From Harper’s Magazine, an online article by Ken Silverstein which ought to make every Arizonan wince, particularly in the wake of Saturday’s terrible events in Tucson.
His take isn’t a pretty one, but it seems likely to be the first of many similar condemnations from concerned people in the rest of the country and elsewhere in the world. Here’s a sample:
The general unsightliness of the capitol makes it a fitting home for today’s Arizona legislature, which is composed almost entirely of dimwits, racists, and cranks. Collectively they have bankrupted the state through a combination of ideological fanaticism on the Republican right and acquiescence and timidity on the part of G.O.P. moderates and Democrats. Although dozens of states are facing budget crises, the situation in Arizona is arguably the nation’s worst, graver even than in California. A horrific budget deficit has been papered over with massive borrowing and accounting gimmickry, and the state may yet have to issue IOUs to employees and vendors. All-day kindergarten has been eliminated statewide, and some districts have adopted a four-day school week. Arizona’s state parks, despite bringing in 2 million visitors and $266 million annually, have lost 80 percent of their budget, with up to two thirds of the parks now in danger of closure. The legislature slashed the budget for the Department of Revenue, which required the agency to fire hundreds of state auditors and tax collectors; lawmakers boasted that these measures saved $25 million, but a top official in the department estimated that the state would miss out on $174 million in tax collections as a result.
Is this a fair assessment of our legislature, and of our Democratic Party? Fair or not, I suspect that if we don’t redouble our efforts to talk some sense into our neighbors, this is likely to become the consensus view of our state. Not a happy thought, is it?