Have Republicans Confused Democracy For Democrats?

Republicans and Democrats have long been political rivals. But, beginning in the 1980s, Republicans began to view Democrats as enemies…as over-educated elitists hell-bent on destroying America. More recently, the GQP (Grand QAnon Party) has created a narrative that Democrats are evil…part of an international cabal of pedophiles and cannibals.

That was bad enough. But thanks to Trump and his propaganda network, the GQP now seems to have conflated Democrats and democracy believing they both must be defeated at all costs. A majority of Republicans have been convinced that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. With absolutely no evidence to support the claim, they believe that their own state election officials are lying and that millions of illegal votes were cast for Biden. Never mind that Republicans gained seats in those same states.

Are we supposed to believe that the election was rigged for Biden, but not for other Democratic candidates?

Not satisfied by facts or reason, the GQP is now determined to undermine our electoral system to make sure that no Democrat can ever be elected again. Since the first of this year, the GQP has introduced more than 100 bills in 28 states to make it more difficult for Democrats, especially those of color, to vote. A report by the Brennan Center for Justice states, “These proposals primarily seek to: (1) limit mail voting access; (2) impose stricter voter ID requirements; (3) limit successful pro-voter registration policies; and (4) enable more aggressive voter roll purges.” And these proposals are on top of dozens of existing measures intended to disenfranchise voters.

For example, in Arizona, the GQP House proposed a bill that would have purged an estimated 100,000 voters from the state’s early voting lists. And though the vast majority of Arizonans happily vote by mail, GQP lawmakers want to make it more difficult. One bill would require voters to have their signatures on mail-in ballots notarized. Another bill would make mail-in ballots one-way. The county elections offices would mail out ballots. But voters could not return the ballots by mail. And yet another bill would make it illegal for anyone to conduct voter registration drives but county elections officials.

In Georgia, another state that Trump lost by a narrow margin, the GQP introduced nine bills to make it more difficult to vote, including ending automatic voter registration, doing away with no-excuse absentee voting, and eliminating mail ballot drop boxes. In other words, the GQP is saying, “If our candidates can’t win on merit, we’ll keep the supporters of their opponents from voting.”

That’s not only un-Democratic. It’s undemocratic.

The Sovereign State Of Arizona?

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…

The Next Detroit?

Since the US auto industry began exporting most of its jobs to southern right-to-work (anti-union) states, to China, to Mexico and to South Korea, the City of Detroit and nearby Flint have experienced dramatic losses in jobs and population. Large portions of both cities are ghost towns. Many of those who are left simply can’t afford to move. As a result, Detroit is in serious financial trouble.

In fact, politicians have used Detroit as a talking point to sell their program of austerity for the poor. “If you don’t act now, you’ll soon be in the same situation as Detroit.” It’s impossible to overstate how disingenuous that argument really is. When difficulties arise, the wealthy will always abandon ship first, leaving behind everyone else to deal with the problems they helped to create. Moreover, losses like those in Detroit can happen anywhere.

For example, looking ahead, you can predict that cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas may meet the same fate. Not because of a loss of industry. (The largest employer in Arizona is Walmart.) But because of the commodity most important for human existence – water.

Much of Arizona depends on the flow of water from rivers. There are numerous dams throughout the state to retain and divert water to cities. But due to overuse, the rivers are drying up. The Colorado River no longer reaches the Sea of Cortez. The water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead have dropped. Other rivers throughout the region are overused for irrigation and recreation.

Yet many communities and counties in Arizona refuse to take measures to conserve water. (The Phoenix metro area has more than 250 regulation golf courses and green lawns are valued throughout the area.) Instead, they come up with lamebrain ideas such as building a pipeline to pump water from the Great Lakes!

Imagine what will happen if even the most conservative of predictions for climate change come true. Much of the Southwest, including Phoenix is already as hot as Hades. If temperatures increase and water decreases as predicted, people will abandon the area in droves. Those unable to move, like many of those who remain in Detroit, will have to deal with the consequences that others caused.

Arizona’s Right Wing “Job Creators.”

