Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Government is raw power... to do what?

Remember that priceless gem given to us a month or so ago by Arizona Senate President Andy Biggshot?
Government is raw power. Government is raw power. Government is not compassionate or merciful. That is left to individuals, but government is raw power where it imposes its will on people.
Of course, Biggshot seemed to be of the mind that he was fighting for small business and individual taxpayers when he made that statement which he (probably wrongfully) attributed to George Washington.

The usual meme he and his ilk use to rationalize and justify decimation of public education and every other function of Arizona government is "economic growth." For example, business reporter Russ Wiles writing in the Arizona Republic declared in February,
Arizona’s economic performance could outpace that of the nation this year, with the gap widening in 2015, according to a new report.
An economic update from BMO Capital Markets* [an investment bank, apparently invested first and foremost in propaganda] sees Arizona’s economy growing 3.2 percent this year and 3.5 percent next. Both results would beat the nation’s economy, which BMO expects to expand 2.9 percent in 2014 and 3 percent in 2015.
He hedged, however, writing during the time between when the legislature passed SB1062 and when Gov. Brewer vetoed the bill.
SB 1062 hasn’t yet been signed or vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. Critics fear a backlash that could include a loss of tourism and convention business that would crimp the state’s economic growth.
Setting aside the Dominionist bent of many of our GOP lawmakers, what do we REALLY get from the kind of policies that Biggshot and his GOP comrades have pushed on Arizona the last couple of decades? From (a website maintained by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy)
Measured by gross product per employee or earnings per employee, Arizona’s productivity is further below the national average than in the past. On all indicators of individual prosperity, such as per capita personal income and average wage, Arizona is below the national average—and generally has lost ground over time. Individual prosperity, sometimes referred to as economic well-being, is the ultimate goal to which communities strive. (emphasis mine)
So, what's the REAL point Biggshot was making with his hubristic declaration of power?

Surprisingly, or maybe not, the most poignant -- and salient -- insight we can get to understand the dynamics of the GOP dominating Arizona politics over the years can be found in the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli. Conservapedia's article on the Italian Renaissance political theorist states,
During his time and long afterward, Machiavelli was considered to have been inspired by the devil, and his name has been used for centuries to describe the use or approval of unscrupulous, self-serving political action. The Prince made "Machiavellian" a byword for deceit, despotism and political manipulation, as in a politician who spends all his time and effort on obtaining and retaining power for himself. 
Was Machiavelli a Machiavellian? The question much debated by scholars is whether Machiavelli intended The Prince to be an actual guide book in how to be a ruthless tyrant, or--as most scholars argue--wrote it as a warning to republican citizens... Machiavelli, most scholars believe, was dedicated to republicanism as the best form of government and opposed tyranny. The Prince was a warning that it could happen like this if citizens let down their guard.
Arizona voters will no longer be caught letting their guard down because we NOW can see through the BULLSHIT propagated by Andy Biggshot and others of his ilk.

From Machiavelli's Discourses, as set forth by University of Chicago political scientist John P McCormick, in Machiavellian Democracy (2011),
Machiavelli consistently entwines popular morality with civic ideals like "common good" and "public freedom" (D I.4) For instance, he insists: "The desires of free peoples are rarely pernicious to freedom because they arise either from being oppressed or from suspicion that they may be oppressed." ... Thus, the people prove two of Machiavelli's points in this incident: they exhibit an oppressive appetite only in response to oppression inflicted upon them; and they do so honestly, overtly, without any trace of subterfuge or guile...
After all, the empirical evidence marshalled by Machiavelli suggests that aristocrats rely on such qualities, and on the material advantages resulting from them, first and foremost to oppress others, to overturn regimes, and not to rule wisely or advance the common good...
These elections... underscore how indispensable for good government are the people's active challenges to elite privilege... (emphasis mine)
Andy Biggshot left us no question, he does NOT advocate in favor of the common good.

Perhaps the best reflection on this type of "leadership" came recently from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D- MA), who summed it up when she called out the GOP,
The Republican vision is clear: "I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own."
Some might not like it when Sen. Warren or other voices standing against the oppression speak up, but there can be no mistaking that this was the essence of Andy Biggshot's message that day debating the FY2015 state budget.

By the way, it's so easy for people who only look at the current state of affairs in America to be cynical and pessimistic. They may point to an apathetic electorate. But when these same people lift up their eyes and look to history -- after all, there is NO NEW thing under the sun -- the shadow lifts and light shines on a brighter future.

The cure for apathy is empowerment. Machiavelli empowers not The Prince, but the popolo (the people). Ideas and insight are powerful things.
That prince is highly esteemed who conveys this impression of himself, and he who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against; for, provided it is well known that he is an excellent man and revered by his people, he can only be attacked with difficulty. 
I say that every prince must desire to be considered merciful and not cruel.
Andy Biggshot is a prince not highly revered by his people. And he projected himself as not even considering mercy as having a place in his principality. His authority will be challenged, mightily. In fact, if Democrats pick up three seats (do-able) in this year's election, he will be kicked off of his throne (senate presidency).


This takes us back to the contentious fights over redistricting, still going on in court, over the current maps. Rather than fight for the common good, the various Republicans who have been plaintiffs in each of the three lawsuits have instead been fighting over the privilege of NOT having to even appeal to the common good in elections. If they win these lawsuits, it's easy to surmise, they can rest assured they may safely ignore the interests of the people in policy and lawmaking and still retain their raw government power.

So far, however, they've been handed losses in two of the three lawsuits. The other suit may have been abandoned. One of the losses has already been appealed to the Supreme Court. The other may be appealed soon.

Nevertheless, arrogance in how they conducted themselves (GOP state lawmakers) in the 2014 legislative session demonstrated profound indifference to the common good. Citing just one example for each of three GOP candidates for senate seats this year (two of whom are incumbents, one is the term limited House Appropriations chairman), I believe these three are demonstrably vulnerable this year.

I realize it's a longshot. But it's very possible. One need only look to how the Alt-fuels debacle ended the political career of former House Speaker Jeff Groscost. In 2002, Democrat Jay Blanchard defeated Groscost in Gilbert for a seat in the Senate. That election had major ramifications on the senate for the next term.

The people, even rank and file Republican voters, don't like to be taken for fools. But Yarbrough, Yee and Kavanagh didn't think of that when they were working against the interests of the people.

Therefore, go forth Arizona Democrats, tell the story with confidence and clarity. The future, depending on climate change, is bright.


BMO Capital Markets is part of one of North America’s largest universal banks as measured by assets (#8) and market capitalization (#9); published by Bloomberg as of Mar 15, 2012.

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