The video, which lasts almost 2 minutes, spends a lot of time showing the booth where Sinema is located. The Senator never interferes with the demonstrators – verbally or in any other way.
Although the video wasn’t uploaded to Twitter until Sunday afternoon, it has already been viewed more than 4.7 million times. What will look like success to the people who have followed Sinema to the bathroom. As has the applause they have received from some corners of liberal Twitter who are furious at Sinema’s opposition to a higher price tag for a draft budget that includes most of President Joe Biden’s key agenda items for the first term.
Even if it looks like a win, it isn’t. Indeed, it is a failure. Because tactics like these – whether against Republicans or Democrats – go too far from the culture of confrontation. It is just not productive to follow an elected officer into the bathroom – filming all the way – to make his point. You can wait outside. She can’t stay in the bathroom forever.
To be clear, I am not Pollyanna-esque about the nature of political dialogue in this country. Conversations and confrontations that were once reserved for committee hearings and town halls have become a given as members of Congress go about their daily lives in their state or district. And generally more citizen engagement and participation is one Well Cause for the health of our democracy – especially after the catastrophe we all experienced on January 6th in the US Capitol.
Despite the blurring of the lines between public and private life, there is a line quiet exists. And following someone into the bathroom and filming their booth is an exaggeration. It’s easy. General decency dictates that we let people go to the bathroom with a reasonable expectation of privacy. This video was clearly an invasion of Sinema’s privacy.
Sinema said in a statement Monday that the activist group involved in the video “is one that both my team and I have met several times” and that their “behavior was not a legitimate protest”.
“Several people disrupted my class at Arizona State University yesterday. After fraudulently entering a locked, secure building, these people filmed and publicly posted videos of my students – including recordings of my students and me using a toilet – without their permission. ” She said.
Consider this: If the persecution of Sinema to the bathroom is streamlined by those who oppose her political decisions, what would be off limits? Would it be okay for you to open the barn door to confront them even more directly? If not why not? I mean, you followed her to the bathroom, right?
There is a time and a place for this type of confrontation. And Sinema, as an elected official, must be ready, willing and able to deal with those who not only want to oppose their political decisions, but also do so publicly.
A toilet cubicle is not that place. And by confronting them while using the toilet, the demonstrators lose the power of their message. Sure, your video gets a lot of views. But people watch because they are shocked to see a US Senator face off in a bathroom. The problems that drove protesters into such invasion of privacy have largely been lost.