The Vindictive Style in Arizona Politics

The Vindictive Style in Arizona Politics

The state of Arizona is addicted to stupid. 

Like a junkie searching for a new hit, it seems the Grand Canyon state has decided that there's no such thing as bad press so long as people spell your name right. Legislators in  the state got their first rush from SB1070, riding the anti-immigrant wave to much applause from the right wing in this country. That wasn't enough; a new shot was needed to surpass that initial dose.  

Now, you have to look at Arizona in the broader context of what's occurring across the nation. The entire political climate is poisoned with hate: hate for the government, specific hatred of President Obama, and an increase in the paranoid style of American politics that spells big bucks for people hawking this stuff. As a state that's pretty much ignored by the rest of the Union, legislators in Arizona have struck pay dirt: keeping the state's name in the headlines with more outrageous and pointless legislation that just ramps up the paranoia. States with Republican majorities are all trying to out-crazy one another. 

What do you say about a state that ranks near the bottom in education always slashing what's left in that budget to "solve the financial crisis?" Ah yes, that's the siren song of the right-wing: using a financial crisis to mask their desires to get rid of all sorts of social programs they hate. Here's the funny part: these are same people insisting that Obama is trying to destroy the nation by taking away peoples' freedoms, but they can't get enough wanting to up-end social services and oversight agencies of any kind. The machinations of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker have inspired other states to follow the same tactic of ending collective bargaining as a way to solve budget problems, which apparently strikes Republican voters as the most sensible and logical approach they've ever heard of. 

But Arizona wants to use the state's fiscal shortfalls to carry out other things as well, including denying citizenship status to children born to illegal immigrants. The "reasoning"? Illegal immigrants are a drain on the system, and their leeching children just make things worse. And given that the state has found a mortal enemy in illegal immigrants, there's no shortage of support. You have a governor who won election with stories of headless bodies in the desert, a former secretary of education now attorney general who has continued his jihad against all things Hispanic, and current legislation to make the Colt the official gun of the state. Meanwhile, the state has cruelly cut off money for organ transplants, claiming that there's nothing else to be done. Arizona has time for pointless measures but money for sick people? Let them die. 

The sickness at the core of the nation's politics have resulted in the legitimacy of barely disguised bigotry, not only at illegal immigrants but the President himself. At what point in the last forty years was it a major political platform to question the president's nationality, or never to correct the lie when faced with it? Speaker of the House John Boehner won't correct it, Mike Huckabee delights in encouraging it, and in Arizona (again!) there's even legislation requiring a presidential candidate to present his birth certificate when campaigning there.

It's beyond stupid. There is a wide cruel and vindictive streak in American life right now that does not look like it's going to pack up and leave any time soon. And when you want to chart the next move, just look at what happens first in Arizona, the center of meanness and stupidity for the entire nation.