May 26, 2021
When an American political party values holding power more than preserving democracy and serving the people, it has lost its way. When its goal is to stay in power no matter what it takes — from lies over truth — hypocrisy over integrity — voter suppression — gerrymandering — undermining trust in elections and government itself — white-washing insurrection and accepting authoritarian leadership, it has chosen to place party before country.
Consider the Republican Party’s choice of a leader. Trump’s authoritarian disposition as president was well known. It is especially clear in his refusal to give up power after having lost in a free and fair election. Holding onto power by any means is the essence of any authoritarian leader and those who empower that leader.
Consider the party’s acceptance of Trump's “Big Lie.” The preponderance of evidence shows Trump lost to Joe Biden by over 7 million votes in a fair election. Principled Republicans who have spoken out against the “Big Lie” (Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Mitt Romney, Brad Raffensperger and others) have been vilified by Republican Party leaders and Trump because they chose truth over the “Big Lie.”
There are many problems in this country that need to be addressed by bipartisan legislative action. The minority Republican Party in both the House and Senate chooses to obstruct. Without regard for what a majority of the American people want and need, it focuses only on regaining majority power in Congress in the 2022 midterm elections even if it takes a “Big Lie” and an authoritarian leader to get it done, and even if it means ignoring the American people, destroying our democracy and crushing our best opportunity in many decades to rebuild America and empower Americans for the 21st century.
April 27, 2021
Say a conservative senator and a liberal senator are driving across the same bridge at the moment it collapses and both are lost in the river below — along with everybody else on the same bridge. Whose political ideology matters most now?
The senators’ common interest was to ensure the integrity of the bridge and the safety of their constituents. The liberal advocated an infrastructure bill along with funding. The conservative said he would fight it all the way. His main excuse — our national debt would increase and harm America’s future.
Increasing debt was not a problem for conservatives when they were in power. They voted to continue spending even as they voted to cut revenue. A reduction of revenue — over $3 trillion in tax cuts under two conservative presidents (Bush and Trump) — contributed to increasing the national debt while our infrastructure decayed and a few wealthy people became more wealthy.
If conservatives are truly concerned about the national debt as something more than a talking point for the next election, they can reduce it by increasing taxes on corporations and the super-wealthy and using that revenue to support the Biden infrastructure plan. This visionary 21st century American infrastructure plan will help make American corporations more competitive globally, the super-wealthy even wealthier and America a better place for all.
Conservatives can work with liberals to invest in a world-class America where our children and grandchildren and American business can be competitive in the world of tomorrow, or they can fight against that all the way to the next election — and wait for the bridges to crumble. America is in a “pay me now or pay me later” moment. “Pay me later” will always be more costly.
There are two indisputable facts about the Arizona 2020 election: 1. If former President Trump had been reelected, the Arizona Republican legislative majority would not be questioning the integrity of the election. 2. Arizona Republican voter suppression legislation says more about the lack of integrity of the legislative majority than it does about the lack of integrity of Arizona’s election system. Republican legislators question the soundness of the system that elected Biden even though it was the same system that elected them. Can we expect them to be resigning soon in the interest of “election integrity”?
Republican leaders believe voter suppression helps them win elections. Many times it has. We heard it from Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich in the 1980s when he said he did not want everyone to vote because Republicans gained more leverage when fewer people voted. We saw it with Donald Trump undermining confidence in the 2020 election and we heard it again from Arizona House member John Kavanaugh recently in his elitist “quality vs. quantity” comments on voting.
Two members of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, Mark Kimble and Damien Meyer, believe that voter suppression is not the answer for Republicans. They say to win votes, Republicans should find better candidates and develop better policies. (Arizona Daily Star, March 14, 2021)
This makes sense and would show more integrity than relying on legislative power to rig elections. Granted, better candidates and policies are not within reach of today’s Republican Party or Arizona’s Republican legislators. What else can they do but continue to pass laws making it more difficult for everyone to vote, thereby ensuring that fewer people can vote so Republicans can wield even more leverage to steal future elections?
