Now Janet Napolitano heads to Washington, leaving not much of a legacy in Arizona, despite what the Sewing Circle cult of personality would have us believe. She was a victim of her native caution and the unwillingness to take on issue No. 1 (land use and all its permutations, including sprawl and water) -- to do otherwise would have caused the Real Estate Industrial Complex to destroy her ambitions. Michael Lacey has some further trenchant thoughts on immigration policy and deals with devils. But the biggest reason for Napolitano's failure is simply that the Legislature is by far the most powerful branch of government (the second being the media-ignored Corporation Commission). And the Legislature is dominated by kooks.
Now they will have one of their own as Secretary of State Jan Brewer ascends to the governorship. This is change I can believe in. Brewer is a member of the Kookocracy, having politicized the office charged with the integrity of elections. Except for Attorney General Terry Goddard, Arizona will now have an all-Kookocracy leadership. And I say, go for it. I want no Jane Hull-like temporizing or moments of sanity from Gov. Brewer. I want her to lead Arizona into the brave future that the minority who actually votes has consistently demanded.
This is the state where the most popular politician is Joe Arpiao, the civil-liberties-optional sheriff of Maricopa County. The state where Andrew Peyton Thomas won a resounding re-election as Maricopa County Attorney. Both have waged a thuggish war on the poor, underclass and minorities in the guise of "fighting illegal immigration." Funny, I have yet to see a big construction mogul or developer do a perp walk for hiring them by the hundreds.
It's time for Arizona to get the government it deserves.
Although constitutional weak and risk-averse, Napolitano served as a fire wall against the worst excesses of the Kookocracy, from attempts at eliminating the Department of Environmental Quality to encouraging and legalizing guns in bars. Yet she could make little progress forward -- even her achievements will be quickly undone. Arizona doesn't deserve half measures.
Do it all, Kookocracy. Remove what little environmental protections the state has, and be sure to further cut -- privatize and sell off! -- state parks. Cut taxes. More money must be diverted from the public schools to your friends who run the charter-school racket. Cut taxes again! Of course, be sure to enhance that tax break for rich people who want to donate to their affluent, all-Anglo districts. Cut more taxes!! More private prisons must be built, of course. And guns -- I want them everywhere, and especially in the hands of people even nuttier than you. Go after the Latinos even more, and don't forget the gays. Defund transit. More roads and sprawl. And did I say tax cuts? Get that government in the bathtub and strangle it! Don't go wobbly on me now.
For years the extreme Republicans -- who totally control the state GOP (even sensible people like Tom Horne cower and do their bidding) -- have been complaining about being stymied. Napolitano or whatever excuse was keeping them from bringing the "conservative" promised land to Arizona. Now they can do it. They must do it. We have 50 state laboratories of democracy -- let's see what creatures this one lets escape into the village.
There will be losers, of course. The state's slow-moving effort to have a piece of the biotech action will be dead (it really only happened in the first place because of the city of Phoenix's efforts). Cities will be punished with less funding and a hostility to addressing urban issues. Students -- screw 'em unless they live in the white 'burbs. Universities. Transit. Economic development. The Department of Water Resources. All socialist plots anyway. Real Americans live in master planned communities in real American places like Gilbert and Chandler, not in leftist, gay, urban crime dens like Willo and Palmcroft.
But think of the winners. The Kookocracy will be richly rewarded by the Real Estate Industrial Complex for relaxing what petty restrictions remain on sprawl everywhere. The same from the East Valley/LDS "business community" and "school choice" hucksters. Militarized law enforcement will boom. Gun sales will skyrocket. The ironically named Goldwater Institute can be the Wolfowitzes of the Brewer Revolution.
Let's see what happens. I think it will be a disaster, but one of the biblical proportions necessary to (perhaps) wake up the majority of Arizonans to reality -- and to radicalize Latinos -- and get all of them to the polls. It might finally discredit the Birch/Mecham right-wing that has done so much to damage and hold back Arizona. Even if you remove the venal hidden agendas and vicious bigotry from the Kookocracy's agenda, it faces a big problem.
Arizona is not Wyoming, with 515,000 people spread out over 97.000 square miles. Arizona is a populous, highly urbanized state with complex urban problems, competing in a world economy. It may soon be the second most populous state in the West. The old growth machine is never coming back -- and if it does, it will be a death rattle. Arizona's economy is uncompetitive, its land use a disaster, its infrastructure and demographic challenges immense and its water situation a waiting calamity. The Kookocracy has nothing to address this reality.
Of course as they fail, they can blame outsiders. Obama. The media. Democrats in Congress. But right now, it's time to give Arizona's voters what they deserve.
Read Rogue's Phoenix and Arizona Archive.