Arizona Republicans know how to hang on to political power and by looking at the bills they have introduced this year, they certainly know how to abuse it as well. Perhaps we can chalk it up to growing pains, since we are one of the youngest states, or we can call it what it is: the purest example of the arrogance of power imaginable.
It seems the way to win elections is for the parties to “put up” as many D’s or R’s as possible, arguably including candidates with no business being in the legislature (look at the bills they’ve introduced).
The Republicans will run just about anyone breathing to fill a ballot (which explains some of our legislators), and Democrats are more “strategic,” (which explains single-shoting). It has become clear that as campaigns become more partisan, the legislation they will introduce becomes more extreme. The only way back from the brink is to stop party-line-voting and start seriously looking at an incumbent’s record and decide if reelecting them is in our best interests.
Back in 2010, incumbent Republican leadership produced a bankrupt state and sold our state capitol to hide their lousy job of managing the state’s finances. Jobs had evaporated, college was nowhere near “as close to free as possible,” and Arizona was near the top of the housing foreclosure rankings. With thirty years of Republican leadership, a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate, and even a Republican Governor, it seemed hard to fathom any scenario where voters would not want to retire the “leaders” who brought about this chaos.
After all, aren’t we supposed to “throw the bums out?”
Yet in the 2010 elections, most incumbents kept their jobs and Republicans actually increased their majority in both houses. Arizona Republicans proved that it is not important to have new ideas or real solutions.
Strategy is everything
When I ran against Russell Pearce for the Arizona Senate in 2010, I had the pleasure of knocking on thousands of voters’ doors. I find canvassing rewarding because it gives voters a chance to give me their “two cents worth” on what matters most. I noticed an interesting trend; if I asked them what was on their mind politically, they most often mentioned immigration or health care. When I asked them what would make their lives better, the answer was always the same: better schooling for their kids and more money in their wallet. It was always those two things and always in that order. Their political concerns were more related to fear while their practical concerns were more about their children and their jobs.
What can we learn from the discrepancy between voters’ political versus practical concerns? First, we see that Republicans got on message and focused on the emotional issues because that’s what motivates their base. Democrats, on the other hand, focused on what helped make people’s lives better. Secondly, the Republicans’ emotional emphasis meant that voters got distracted and elected candidates incapable of servingthe voter’s best interests. The end result is a Republican legislature that de-funds education, scares away business, makes health care impossible to obtain, and threatens our kids’ safety in schools — and that was just last year!
They’re at it again this year. They’re hearing more crazy bills, including the one about guns on campus. Question: would guns on campus deliver better educational outcomes? Not a chance. What about drug testing elected officials? How many jobs will that create? Would new taxes on businesses payments sent overseas by wire increase business confidence? No, but those are the laws we’re getting by refusing to hold them accountable for their failures.
Contact your legislators and tell them to stop wasting taxpayer’s time and money with these nonsensical bills. Tell them to quit pandering to outside, special interests just to get a higher score on their political scorecards or face the voter’s wrath in November.
Andrew Sherwood is Democratic Party district chairman for Arizona’s Legislative District 18.