When Gov. Janet Napolitano was replaced by the finger-wagging Jan Brewer following Napolitano’s appointment to become Director of Homeland Security in 2009, the last check on Arizona’s right wing-dominated legislature was eliminated. That led to such bills as the anti-immigrant SB 1070; bills that made it legal to carry guns in bars; bills that protected guns, not people; bills that cut tens of millions from public schools while cutting taxes for corporations.

All the while, the right wing legislators claimed that their top priority was job creation.

Therefore, it seems fair to judge their efforts by looking at the jobs created in Arizona compared to the rest of the nation. Since the end of the Great Recession, the US has regained 77 percent of the jobs lost according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Over the same period, Arizona has recovered just 46 percent of the jobs lost. Despite being one of the states hardest hit by the recession, Arizona ranks just 44th in job creation since February 2010.

The statistics show that Arizona has recovered just 66 percent of jobs lost by the information industry, 40 percent of those lost in professional and business services, 34 percent in other services, 32 percent in trade, transportation and utilities, 29 percent in government, and just 27 percent in manufacturing.

How can that be?

According to Teapublican legislators, the best way to create jobs is to cut taxes. Yet Arizona’s corporate taxes are among the very lowest in the nation. They also claimed that SB 1070 would allow Arizona citizens to reclaim jobs from undocumented workers. Somehow, they believed that chasing tens of thousands of immigrants from the state who rent homes, purchase cars, buy groceries and buy clothes would improve the state’s economy.

Apparently they also believe that outlawing a Latino studies program in the Tucson school district, eliminating the poor from Medicaid, attacking the federal government, cutting school budgets, redirecting money to private schools and private prisons, closing rest stops, closing state parks, demanding further proof of Obama’s citizenship, and telling the world that Arizona is unsafe, would entice tourists and sophisticated corporations to come here.

Maybe, just maybe, the right is wrong.

Arizona’s War On The Environment.

Arizona has a long love affair with the gun. Its legislature even named the Colt .45 as the state’s official gun. Gun shops are everywhere. And there’s at least one gun show in the state every weekend. On the other hand, there are few gun clubs or official firing wages.

So where do Arizonans go to fire all of these weapons?

They simply go into the wilderness. They shoot virtually anything in sight, whether it’s legal or not. They blast away at targets and bottles, leaving spent cartridges, broken bottles, targets and other trash in their wake. Increasingly, they leave the forest smoldering.

Over the last few years, dozens of wildfires throughout the West have been caused by hot lead. It’s difficult enough to keep Arizonans from camping when there’s fire danger; from starting campfires; from off-roading; even from flicking cigarette butts out their car windows. But no one’s going to keep Arizonans from exercising their “God-given”, Constitutional right to set the wilderness on fire.

A case in point is the Doce wildfire near Prescott. It has already been determined that the fire was human caused, but it’s not yet certain that it is the result of gunfire. What is known is that the fire has consumed thousands of acres, threatening homes. And that it began in the Doce Pit, an area popular for target shooting.

Sore Losers.

Following the expansion of Medicaid in Arizona, which was pushed by a very conservative governor and passed by a bipartisan coalition of both Republican and Democratic legislators, the so-called “patriots” of the Tea Party are trying every trick in the book to overturn majority rule.

They are threatening to collect enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot in 2014. Even if voters refuse to overturn it, the expansion would be delayed nearly a year after it’s supposed to take effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, the very conservative Goldwater Institute and the ultra conservative Center for Arizona Policy are threatening to sue the state if the bill is implemented. That, too, could hold up the expansion of Medicaid in Arizona.

The irony of all this is that, not six months ago, our “scorpion-eating” Governor Brewer was idolized by the Tea Party Parasites of Arizona. Now these people are crying foul. They claim that they were bullied and ignored…in the same way they’ve treated Democrats in the legislature.

Truth is, all these people really care about is their own narrow ideology. They could care less about democracy and the founding principles they claim to hold so dear. They could care less about the people of Arizona.

They’ve been exposed as the spoiled bullies they really are.