her constituents.  She hasn’t had a public event or town hall in years.  No one wants to meet with their senator in the restroom.  But it seems like there’s a price tag of several hundred thousand dollars to meet with her anywhere else.”

I, on the other hand, felt that a very clear line had been crossed.  No one, no matter how emotionally distressed , has the right to invade another person’s privacy to the extent that she invades the privacy of the toilet.

Remember, I’m not pleased with Ms. Sinema’s performance as my senator.  She has shown herself to be other than the representative I thought she would be when I contributed to her campaign and voted for her.

But no disappointment, no disagreement with political stance, no outrage over unavailability gives a person the right to dispense with the common decency to grant privacy when one is heeding the call of nature.

Some have claimed that Sinema was using the restroom as an avenue of escape to further avoid confrontation by her public.  Video of the encounter indicates, however, that Sinema gave the woman cause to believe she would talk to her when she was finished in the restroom.  Sinema was heard on tape to say, “I’ll be right back out.”

After the invasion of her privacy inside the bathroom, where the young woman continued her harangue on audio and video, Sinema did not engage with her.

And I don’t blame her.

Sinema had no obligation to meet with someone who was so crass as to harass her while she performed one of our most basic and private functions.

According to privacy laws that were quoted by the press about Sinema’s rights within the confines of the ladies’ room, this young woman was legally out of bounds when she trailed Sinema into the restroom with recording equipment in hand.

Sinema would have been within her rights to press charges against this woman for her behavior.  To her credit (or political savviness) she did not.

The bottom line is (and no pun is intended) that there is a line of decency and privacy that ought to be observed at all times, regardless of how maligned anyone might feel about another’s unwillingness to meet with us face to face.

When human beings are engaged in the process of attending to the less attractive of our natural functions, we are entitled to privacy.

It is just plain wrong to be seated on a toilet while being harassed by some discourteous fool on the other side of the stall door.

Despite the great acoustics offered by vast tiled spaces, there is no upside to an encounter that might be interrupted by the sounds of tinkling or flatulence.  There is certainly no trace of dignity or respect for the people on either side of that stall door.

In our house, when I made my case to husband and son, we did come to the agreement that a line of decency had been crossed.

Kyrsten Sinema was entitled to her privacy within the walls of the ASU ladies’ room.

Now, if she would extend the courtesy, dignity, and respect of granting access to her constituents, to the people who put her in office in the first place, all of us would be in a better place.


  • I agree that a line was crossed, no it was trampled and obliterated, in this instance. What gives anyone the right to what amounts to total harassment because you disagree with someone differing views. Maybe this Senator is beginning to realize the total mayhem on our southern border is shaping up to be something that is permanently damaging our country and way of life. Maybe you should listen and consider her views. You might learn something. Her own party threatens to censor her because she thinks outside of the liberal box? Seriously? I have absolutely no problem with LEGAL immagration. We have laws in this country that are being trampled and obliterated much worse than this Senators right to privacy! The worst part is the liberal left is cheering this idiocy on and to what end. Maybe stacking the deck in future elections if and when they are granted the rights of everyday legal citizens? For at least a couple hundred years now we have a legal means to become a citizen of the USA which my ancestors and multitudes of others have followed to a “T” to enjoy the freedom’s and privileges of America. So when did the rules change? I have watched recently interviews by LEGAL immagrants ( not on main stream media of course) totally pissed off by what is being allowed by our current administration and rightly so. They did the work, why can’t others be expected to do the same! I know I am going to be accused of changing the subject of your little tirade but as far as I am concerned this is the root of the problem. Why are the rest of us expected to follow the laws of the land and this group of whiners and screamers given special privileges to ignore centuries old laws! So we bend the rules this time, where does it end? Rape becomes OK? Robbery is acceptable well because people have to survive, right? Murder is no big deal, someone else can raise this person’s children. There are laws for a reason and when one of them is flagrantly broken only total mayhem will follow as we have seen in so many of our major cities and beyond. It is beyond time for us to step back, pull our heads out of our nether regions and really take heed what is going on around us. Bring us the down trodden and abused but let’s do it legally and properly so they can hold their heads up high as true productive citizens of this great country instead of living in the shadows in fear.

