Please excuse the following snappish, non-partisan post-election commentary…
President Barack Obama called the beatdown his party took last Tuesday a “shellacking,” one of those great words attributable to the process of applying a finish to wood … for its preservation.
Indeed, the Democrats took a decisive beating, nationally and in Arizona, where the Republicans captured all five top state offices, the U.S. Senate seat once again, and dominant majorities in the Legislature.
Republican Sen. Al Melvin, who bested Democrat Cheryl Cage by a significant margin in District 26, said the GOP gap in the Legislature is “veto proof.” Apparently, that’s needed even though the newly elected governor, Jan Brewer, is herself a Republican. Brewer and the Legislature won’t disagree on much, other than who has power.
Cage said she and others in her party were caught in a national “hurricane” of sentiment against Democrats. Sure, it was tough to run as a Democrat, but maybe they brought it on themselves. In Southern Arizona, two Democrats won, Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva, incumbent Congressmen fueled by funding from erstwhile sports commentator Keith Olbermann, and able to overcome conservative, inexperienced political opponents.
Giffords, who beat far right Republican Jesse Kelly by not much, expects gridlock in Washington, with a GOP House, a barely Democratic Senate and, of course, Obama in the White House. Giffords wonders if gridlock is OK in Congress while reforms to health care and financial services take effect. Yes, Americans want checks and balances in Washington, and they’ve made that clear. Yet gridlock means nothing moves. Is that what America wants? Political inertia? The only change we have to fear is change itself.
Republican Terri Proud — nice person, single mom of two — led the District 26 vote, and we congratulate her. Now, she must climb the steep learning curve of issues, of legislating, and of representing. With Proud’s election, Republican Rep. Vic Williams retains his place as the most moderate member of the District 26 delegation. That bears repeating — Williams, the most moderate legislator. Democratic Rep. Nancy Young Wright, who has finished third and out if the results hold up through late vote-counting, was far less moderate, and the voters believe less effective, along with District 25 Democratic incumbents Rep. Pat Fleming and Sen. Manny Alvarez. Incumbent Democrats lost because they didn’t appear to be part of a solution, minority party or otherwise.
Giffords doesn’t think the vote was a mandate for Republicans. That’s not what the Republicans think. You’ll see, nationally, the GOP chip back at health care reform, first, and at anything Obama wants beyond that. Beyond the stimulus package, health care reform may have been the Democrats’ biggest mistake these last two years. It became personal for too many people. The Democrats could have fixed parts of the health care system, rather than force dramatic change upon confused, frightened Americans.
Arizona has stepped further right, and in an economic climate with continually declining government revenues, you’re going to see more cuts in spending. Fine. When schools and universities get trimmed once more — it’s going to happen — education proponents shall screech. Trouble is, the majority of citizens may not hear. They have chosen conservative representation, and therefore a conservative path.
Melvin and Proud talk about how Arizona needs more taxpayers, not more taxes. We’re not sure what that means. Grow our way out of a recession? Optimal, but not simple when this largely residential economy needs … more taxpayers. Chickens and eggs are at play. “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” Melvin says. “How, how, how?” we might respond, doing “what, what, what?” The Democrats say “solar energy.” Idealistic, but how immediately practical?
We’re pleased to see the voters of Marana Unified School District pass a $43 million bond issue. First, help thyself. We support the voters’ decisions to protect funding for open space conservation, and for First Things First children’s programs. Medical marijuana may be snuffed out. It might be too politically painful, anyway.
We’re grateful to all who put themselves before the voters on Nov. 2. It is difficult, thankless, essential duty.
Thank a veteran, and remember all of them, this Thursday, Veterans Day. And thanks for reading.