Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Arizona, is this the Leadership You Want?

Arizona, like the rest of the nation, felt the wrath of the Tea Party last November. Demanding “where are the jobs” and screaming “socialism”, they turned out to “take their country back”. Their anger swept a new brand of leadership into political offices of all types.

We Arizonans know that we were one of the hardest hit states by the economic collapse of 2008. For years prior, we had enjoyed explosive economic growth fueled by the housing bubble and related economic sectors. Once it burst, there was no saving our state from rapid decline. Those who rode the Tea Party wave cashed in on the stagnant economy, and promised better days ahead.

Since their election, Arizona Republicans have done nothing to help ease the pain of everyday Arizonans or create jobs. Bound by their strict ideology, the governing majority has not made a single good faith effort to create jobs. Rather, they have used the jobs crisis as an excuse to gut our social safety net and to wage culture war.

For those who govern Arizona, ideology trumps reality, and as a state, we will pay a long-term price. Instead of working on solutions, our Republican leaders have gone out of their way time and time again to make sure that those on the bottom suffer the most.

Every economist that isn’t on the Heritage Foundation’s payroll will tell you that a robust safety net is critical for keeping a recession from becoming a depression. This fact didn’t save Arizona’s Medicaid program AHCCCS, nor did it save unemployment benefits from the Tea Party’s chopping block. Arizona Republicans are determined to squeeze one segment of their constituents as hard as they can; the very same jobless citizens they ran on helping.

Republicans downtown will object, saying that they passed a “jobs bill” just this year. The bill in question, of course, does nothing to create jobs. It was merely a thinly veiled giveaway to corporations in the form of a tax cut they don’t need. Is there any doubt that this tax cut will cause larger state deficits in the coming years, and thus will be used an excuse to further cut services?

On the federal level, Arizona’s leadership isn’t any better. Our Tea Party freshmen march in cynical lockstep with party leadership. Not unexpectedly they’ve joined our senators in playing high stakes political games with the economy.

2012 is rapidly approaching, and there is a cloud looming over Arizona. Things haven’t gotten better as promised. People are suffering. Our state is struggling. At home, our politicians engage in pander-before-policy governance, and in D.C., they play political brinksmanship with our collective future.

In a time of great crises and uncertainty the officials who are supposed to serve us on both the state and national level are more interested in rewarding their campaign donors and fighting the same stale culture wars than actually working for the betterment of our great state and country.

As Arizonans, we have some very serious questions to ask ourselves before we cast our next ballot, but there is one that should be first and foremost in our minds.

What kind of leadership do we want?

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