In his letter dated June 1 concerning the filibuster, Brad Marsh attempts to define the difference between a republic and a democracy. Mr. Marsh seems to be saying that a republic protects minority rights, but a democracy does not. Most scholars would describe our form of government as a democratic republic. We the people elect someone to represent us. The protections minority voters have against the abuses of the majority party lie in our Constitution, in which the executive and legislative branches must agree on a law, subject to review by the judicial branch. There is nothing in the Constitution that speaks of the filibuster rule. With a few exceptions, the Senate and Congress are free to set their own rules, so the filibuster can be amended or eliminated.
The filibuster was first used in the late 1700s, but its use until the 1950s was exceedingly rare. It has been much more commonly used of late as the two parties have grown further apart ideologically. Mr. Marsh was correct in that Obama was roundly repudiated by the voters in 2010 when the Democrats lost both houses. The same is true of Trump when he lost both houses and the presidency. The voters spoke. In fact a clear majority of voters chose Biden, by more than 7 million votes. And as Trump was fond of saying, “elections have consequences."
We have a system of checks and balances in place that offer robust protection. And the final check against abuse is the American voter himself. The winning political party deserves a chance to govern. Under the filibuster rule, that is not possible today given the extreme polarization and demonization that exists in our body politic. That is why in my opinion the filibuster rule in the Senate needs to go away.
There was a report of attempted vandalism at a ballot drop box in San Tan Valley on Oct. 8. The potential for even more vandalism is likely to increase as we draw nearer to Election Day. This issue, coupled with the issue of timely delivery by the post office, make it imperative that we take two steps: Vote early, and if you use a drop box or the mail, confirm that your ballot was received by the Recorder’s Office. It may take a few days for your ballot to be received and recorded, so early voting will give you a chance to correct any issues that arise.
To check on the status of your ballot, go to: my.arizona.vote.
It is important that you save the tear-off stub on your ballot. That stub contains a reference number for tracking. Let’s have a safe and controversy-free election.
A recent poll indicates that 70% of Republicans may decline to be vaccinated for Covid-19 when a vaccine is available. Of all voting groups, Republicans are also the least likely to follow CDC safety guidelines for the pandemic. Most Republicans also think Trump is best suited to handle the economy.
Here is the problem: The Corona virus needs to be brought under control before the economy can bounce back to normal. Look at all the shut downs, startups, and shut downs again the country is experiencing because the virus keeps resurging. Our schools are in chaos. Most people in this country will not resume normal activities until they feel it is safe to do so, and so the economy remains stuck. Experts think it is likely to be June before a vaccine is widely available. Even then, certain factors need to fall into place to be successful. A vaccine will be somewhere between 50 to 90% effective. The goal is to reach ‘herd immunity’ of roughly 75% of the population. If we still have a high infection rate in the country, no effective testing and contact tracing program, a vaccine that is only roughly 50% effective, AND a large percent of the population unwilling to be vaccinated, we will likely fail. In the end, Republicans may be the ones most responsible if the country fails to quickly recover economically after a vaccine is available and distributed.
We can help control the outcome, but it requires a national effort from everyone. Until a vaccine is widely available, it is vital to keep the positivity rate of infection down as much as possible. That means wearing masks in public, social distancing and frequent hand washing. We get to choose between open bars or schools, not both. There are many examples of countries in the world doing much better than us. The key is that all of them have a far lower rate of infection. With a low infection rate, they have been able to open much more of their economies. We can and must do better.
And finally, we have control over who we put in the White House. Donald Trump is who he is, and will not change. He sets the wrong tone, has no plan for the pandemic or the recovery, and wants no responsibility. As Michelle Obama said the other night, if he is re-elected things can and will get worse. We need a reset, and that is why I will be voting for Joe Biden. He is our best hope to bring the Corona virus under control as quickly as possible. Then we can begin to re-build our economy and restore normalcy.
I read with interest Tom Snider’s letter regarding how the GOP has stood up for Blacks. Mr. Snider has his facts correct up to a point, but there is more to the story. Two Republicans followed Johnson: Grant and Hayes. Grant was a strong supporter of Reconstruction, but with the Panic of 1873, he and a good portion of the country lost interest as their attention was diverted elsewhere. Hayes won the presidency largely by pushing through the Compromise of 1877 that officially ended Reconstruction. That ushered in the era of Jim Crow, which was supported by most Democrats and Republicans in the South. Blacks had no real power, and both parties largely ignored them. All of this changed with Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat who pushed through the 1964 Civil Rights Act, giving Blacks equal protection under the law. To me, nothing the Republicans have done since Grant’s time compares to what Johnson did for the Blacks.
All of this history is interesting, but it is not necessarily relevant to today. Mr. Snider claims, but does not list any of the “many ways” the Republican Party helps Blacks. Recent polling data indicates that approximately 95% of Black voters favor Joe Biden. Coming from those who have the most to gain or lose from the upcoming election, that is a stinging rejection of Mr. Snider’s position.
Ever feel as if you live in an alternate universe? The stock market is in freefall, the entertainment and tourist industries are a disaster, and Italy is in lockdown, all as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. Our state will soon see falling revenues, rising unemployment and extreme pressure put on our health care system.
Yet our governor and his fellow Republicans are pushing tax cuts through the Legislature, acting as if all is well with the world. Now is the time to be conservative with the state’s money. We are fortunate to have a billion-dollar reserve fund, but that may not be enough to meet our citizens’ needs during this crisis and ensure a robust recovery after it ends. We need all the spending flexibility we can garner now and in the near future. That is why I feel it is foolish to consider any tax cuts this session. I urge the governor and the Legislature to postpone any action on tax cuts and review the issue next year. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.
The state Legislature is moving a bill forward that would have the governor name the state’s five utility regulators instead of having the people vote for them. Sen. Gowan claims there would likely be less politics involved if members were appointed, while Rep. Toma cites the huge amount of money that Arizona Public Service Co. poured into the elections of 2014 and 2016 to get preferred candidates elected as a reason to support this measure. Call me a skeptic, but neither argument is valid. The behind-the-scenes lobbying and pressure for candidates favorable to one viewpoint or another would be huge, and money will always find a way to exert influence.
I trust the voters more than I do the politicians to make the right choice, if we are able to make an informed choice. We currently have a way to help the voters make that informed choice. It’s called: Outlaw Dirty Money. We are currently gathering signatures to place this measure on the November ballot to force disclosure of donors who make large contributions to political campaigns. APS was able to hide the millions of dollars contributed in 2014 and 2016 because they gave the money to a political action committee, which made the contribution.
The issue is transparency and the voters’ right to know. This is also a pocketbook issue for everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, who equally suffer from constant rate increases or other abusive practices. The Outlaw Dirty Money initiative will go a long way toward correcting the abuses of the current system. The proposed bill moving through the Legislature will not do that. If you want more information about the initiative, go to: OutlawDirtyMoney.com. If you agree with the initiative, I urge you to support it by making sure it is placed on the November ballot.