  • Ms. Mandaville, I appreciate your column for giving us a more complete understanding regarding the unfortunate restroom harassment experienced by your Senator. Of course, the individuals who supposedly represent LUCHA deserved an opportunity to express their positions. But their actions in this case clearly exceeded traditional standards of decency, professional courtesy, and effective political representation. So I agree with your assessment that it was an invasion of privacy, and I understand and concur with the Senator’s subsequent refusal to meet with them.

    And I share your concerns regarding your Senator’s puzzling votes and other actions to date. I fear we could see more confounding behavior from her in the weeks ahead. But I hope that her long-term Arizona supporters will nevertheless remain patient, persistent, and professional, while also increasing the volume and effectiveness of their lobbying efforts. The Executive Branch and progressive caucus leaders must do their part as well, but the strongest voices your Senator hears must always come from within your home state.

    I also hope that your Senator’s admirable allegiance to bipartisan negotiations, which she shares with Senator Manchin, President Biden, and precious few other D.C. “old timers,” can eventually spread to replace the “no on everything” partisan gridlock that has obstructed so much progress in our country for a generation or more. As much as we may wish that everything was always slam-dunk easy, these public policy decisions are always far more complicated, more risky and more expensive than we can imagine. Our country really needs its elected representatives and their staffs to once again work together, to understand each other, to sort, argue and fight through the details, and to compromise as needed for the greater good. In some ways, I am comforted by a hope that Senators Sinema and Manchin may actually be helping to make that happen, perhaps even with private support from Mr. Biden, Mr. Schumer, Ms. Pelosi, and a few other old timers on the Hill who might remember how things used to get done back in the good old days.

    I hope someday soon we can have some confidence and trust that our elected representatives are working together for the good of the country, and not just dancing to party lines controlled by donor puppeteers. Our country cannot succeed under programs and policies that whipsaw back and forth, from one extreme to another, depending on which party is in power. We must find common ground. Thanks again Ms. Mandaville!

    • Unfortunately, Ms. Sinema has taken the rags to riches policies that so many of the Republicans have chosen to take, they’ve been bought and paid for by corporations and billionaires that fund them. It’s sad to see this country turning into a oligarchy and so many people buying into it, we’ve been going down this road for over 40 years and after the election of Trump they almost achieved it.
      I still can’t believe how many people still have Trump flags and signs in their yards and homes and vehicles. I can’t remember any president from the past who’s ever had such blind loyalty to one man. So you have to ask, does this country have a social media problem and mental health crisis, or even a drug addiction problem.
      Just the other day when I was on my walk I passed a house where a woman was hanging her Trump flag off of her vehicle (by the way it was a 2020 flag). This is a house I walk past quite often and can’t help but notice the smell of marijuana coming from the property.
      There are more than 200 right wing media networks out there and more than 1,500 right wing radio networks in this country, so who is sending the message to these people? It’s definitely their goal to spread conspiracy theories and confuse these people about the role of government.
      It’s sad to see that Democrats are starting to follow this pattern too, but money has a way to manipulate people away from doing the right thing. The GOP has definitely gone down this path and GOP doesn’t mean what you think. It stands for Greed Oppression Power! Skoal!

  • Many of the DEMONcrats cross the line of decency all the time. From supporting violent actions like the riots and calling them peaceful protests. All while Police are violently attacked. Or the disgraceful support and promoting of abortions. Yes…. they do cross the line.

      • You can’t reason with nut jobs! Maybe we should have cyber ninjas do an audit here and waste taxpayers’ money like in Arizona. How did that turn out, or you must be referring to the “peaceful” protest at the capitol building on January 6th that wounded over 100 police officers defending our democracy. So yeah you’re right. You and old farm boy keep drinking the Kool aid… Skoal!

  • Gar, maybe it is time to remove your head from before mentioned nether regions and smell that coffee, that is my beverage of choice. It keeps me aware of what is happening in the world. You should try it.

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