Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Keep Digging

While the presence of John McCain at the top of the ticket this November may stave off the effects here in Arizona until 2010, the Republican Party is in an inexorable slide into electoral irrelevance for at least a generation.

One can cite many reasons for this trend (wholesale corruption, basic incompetence, etc.), but those are just symptoms of their problem. The underlying cause of their fall is the fact that that majority of Republicans, especially the majority of *elected* Republicans, are devoted to serving an idealogy more than their constituents.

This tendency can be seen at all levels of government.

- - In the days, weeks, months and years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Republican government, led by Bush, his Administration and his water-carriers on the Hill (and, unfortunately, aided and abetted by some Democrats) has suspended or blatantly ignored civil rights here and abroad (Gitmo, habeas corpus, warrantless wiretapping of Americans, etc.). However, during the anthrax attacks immediately after 9/11, when it was realized that the main anti-anthrax drug used in the U.S., Cipro, was in critically short supply, the Bush Administration ardently defended the patent of its manufacturer Bayer against calls that the government override the patent because of the public health crisis in order to allow other manufacturers to make a generic version.

- - Lost in the hubbub over John Shadegg's decision to retire and his later (and still ongoing) reconsideration of that decision because of a letter from most of his Republican colleagues in the House is the fact that nothing in the letter talks of how he is a dedicated advocate for CD3, which is, after all, what he was ostensibly hired to be when he was elected.

Instead, the letter raves about what a good and inspirational conservative he is and how his colleagues respect him. The letter closes with the line "[t]he Republican Conference needs
you here, the Conservative Movement needs you here, and the country needs you here."

Sounds like someone who is better qualified to be chair of the Arizona Republican Party or the RNC than CD3's elected representative in Congress.

- - Then, of course, there is everyone's (least) favorite anti-immigrant bigot, State Rep. Russell Pearce (R-LD18).

Not only does he gleefully push for harsh laws that destroy families, many of which live in his district, all in the name of his ideology of national 'purity,' he's extending his contempt for his constituents with bills like the one to repeal the state equalization property tax (HB2220), a direct attack on public education or the one to redirect state-shared revenue funds from municipalities to private land owners (HB2641). [Note: An EV Tribune story on this phenomenon here.]

His disdain for his constituents and his district is nothing new, as documented in this 2006 post about a candidate forum in Mesa.

A forum that Pearce blew off to spend time with J.D. Hayworth (a fellow traveler in the anti-immigrant bigot crowd) at a meeting of the LD18 Reps.

Pearce also likes to pimp...errr..."promote" bill ideas from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a front group for right-wing corporate interests while at the same time he disparages the City of Mesa's desire to protect state-shared revenue as part of its legislative agenda for the year.

From the EV Trib in November -

Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said that cities and towns have refused to participate in past tax reduction efforts, “so it’s hard to be real sympathetic.”

Pearce is chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

When it comes to cutting spending, Pearce said the state constitution states an obligation to public safety, education and transportation.

In short, his district only matters to him so long it follows his ideology; when there is a separation between his ideology and his district's needs, he throws his district under the bus.

- - Even when Republicans criticize other Reps, it's always for not being "conservative enough", never for failing to represent their constituents.

...John McCain with his 82%+ lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union is on the receiving end of harsh criticisms from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and even some Arizona LDs. They call him too 'liberal.'

82% from the ACU? He's not even 'moderate', much less liberal.

...Here in AZ, Republicans like State Senator Carolyn Allen, State Representative Bill Konopnicki, and Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes and a couple of others are subjected to never-ending vitriol from self-appointed guardians of Republican orthodoxy for the heresy of being dedicated public servants.

In their cases, a "dedicated public servant" is someone who works for his/her constituents, sometimes protecting their interests over those out-of-state corporations (a post on Mayes doing just that here); sometimes they upset their Republican colleagues by occasionally working with (horrors!) Democrats on issues that generate support across partisan lines.

Unlike good conservatives like, say.... House Speaker Jim Weiers, who, on an annual basis, refuses to craft a state budget with input from Democratic legislators.

When Republicans look at the hole they're in and admit to themselves that perhaps they aren't striking a chord with the American people, they tend to conclude that the solution is to "get back to basics"; in other words, do more of what isn't working for them now.

As a Democrat, a taxpayer, and a citizen I say this:

Keep digging.

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