Gosar to Voters: You’re Morons

The Arizona Democratic Party is slamming Paul Gosar for his criticism of the 17th Amendment. Here he is, as quoted by them, at an event with Hugh Hewitt:

There’s an unintended consequence when you change this document (holds up a copy of the Constitution). I bring up the 17th Amendment. … Prior to the 17th Amendment, our senators came from our statehouse. … And you look at some of the problems we now have in what I call our senior circuit, the U.S. Senate — five years you can do whatever you want and then that last year you can go ahead and campaign to try and get re-election. … So I’m not in favor of that.

Opposition to direct election of senators has been on the back burner among movement conservatives for a while. Former Rep. Barbara Blewster used to talk about it, and just last session, Dave Stevens brought up a piece of legislation giving the legislature the power to name party nominees for the senate.

Two things are at work here: one is that what Gosar is saying is that the voters (he means you) have done a poor job of picking our senators, and this job would be better left to our wise leaders like Sylvia Allen and Russell Pearce. We voters, Gosar thinks, are too flighty and unreflective to choose who represents us in the upper chamber. Of course, these are the same people who he hopes will pick him for the lower chamber.

(If Gosar wins, will he use that as evidence that the voters don’t know what they are doing?)

The second thing at work is an attempt to wipe out any of the advances that were made in the early part of the last century. We have candidates in other states talking about getting rid of minimum wage laws, for example. Lefties wring their hands about rolling the clock back to the fifties, but it’s like these guys want to go back further than that. All that talk from Glenn Beck trashing progressivism, the social gospel, Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt isn’t just some annoying sideshow: they are serious about this wingnuttery.

Another part of this is the ignorance of the history of the state that Gosar hopes to represent. Arizona was a hotbed of progressivism when we achieved statehood. So much so that we adopted language mandating a binding election for the US Senate before the 17th Amendment was passed. He can find that that language is still in the state constitution, unless he has the same aversion to reading our state constitution as most Arizona Republicans. So, even if Gosar got his wish, the great unwashed mob would likely still get to choose their senator in his own state.

Too Much Democracy

Rep. Barbara BlewsterEven though she was turned out of office a few years ago, Rep. Barbara Blewster still feels that she has much to contribute to the debate. She recently sent out an e-mail to the members of the legislature:

Dear Members,
Thank you again for voting for the Stop the Free Trade Area of the America (FTAA) Resolution. Relating to the Jefferson quote below we need to rescind the 17th Amendment. Be thinking about it as a resolution to Congress.

“[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore…never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.” —Thomas Jefferson

Barbara Blewster

I have a little trouble drawing a logical line from the Jefferson quote to bringing back appointed senators. Those who remember her single term in the legislature will not be suprised that her thinking rarely involves reason or logic.

The only reason that this is worth bringing up though is that this is not the first time I have heard the far right suggest such a thing. It seems to come up on op-ed pages and letters to the editor every couple of years. The argument goes that somehow elected senators are naturally inclined to be spendthrifts who put all sorts of burdens on state governments, and the only way to cure this is to go with what the founders wanted: an unelected, elite senate (George F. Will’s argument for term-limits is similar.) Blewster and others like her love to invoke American history and the founders, but seem to be rather challenged when it comes to the history of our own state and the movements that created it.

The progressive and populist movements had deep roots here in Arizona at the time the state constitution was written. The two movements were very different, but they agreed on one basic thing: the solution to the problems with our democracy can be cured by more democracy. The progressives were the ones who managed to push for the 17th ammendment that provided for direct election of senators. Interestingly, Arizona had direct election of Senators from the moment of statehood. (Technically, before statehood, since the election was held early so the senators could be sworn in when President Taft signed the statehood bill.)

Aside from that, I have to ask, what Senator over the past 30 years would Blewster and those who agree with her would have wanted to ditch? Well, I figured that Dennis DeConcini would have been gone. Who else? Arizona has elected mostly conservatives. I mean, not just conservatives, but conservative icons: Goldwater, Fannin, Kyl, McCain. Who among these are not the proper kind of conservatives? Would Mrs. Blewster, or the others that have talked about this, please tell me?

