It may be time to take John Dean’s book Conservatives Without Conscience (2006) off your bookshelf for another read. (The book analyzes the different forms of conservatism, largely in terms of authoritarian personality. Dean makes extensive use of the research into right-wing authoritarianism by University of Manitoba Professor Bob Altemeyer).
There is a major outbreak of Tea-Publican conservative authoritarianism in the Arizona legislature.
These authoritarians do not believe that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” Arizona Constitution Article 2 Section 2, or that “the people reserve the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject such laws and amendments at the polls, independently of the legislature; and they also reserve, for use at their own option, the power to approve or reject at the polls any act, or item, section, or part of any act, of the legislature.” Arizona Constitution Article 4, Part 1 Section 1.
Many of these authoritarians have fundamentalist beliefs anchored in Calvinism, i.e., “unconditional election,” God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation; combined with the modern-day corruption of prosperity theology, “an insipid heresy whose popularity among American Christians has boomed in recent years, [which] teaches that God blesses those God favors most with material wealth.” One of the most compelling descriptions of this theocratic belief system is Jeff Sharlott’s exposés, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy.
When they believe that they were selected by God to rule over others rather than elected by the people to serve as their humble representatives, it is no wonder that they do not believe in democracy.
Some troubling developments collected from Craig McDermott’s earlier posts:
One of the GOPers’ attacks on the majority of civil society will be an attempt to impose a “tyranny of the minority.”
HCR2001 would change judicial retention election requirements so that judges subject to such elections would need the votes of 60 percent of the voters in an election to retain their offices.
HCR2002 would change the process of amending the state constitution so that proposed amendments would need the support of 60 percent of the voters in an election to be approved.
Other things the lege is proposing:
– Preventing residency challenges to electeds and candidates (If this one passes, expect it to be challenged in court and/or at the ballot box)
– Adding elected officials to a specially protected class of persons where a simple assault on them (a misdemeanor) is legally considered to be aggravated assault (a felony) (Sources indicate that at its beginning, this measure was intended to protect judges, but, as written, it covers all elected officials from the governor down to precinct committeemen. Who doesn’t it cover? Judges…)
And my favorite, a frontal assault on the Voter Protection Act by Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Proposed resolution would weaken Voter Protection Act:
A proposal to change Arizona’s Voter Protection Act would make it easier for lawmakers to repeal or alter laws approved by a popular vote of the people.
While the protections currently apply to all statutory measures that win voter approval by a simple majority, Rep. J.D. Mesnard said he’s drafting legislation that would require a ballot measure be approved by two-thirds of voters for Proposition 105 protections to attach – meaning the protections would apply to fewer voter-approved measures.
Statutory measures that receive less than the threshold, but more than a majority, would still go into effect, but could be amended or repealed by the Legislature.
Prop. 105, approved by voters in 1998, requires a three-fourths majority vote of both chambers of the Arizona Legislature for lawmakers to alter the law. And the proposition stipulates that any changes to the law may only be done to further the intent of the voters.
Mesnard, R-Chandler, said such stringent protections make it virtually impossible for the Legislature to make changes to laws adopted by voters.
This is a feature, not a bug. It is how the voters protected themselves from authoritarian conservative legislators like J.D. Mesnard. And yes the legislature can amend citizens initiatives with a “three-fourths vote to amend measure, to supersede measure, or to transfer funds designated by the measure, and only if each furthers the purpose of the measure.”
“If it’s so popular, it’ll get 66 percent. If it’s not so popular, then the Legislature should be able to amend it like any other law,” Mesnard said.
Then Mesnard should support my call for a repeal Prop. 108 (1992), the two-thirds super-majority requirement for tax matters, because “the Legislature should be able to amend it like any other law,” i.e., a simple majority vote.
Instead, Tea-Publican conservative authoritarians are proposing a raft of laws (above) to impose a super-majority requirement which, as Craig McDermott correctly notes, only empowers a “tyranny of the minority.”
How Mesnard’s authoritarian anti-democratic measure would work:
Beginning in 1998, voters have approved 23 of 37 statutory measures by a simple majority. Only eight of those statutory measures were approved by more than two-thirds of voters.
“(The Voter Protection Act) would obviously apply in a very limited basis if that was the case,” said Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter director, whose group frequently uses citizens’ initiatives to approve policies that the public supports but lawmakers don’t.
Changing the Voter Protection Act requires a constitutional amendment. If lawmakers approve Mesnard’s resolution, voters will then have to approve the measure on the ballot in 2016. Mesnard said he’s confident voters can be convinced it’s a good idea to weaken the protections they approved in 1998.
If the Legislature is truly a reflection of the people of Arizona, they should be able to alter these voter approved laws, he said.
“You don’t want just the 50-percent-plus-one to dominate the slight minority,” Mesnard said. “I think there’s a certain logic to the idea that, let’s make sure it’s got overwhelming support.”
This is the exact opposite of how a democracy works. Another Tea-Publican who failed his history classes:
“The first principle of republicanism is that the lex majoris partis is the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights; to consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single vote as sacred as if unanimous is the first of all lessons in importance, yet the last which is thoroughly learnt. This law once disregarded, no other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military despotism.” –Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1817. ME 15:127.
If Mesnard believes that the citizens of Arizona are going to give up their reserve powers to legislate, and to give up their only protection against an authoritarian legislature, he has another thing coming. This damn fool proposal will get crushed at the polls, and the bonus ought to be that J.D. Mesnard gets his sorry ass defeated as well.