The State of Arizona has always been home to a somewhat contentious sort of people. Settled by prospectors and ranchers, many of whom were escaping the rules of civilization, it has never had a warm relationship with Washington. Yet, it has long sought to benefit from federal largess.
Prior to 1912, the people of Arizona Territory begged the US for statehood in order to receive the benefits and protection that would come with it. However, they didn’t want to give up any power to the nation they hoped to join. The territory wanted to claim sovereignty over all of the land within its borders, despite the fact that the Grand Canyon and surrounding lands had been named a National Park by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The Territory also wanted to maintain control over federal judges.
At the time, most Americans were opposed to Arizona statehood. It was felt that the Territory was a lawless frontier. But, eventually, Americans were convinced to offer Arizona statehood based on its deposits of valuable minerals. So in 1912, Arizona became the 48th state in the Union.
Two conditions of statehood were that the federal government would control the National Parks and National Forests and that Arizona would give up the recall of judges. Almost immediately after its statehood was ratified, Arizona reasserted its authority to recall judges. More recently, the Republican and Tea Party-dominated State Legislature has been trying to undo the other condition for statehood by repeatedly calling for sovereignty over all the lands within Arizona’s borders, and calling for nullification of any federal laws or orders the Arizona Legislature considers unconstitutional.
In other words, Arizona wants to be a state, but only on its own terms. Indeed, this attitude was clearly on display when Governor Brewer wagged her finger in the face of President Obama.
Yet, despite its distaste for the federal government, the state relies heavily on federal funds. The state receives nearly $2,000 more per citizen in federal funds than it pays in taxes. It receives subsidies for its roads and its schools, as well as supplemental food and other economic assistance for much of its population.
Recently, Arizona went cowboy hat in hand seeking billions more in federal expenditures for Luke Air Force Base to receive a new F-35 fighter wing. The state also requested (more accurately, demanded) billions more in federal aid for a costly border fence and thousands of US Border Patrol agents.
More than 100 years after receiving statehood, the State of Arizona is still relatively lawless thanks to the nation’s most lax gun laws. Much of it is still a wasteland…only now it’s home to millions living in denial that they can continue to drain the rivers and aquifers in order to golf on lush, green fairways without consequences. And its Tea Party Parasites and politicians still think they should be able to dictate terms to the federal government while enjoying all the benefits of federal taxpayer money.
There is, however, a glimmer of hope that the state may eventually embrace its statehood. The few moderate Republicans in the Arizona Legislature actually voted with Democrats to expand the state’s Medicaid program as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That’s great for Arizona’s poor and uninsured. On the other hand, it means that Arizona will soon receive billions more in federal funds.
What a state…er…nation…whatever…