I disagree with B. Branagan’s notion that we have a republic but not a democracy. (Dispatch, Feb. 13, “One-party rule hurts nation”)
We have a democratic constitutional federal republic. Our constitution sets up the structure and the division of powers between our national government and state governments and the people, all with the goal of establishing and preserving democracy. Our government is based on majority rule together with the protection of the rights of the minority. Democracy does not mean one party rule or mob rule or indiscriminate majority rule as Branagan believes.
Democracy means rule by the people as opposed to rule by an autocratic few. Our Declaration of Independence states that “governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The preamble to our constitution begins with the words, “We the People of the United States...." It does not begin with the words "We the rulers of the republic." Under our democratic system the people are sovereign.
We practice both representative democracy and direct democracy. We rely on democratically elected representative government for local, state and national governance. Constitutionally protected direct democracy avenues are available when elected representatives fail to serve the people. In Arizona the people are empowered to make their own laws through the direct democracy of initiative and referenda.
Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said that we have a republic, if we can keep it. That is true. We also have a democracy, if we can keep it. The surest way to lose both is to allow our republic to become a stepping stone to authoritarian rule by not defending our democracy.
The lie promoted by Mr. Finchem that the Arizona 2020 presidential election was stolen really comes down to this — the presidential candidate who would support Mr. Finchem’s far-right extremist views did not win. Mr. Finchem’s distress comes not from concern about election irregularities but from the failure of Mr. Trump to win Arizona’s electoral votes.
My distress comes from the fact that Mr. Finchem is still in office after attending and approving the storming of our U.S. Capitol. A photo of Finchem in his big, black cowboy hat and a wide grin as he watches the events unfold is indelibly fixed in my mind. He appears absolutely gleeful amid the chaos, destruction and desecration of that day.
It was reported that Finchem was in Washington to deliver evidence he thought would help overturn the results of the Arizona 2020 election. In fact, he was there to support the huge lie at the center of the maelstrom he helped create by perpetuating that lie — that the election had been stolen. The fact that he did not enter the building but watched from the back of the crowd because he was late does not mitigate his complicity.
Through his words and actions to undermine a free and fair election, Mr. Finchem has violated his oath as an elected Arizona legislator. He should be removed from office immediately. To learn how you can join the recall effort now underway, go online to Blog For Arizona: Finchem Recall.
Did the Divine Right of Kings against which our American revolutionary patriots fought almost 250 years ago make a comeback in America in 2016? I ask because Donald Trump and others claim, with all it implies, that he was chosen by God.
In America the president should be chosen by the people. Trump has never been chosen by the people. In 2016 he lost the popular vote by 3 million. In 2020 he lost the popular vote by 7 million when 81 million Democrats, independents and Republicans united in a resounding “no” to Trump.
Most Republican senators in what was formerly the “world’s greatest deliberative body” no longer deliberate but have become obsequious lords and ladies of the ruling class headed by Trump. Federal and state Republican house members and senators alike bow and scrape and hold their tongues and do his bidding. Too few continue to deserve their respected titles by being faithful to their oath to protect the Constitution — too few.
Muddled red-hatted minions claiming to be patriots mindlessly chant his slogans. He lies to them. He uses them. He plays them for cash. He insults them. They bow before him and bask in his phony majestic beneficence. They swear their allegiance and their lives not to our Constitution but to one man and the entitled ruling class he represents.
Losing a presidential election once meant congratulating the winner and stepping down from office graciously so the business of the people could proceed in a peaceful manner. It was about the country, not the person. All those who support Trump’s efforts to overturn the will of the people should be ashamed to call themselves Americans as they help him make his devil’s deal — the U.S. Constitution for a crown.
I completely agree with Janell Alewyn’s recommendation (Dispatch, Nov. 14) that those who choose to ignore reasonable safeguards against the COVID-19 virus, thus putting themselves and others in danger, should go to the end of the line for treatment. I would go a step further and ask for support for state and national leaders who mandate masks.
We all have read of or seen people who believed Trump’s fabrication that the pandemic was a Democratic hoax intended to bring him down, only to change their minds when they or family members found themselves in the ICU. The real hoax was perpetrated by Donald Trump when he politicized this viral infection to serve his own political purposes. Those who bow to Trump’s self-proclaimed infallibility in medical matters and follow his lead by refusing to wear masks or to social distance do a disservice to fellow Americans and unwittingly commit the unforgivable Trumpublican sin of practicing “political correctness.”
