Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
I have to say there have been some encouraging developments in the AZ midterms the past few days. First Howie Fischer weighed in, and then the Arizona Republic (finally) ran a piece highlighting the significant differences on so-called “social issues”, that is, a host of things that affect a lot of people’s lives, rights, financial situation, ability to participate fully in society, etc., but do not necessarily fall within the confines of what rich white people consider important.
While Arizona’s most controversial social policies have generally originated in the state Legislature and the courts have had the final say, the governor is the gatekeeper. As the state’s chief executive, the governor holds the veto stamp and has historically used it to push back on legislation deemed too far outside the public interest.
Democratic candidate Fred DuVal has (rightly) been pushing religious, reproductive, and LGBT issues into the campaign lately because everyone not living in a cave in Arizona has to be aware of how often they are the subject of legislation in our right wing majority legislature. Ducey, for his part, desperately does not want to discuss these issues. Back in the primary I predicted that “centrist” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith would do this, but now it seems that the Republican nominee Doug Ducey is definitely channeling North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory (R) who swore up and down all he was concerned with was jobs, jobs, jobs, when he ran for that office in 2012.
To win, “Ducey can’t rely solely on Republicans, he has to rely on independent voters,” who tend to be younger and more liberal on social issues, said Rodolfo Espino, an associate professor at Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies. “That is why, when he talks about some of this stuff, he automatically moves it back to the economy and education. It’s, ‘Let’s not talk about this stuff any more.’ “
Pat McCrory’s pragmatic campaign posturing turned out to be a big fat lie and there is every reason to believe the same will be true of Ducey, judging from his alliance with Cathi Herrod and his own charitable activities. He shouldn’t get away with his evasions on reproductive rights.
This focus on “social issues”, or as I like to call them “human rights”, could not come at a better time, as mail in ballots drop on Thursday. I do have reason to fear they will soon be eclipsed, based on listening to KJZZ’s Here and Now on Wednesday, as host Steve Goldstein allowed AZ Republic’s Bob Robb to drone on about the state’s projected $1.5B deficit and how it was the most important thing facing the candidates (thankfully Chad Campbell was also there to throw cold water on Ducey’s craptacular economic ideas).
Now, as writer Connor Kilpatrick once very succinctly observed, worrying about deficits is how dumb people have pretended to be smart since the FDR era. They also provide Very Serious PeopleTM the opportunity to engage in Very Serious Chin Stroking about how much more poverty-punishing austerity is necessary. In fairness, the state’s deficit does differ from the federal in that Arizona is required to balance the budget, so it is a problem, but that doesn’t excuse the idiotic punditry that has been going on throughout this election season on fiscal matters.
Arizona political reporters, I hate to break it to you but you are not as clever as you think you are when you constantly press the candidates about the budget and how they’re going to pay for things. It’s honestly tiresome watching you try to pin them down on that, again and again. “But…but..what is your PLAAAAN?!?” The revenue situation of the state is not some impenetrable mystery. It is the result of an ill-advised 1992 amendment requiring a supermajority to raise revenue followed by years of cuts to revenue leading to (who could have seen it coming?) a structural deficit.
Thus, Fred DuVal could not raise taxes (the only real way to replace the revenue) if he wanted to, and the likelihood that you’ll get your “gotcha” on him by getting him to touch that electoral kryponite for no good reason is nil. Doug Ducey’s genius plan involves yet more corporate tax cuts and eliminating the income tax entirely, which will somehow cause underwear gnomes to grow the economy. So the fiscal choice is between one candidate, DuVal, who will hold things together and do good things to the extent the office allows and the other, Ducey, who will actively make things worse for the majority of Arizonans. That’s it. That’s the choice.
So why not make this race about the stark distinctions between the candidates on how they will treat women, minorities, poor people, and immigrants, AKA the majority of people in Arizona? It really tells you a lot more about their basic values and reasoning ability than their thoughts on fiscal policy ever will.