By the way, Blewster is not just a voice in the wilderness. She’s the president of our state’s Republican Assembly, the ones who love “RINO Hunts”. They are having a convention in Scottsdale in a few weeks. Plenty of material for smart-asses like me.

Pack Your Carpetbags!

I spoke with Katie Bolger today, she noticed that I did not link to Karin Uhlich’s website. I could say that I didn’t because I don’t live in her ward, or I could admit that I didn’t know her URL.

There is another Rum, Romanism and Rebellion site. Go figure. They even use the same template I do. They have been up for a while. The two people that do it seem a bit more conservative than I am. I hope the fact that there are two of us will not be a problem. If it is, the only way to settle these matters will be ritual combat.

I read in this morning’s Republic that Debra “Xena” Brimhall has been acquitted of charges stemming from an incident that occurred at last year’s Country Thunder Festival. One of the few privileges that state legislators enjoy here is a sort of immunity from some traffic violations when a legislator is on the way to the capitol. Debra, or some facsimile (she claimed it wasn’t her), tried to get out of the ticket by claiming that she was a legislator an couldn’t get a ticket. This brought up three problems:

  • Florence (the location of the festival) was not on Debra’s way to the capitol.
  • The legislature was not in session
  • Debra hadn’t been a member of the legislature for two years.

In the end, she claimed that she wasn’t at the festival, because she’s a “rocker.” I would poke fun at this, but she was seen at a recent Stan Ridgway show in Phoenix. This makes her not only a rocker, but a very discerning one.

Brimhall was a rather unique legislator. She once was told to put her shoes on during a session, but refused to because she loved the feel of the new carpet on her bare feet. There was talk about changing the legislature’s rather lax dress code because of the sometimes bizarre way she would dress. Once, I was up there to watch a session. She took to the microphone durring a vote and rambled. Finally she looked up to the tote board and said, “I’m going to keep talking until more of you vote yes.” It didn’t work. I was sitting next to a lobbyist who told me that she often does this. As we know, being an oddball has never been a barrier to serving in the Arizona legislature. Brimhall is planning on running for the State House again, this time from Mesa.

Some say that Brimhall’s first election was due to people being angry that Polly Rosenbaum was no longer really living in the district. Rosenbaum was a long time (really long time…she had served since the 1940’s) legislator from Globe, but there was grousing from her opponents that she was really living in Phoenix. Her defeat probably had more to do with opposition to Clinton’s environmental policies, it was 1994.

This brings me to my other topic (I bet you were wondering about that title). Sens. Karen Johnson and Linda Gray are planning to leave the Phoenix area and run in Greater Arizona. Johnson is planning to run against Bill Kopinicki (R-Safford) because Kopinicki is not sufficiently right-wing for her tastes (we know how liberal Safford is, right?). Gray is planning to move to Prescott, supposedly because she is retiring, but she is going to run for the legislature from up there.

Johnson has been in the house before, and her bouncing back and forth probably violates the spirit of the term-limit law. Heck, I think the term-limits should be trashed anyway, so I can’t complain too much. I’m not sure that they can actually move out of town without resigning their seats. I mean, how can they file to run from another town, while they are representing someplace else? Hopefully someone will bring this up.

There is a certain arrogance here. That somehow, you can just pick up and move and that the voters there should appreciate it. What the heck does Karen Johnson know about the voters in Eastern Arizona? I think she assumes that since they are conservatives, that they will love her. What she doesn’t appreciate is that Kopinicki votes the way he does for a reason. Yeah, his constituents are conservative, but there are needs that people in rural Arizona have, and Johnson is opposed to helping them out with them.

Rural Republicans that have marched in lockstep with the East Valley crowd have had very short legislative careers (Barbara Blewster, Gail Griffin). The reason for this is simple: the rural areas of the state are actually quite dependent on state programs. The largest employer in many of these towns is a state prison, a state transportation yard or some other sort of state facility. They are often dependent on the state for health care or agricultural services. One of the issues that Marsha Arzberger was able to use against Griffin was her vote to close the health clinics in her district. Griffin voted this way because the East Valley leadership didn’t see any need for those clinics; Mesa didn’t need them.

Unless someone changes the number of districts in this state, we could soon have a situation where no rural community will truly be represented by an actual rural resident. I guess Johnson and Gray want to see that sooner rather than later.