Experts agree that it is scientifically true that this infection can be managed if all wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash their hands while waiting for a vaccine to be developed. But the politically correct believe that what is actually true matters less than what Trump says is true. Through him they foolishly see reasonable and effective precautions against sickness and death as a tyrannical imposition on their freedom. Their slavish devotion to Trump and their politically correct beliefs will lead to more of them and other people waiting in hospital lines where they will suddenly come up against the hard fact that the experts were right all along. We can defeat COVID-19 if we act on the actually true and ignore the politically correct by following the advice of medical experts and supporting a national mask mandate.
My wife and I watched the LD11 Clean Elections debate on YouTube on Sept. 30. We were impressed with the thoughtful and articulate responses of retired Marine JoAnna Mendoza of Red Rock and Dr. Felipe Perez of Oro Valley. JoAnna is running for the Arizona Senate seat occupied by Vince Leach. Dr. Perez seeks a House seat held by either Mark Finchem or Bret Roberts.
We were disappointed that neither Sen. Vince Leach nor House members Mark Finchem or Bret Roberts chose to participate. Where were they? We would like to have heard what they had to say about their response to the critical issues of COVID-19 and schooling and Arizona’s economy. These representatives were elected to work for us. Attending debates is part of the job. This is not the time for incumbents to fail in that responsibility by hiding from their constituents.
We can understand that Leach, Finchem and Roberts might not be proud of their records as legislators — especially during this pandemic. Their dedication to ALEC and corporate interests far outweighs their dedication to solving local problems for the citizens of LD11. We can understand that they do not want to appear on YouTube opposite two strong Democratic candidates who are well qualified to publicly challenge their records just before an election.
The way we see it, Democrats won the Clean Elections debate by respecting the LD11 community enough to show up and talk about the important issues that affect us all. Incumbents who are afraid to come forward to discuss school funding and the pandemic economy must have little confidence that they have done a good job while in office. We will vote for JoAnna Mendoza for Arizona Senate and Dr. Felipe Perez for the Arizona House.
If we want law and order in our streets, a commonsense place to start would be to disband so-called militias of both the right and the left. Gangs of men in our streets brandishing semi-automatic weapons do nothing to bring law and order to our communities. They bring fear and the potential for lethal violence. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, two protesters are dead, another injured because a young man with a gun responded to a militia all-call. An alleged militia member was shot dead in Portland.
The term “militia” implies government sanction. Without government sanction and regulation, so-called militias might just as well be called gangs. Why does the media use the term “militia” to describe these self-organized, free-lancing paramilitary units that have no connection to government. Most so-called militia members justify their existence as the first line of defense against tyrannical government. The problem is that so-called militias can just as easily be used to support the rise and persistence of tyrannical government.
The idea of a “well-regulated militia” in the U.S. Constitution was of citizen soldiers prepared to come at the call of government to defend the nation. That is different from thousands of individuals responding to a private citizen’s call to lock and load to defend, at whatever time or place, whatever they choose to say they are defending.
If we want peace and order in our streets, we must make just laws and enforce them equitably. That is the message of protesters across our county. Common sense should tell us that putting our faith in AK-47s and AR-15s carried by gangs of either the right or the left will only lead to more fear and more lethal violence in our communities. It is time to say to all so-called militias, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
I disagree with Anthony Smith (Dispatch, Aug. 1) that reelecting Trump in November will bring us a safe and prosperous country. Reelecting Trump will bring an authoritarian order never before seen in this country. Law will be what the president and his attorney general and his rigged Supreme Court say it is. America will become a country not of laws but of men who wield power with impunity in the name of law. We see that happening already with an impeached president pardoning friends like convicted lawbreakers Joe Arpaio and Gen. Flynn and commuting the lawful sentence of Roger Stone. Trump believes he is the law. AG Barr agrees.
