Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Saturday, February 13, 2016

People Wonder Why Arizona Democrats are Ineffective? UPDATED 6:00pm MST 2-14-16

We don't even have to bicker about whether or not they (we) are ineffective in imposing the will of voters on public policy and lawmaking in the Great State of Arizona.

When was the last big victory? Not in the last two general elections (2012 or 2014).

Frankly, Arizona Democrats have had no major (political candidate) victories since November 2011. (Court victories are beside the point).

Nothing since the astounding expulsion, by the people, of hateful nativist Russell Pearce from the Arizona Senate.

Not that there weren't opportunities. A coalition -- ostensibly led by Arizona Democrats -- in 2013 succeeded in putting a Voter Suppression bill (HB2305) on the 2014 general election ballot. But the GOP-controlled legislature pulled the rug out from under Democrats who had captured the moral high ground when it repealed HB2305 as its first act in January 2014.

Now, emboldened by the fact that they have not effectively been challenged on any significant public policy issue or candidate campaign for statewide office since the repeal of HB2305, the GOP has renewed its campaign to suppress the vote with an in-your-face-mofo bill to make the act of assisting early voters in returning ballots a felony.

What do we hear from the Arizona Democratic Party? "Please sign our petition to let the legislature know you disapprove." Weak. Pathetic. Impotent. If anyone in leadership with or on staff of the ADP had a backbone, and a keyboard, they would have already been indignantly starting the ball rolling for the apparently necessary referendum drive to challenge HB2023, the latest in the ongoing series of efforts by #AZGOP to disenfranchise Arizonans.

By the way, there's blatant Special Interest lobbyist influence in the bill, as shown in the amendment adopted into the bill during Committee of the Whole floor debate after it had been heard in House Elections committee. The amendment added the following language,
Screw Democratic candidates and voters (which bill sponsor Michelle Ugenti-Rita admitted is the purpose of the bill), but heaven forbid we take away the rights of Big Ag to impose taxes on others to support their profits.

So, WHY is there no Democratic Party official or elected Democrat loudly proclaiming this to all citizens of our state? And why are none of them daring the GOP to pass this bill so that we can rile up the electorate for another referendum drive? This 2011 Huffington Post entry by Diane D'Angelo, a friend of the Arizona Eagletarian blog, may provide some insight.
The defeat of Pearce was the topic of du jour not just because it rendered him the first sitting Senate president in the nation and the first Arizona legislator ever to lose a recall election, but because of the awkward dynamics between Democratic Party establishment and former Senate Candidate Randy Parraz, the man who led the charge against Pearce.
Parraz, a charismatic UC Berkeley Law School grad and former union organizer, was openly shunned during his 2010 Senate campaign by corporate Democrats terrified of breaking away from their Republican-lite campaign strategies. Those tactics, while occasionally landing a winner like former Governor and now Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, have also rendered the party silent (and impotent) on racist anti-immigration bills like SB1070 and repeatedly demoralize activists drawn to the party on just such populist issues. In fact, the only thing differentiating mainstream Arizona Democrats from Republicans may be the Prius' in their driveways.
Party leaders also shied away from openly endorsing Parraz' successful effort to remove Pearce, as did several sitting Democratic electeds. When I verbally pondered why party leaders and electeds would not openly embrace the movement to remove our arch-nemesis, the response, paraphrased, was "If people know Democrats want Pearce to be gone, he'll stay in office." Hmmmm.
One could say there's an almost pathological self-loathing of Democratic values at play among Democratic State Committee members. Let's call it internalized Demophobia: the fear of actually letting people know that your leanings are decidedly left-of-center. The good news is that with the defeat of Pearce and the rise of the populist Occupy movement, it looks as if AZ Dems, while not quite ready to wave a donkey flag and hold a pride parade, are willing to let their GOP mom and dad know they've finally had enough.
Well, more than four years after D'Angelo's post was published, it doesn't look like the revolt took. Which brings us to this week.

As you know, the Democratic Presidential primary season is well underway throughout the country. In the deep summer heat last July, more than 11,000 people showed up for a rally in downtown Phoenix to hear what insurgent Political Revolutionary Bernie Sanders had to say. This was during Netroots Nation. Hillary couldn't even be bothered to speak to the annual convention of Progressive activists.

As of July 2015, she took neither Progressive activists nor Bernie Sanders seriously.

Well, now -- after what was really a tie in Iowa and a massive (22 point margin) victory for Bernie in New Hampshire, she's shitting bricks, spinning her wheels desperately trying to sound credible as she co-opts Bernie's positions on virtually every Progressive issue and having her surrogates dissemble on any and every thing they can think of in an effort to undermine the Sanders campaign.

It just ain't gonna work.

We do NOT have to

Or her message of No, we CAN'T.

Which further brings us to the ultimate point of this post. A group of Hillary supporters distributed a list of their names. Phoenix New Times writer Miriam Wasser published it (along with a list of Bernie supporters).

The list of Hillary endorsers contains at least one name that was already on the Bernie list, so take it with a modest grain of salt.

But those who actually are telling voters to settle for Hillary, in my view, are rejecting the need for cutting the ties to Wall Street, the Private Prison Industrial Complex, Big Pharma, and every other special interest Hillary depends on for her prominence.

That position indicates either inability or lack of willingness to recognize the American Spring now emerging in our country. Thus, it is both a symptom and an indicator of why both in Arizona and increasingly throughout the country, the Democratic Party is seen as impotent.

SHAME on Hillary. SHAME on Hillary's supporters.



By the way, if you WANT to understand the American Spring, take the opportunity, as soon as possible, to view Michael Moore's new movie, Where to Invade Next. Here's an image from the film, where Moore meets with the CEO of Ducati Motorcycle in Italy to discuss employee relations.


"One of the most genuinely, and valuably, patriotic films any American has ever made... Optimistic and affirmative, it rests on one challenging but invaluable idea: we can do better."
Godfrey Cheshire,

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE -- Really, my thoughts subsequent to publication

Let's apply the contrast between Bernie and Hillary to our situation here in Arizona. It's widely understood that Hillary's got big names and big money on her donor list. Yet, Bernie's average donation has been $27. Hillary uses shiny objects to keep you from pondering the ramifications of her being owned by Wall Street and other Special Interests.

Well, if you want to understand some of the "beneath the surface" reasons why the Arizona Democratic Party (the actual organization) itself accomplishes so little and has only a very feeble voice in our state, you might want to examine the funding sources that pay for party operations.

But that might not be so easy to do. As a member of the ADP state committee for the last three years, I've seen presentations -- during the meetings now held every four months -- on how much money it has. Or rather, how much it needs.

A couple of items not generally included in these presentations include a breakdown of the amount of individual contributions and the size and number of donations from Special Interests... for example, Arizona Public Service or Salt River Project.

If the state committee is ever going to be more than a facade that presents the appearance of democratic (yes, small "d") influence, these things must be subject to examination and brought into the sunlight.

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