Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New York Times Blogger Welcomes America to the Arizona Showdown

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 3:07 PM

The New York Times has identified a startling trend within our own, beloved Arizona: the growing power of liberals! I'm just as shocked as you are, readers.

Written by Jeff Biggers, the author of “State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream,” which was excerpted in the Weekly a few weeks ago, the article notes the growing strength of a progressive movement within Arizona, foretold by the ousting of former State Senate President Russell Pearce and carried along by the tight race between US Senate candidates Richard Carmona and Jeff Flake, and Paul Penzone's challenge against Joe Arpaio for Maricopa County Sheriff.

From the New York Times's Campaign Stops blog:

Underscored by Gov. Jan Brewer’s latest act of defiance in denying state benefits to undocumented youth affected by President Obama’s deferral of immigration action against them, the Republican Party’s full embrace of Arizona’s immigration policy at its summer convention drew a clear line in the state’s sand. The “Arizonification” of America continues to frame the national immigration debate. It has cemented the state’s frontline image as so hopelessly wedded to a punitive approach of “attrition through enforcement” at any cost that “The Daily Show” once referred to Arizona as the “meth lab of democracy.”

Not that the headline-grabbing nativists, frontier justice sheriffs, neo-Nazi marchers, gun-toting militiamen and Tea Party political figures don’t exist in Arizona. But as the estimated 5,500 in attendance for Richard Carmona and Bill Clinton reminded the state, the fringe elements dominating the media and Arizona’s state house may have finally met their match. Case in point: An electrified citizens’ campaign has mounted the most serious get-out-the-vote effort against Joe Arpaio, the notorious Maricopa County Sheriff, in his 20-year reign.

The resurgence of this “other Arizona” signals a revival of the state’s century-old legacy of fighting against such anti-immigrant and thinly veiled racism, a movement that began almost as soon as Arizona’s entry as a territory in the mid-19th century. For example, in Tucson, the pioneering Mexican immigrant Estevan Ochoa not only salvaged public education but single-handedly faced down the Confederate occupation of the Old Pueblo. When the Tucson Unified School District dismantled its acclaimed Mexican-American Studies program in Ochoa’s hometown last spring, Latino youth were quick to rekindle his memory.

The post continues by highlighting Arizona's growth as a state that was considered quite progressive in its founding; acknowledging a speech by the state's first governor, George Hunt, which decried the affect of corporations upon democracy; and notes the transformation of Cesar Chavez's "Sí Se Puede" into Barack Obama's "Yes We Can."

For the record, any proclamations that Arizona might actually be heading in a leftward lean in the near future have are closer to pipe dreams than anything else, and Biggers notes as much within the article. But the idea that Arizona might actually grow less extremely right-winged is incredibly promising for the future of intelligent, moderate politics — and hopefully, we'll have less of these running around as a result.

For the rest of the post, head over to NYTimes.com.

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