That is the problem at the local level of law enforcement — police who believe they are the law and who break the law in the performance of their duties and get away with it. This is the root cause of the BLM protests. All protesters are not anarchists and all police are not storm-troopers. It just takes a few to defame the rest. Most of our law enforcers are decent, dedicated, hardworking professionals who put their lives on the line for the community every day. Most protesters are decent people — from students to veterans to grandparents — who are seeking justice through our democratic system and are willing to put their lives on the line
If the majority of our budgets go to funding public safety, as Anthony Smith says, why not reconsider how effectively the money is spent. Should some go to police reform? Can we reduce the root causes of crime such as mental health and neglected social conditions through redirecting a portion of law enforcement funding? I am with Biden — it is worth considering.
Nobody ever voted for ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) yet ALEC drives legislation for all Arizonans by using legislators Arizonans did elect. ALEC is a private, national organization that threatens our democracy at the state level by seducing our elected legislators with perks and “model legislation” to push a national agenda that serves radical conservative and religious right ideology and corporate America. Through ACCE (the American City County Exchange) ALEC has extended its reach into our counties and cities.
ALEC is a danger to good government. A co-founder of ALEC, Paul Weyrich, called the idea of good government the “Goo Goo syndrome." View the video on YouTube where he advocates voter suppression to benefit the radical right. Type in YouTube and Paul Weyrich and click on the video.
According to Alexander Hertel-Fernandez in his 2019 book about ALEC, entitled "State Capture": “Weyrich emphasized that his philosophy about political change was ... ‘different from previous generations of conservatives ... We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure in this country.’” (Dallas 1980)
ALEC relies on radical conservative legislators like LD11’s Leach, Finchem and Roberts as well as most Republicans in the Arizona Legislature to pass its national agenda of voter suppression, protection of “dark money,” public money for religious schools, elimination of minimum wage laws, privatization of public schools, public lands and prisons, state preemption of local government, ending Obamacare and the U.S. Postal Service and much more. Learn more online at “ALEC Exposed."
Radical conservative LD11 state legislators Leach, Finchem and Roberts work for ALEC. Elect LD11 legislators who will work for you by voting for Democrats in 2020.
The real question for this climate change and coronavirus era is not how soon we can get back to our jobs and entertainments and conveniences so that we can live as we lived before — the real question is what should we do to ensure our survival going forward.
What political, social and personal policies should we consider and enact to ensure the availability of the following necessities: clean drinking water, clean air, a stable food supply, clean and stable energy sources and efficient transportation, health care and education systems. How should we arrange our economy and infrastructure to support it all? How do we secure our physical survival while protecting human dignity and human rights?
If we insist on returning to a belief in unlimited economic growth for a few, rather than moving forward to a belief in limited and optimal economic growth for all, only the few will survive in a world no longer worth inhabiting.
Forests would not exist if every tree decided it had the right to outgrow every other tree and the right to all available resources to support only itself. Because everything in nature is connected, every living thing is limited in its ability to extend its growth. We are being reminded by climate change and this pandemic that we are part of nature and are not exempt from limitations on our growth.
This is not a partisan issue. We humans distinguish ourselves from other furry creatures on this planet by our intelligence. Climate change and this pandemic are telling us to use our intelligence to reflect and reconsider our way of life, our connection to the Earth, and what we need to do to establish a stable and sustainable future.
Just received a handful of mail. There’s a new book, my electric bill, a few pieces of junk mail and my bank statement. Some days I get Netflix DVDs and, around holidays, cards from my kids and grandkids and friends. At voting time I also get a voter’s guide and my ballot. Later I will be dropping off something — mailing a check to pay a bill, or sending a small package to my brother in Florida, or mailing out my ballot. All of this I get at minimal cost and minimal personal effort.
So I was astounded when I learned that President Trump and state Sen. Vince Leach do not support the United States Postal Service. They are opposed to including it in the national COVID-19 bailout and would rather have it fail.
Some say it is because they fear voting by mail will increase voting and that will benefit Democrats. Others say Trump and Leach wish to privatize mail delivery along with public schools and prisons and Social Security. Privatization is what happens when people who do not really believe in public service and democratic government get themselves elected to public office. That usually happens when fewer people vote. Kapeech?
Americans need to support the USPS as we support our military, our fire and police and our public schools. These institutions and others served our country long before Trump and Leach decided government should serve corporate America and big money. Trump and Leach will be forgotten. The institutions that actually do something to make our lives better will go on to serve us and all who come after as long as we support them by voting for people who really do believe in public service and democratic government.