Take State Senator Kelly Townsend, a far-right Republican whose absurd ideas include, most recently, using vigilantes to monitor the ballot boxes in future terms. Four years ago, in the days following the rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, she compared mass shooters to women having abortions: Neither, a she says, has no respect for human life.
After the murders at Robb Elementary, Townsend suggested we arm “everyone in our schools, whether it’s veterans volunteering, whether it’s police, whether it’s arming teachers.” His colleague, State Sen. Rick Gray, GOP Majority Leader, said school shootings happen because “for decades we’ve been teaching our kids in school that there’s no has no God”.
Meanwhile, calls from Democrats to action on 13 stalled gun control bills – one of which includes prohibiting certain perpetrators of domestic violence from owning firearms, which I think is a no-brainer – have been completely ignored. Such is the predicament for Democrats of being the minority in both legislative houses in a deeply polarized purple state where extremists are not only the loudest, but increasingly the dominant voices in Republican politics.
Case in point: Governor Doug Ducey, a conservative who didn’t go to the deep end, was unlucky to pass a bill that would allow judges to take guns away from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. His Republican colleagues in the House have twice refused to advance him.
I spoke to the Sen state. Raquel Terán (D), whose journey to elected office grew out of her role as a community organizer fighting for immigration reform at a time when Arizona became a national symbol of intolerance. She framed the mainstream version of Republican politics in Arizona these days around control — “control of our bodies, control of what we read and speak in schools.” (Gun control? Not so much.)
This raises an interesting irony. Some Republicans say teachers should be able to carry guns in class and teach about religion, but they can’t be trusted to speak openly to students about issues of race and ethnicity. According to a bill recently approved by the House, violators could lose their teaching license. As a state senator. Christine Marais (D), a former teacher of the year, said so eloquently, “Give me a break.”
Arizona is far from the only battleground state, but it may be where the pendulum has swung the most to the right since 2020. That’s when voters in the Arizona chose a Democrat for president for only the second time since they chose Harry S. Truman in 1948 (the other was Bill Clinton).
Former President Donald Trump still enjoys strong popularity in Arizona. With term limits, Ducey is serving her second and final term, and the leading Republican gubernatorial candidate, a journalist-turned-conspiracy theorist named Kari Lake, features Trump’s image and endorsement on her campaign signs.
Terán, whose Senate district is one of the most diverse in the state, grew up in Douglas, a small town in Arizona on the US-Mexico border that resembles Uvalde. They are both working-class communities with about 16,000 residents who are mostly Hispanic.
She stood silently on the floor of the State Senate the other day, holding a collage of photos of the 19 children murdered in Uvalde; two teachers also died. She told me she was worried about collapsing, so she let other fellow Democrats do the talking.
She cried when we spoke a few days later, telling me about her mother, who works in a school cafeteria, and her nieces and nephews, whose faces remind her of the children killed in Uvalde. “My neighbors in Douglas, my constituents, are the people of Uvalde,” she said.
She lists some of their needs: a reliable and sustainable water supply; a strategy to mitigate wildfires that pose a deadly threat in parts of the state; and affordable housing. Phoenix and its surrounding communities saw the nation’s largest increase in the cost of living in April over the same month last year and saw one of the largest rent increases since the start of 2021.
“People can’t afford housing,” Terán said.
I asked her what she would do if she had a magic wand. She paused, talked about meeting basic needs, but then settled on something less tangible, but, in many ways, more important: “I would protect our democracy. »
The threat is real. On Thursday, Trump backed Republican Blake Masters in the U.S. Senate race to oust Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly. The former president praised Masters for supporting his stolen election fantasy.