Make Arizona Great Again

Make Arizona Great Again

[A couple months ago I was asked to give a speech on the topic of Making Arizona Great Again.  Here’s what I wrote.]

What do we need to do to make Arizona great again?

This is an interesting question, particularly given the campaign that most recently asked us to make something great again.  It has caused me to reflect quite a bit.  Do I believe Arizona has ever been better than it is now?

It is worth saying that in considering this question, I confined myself to the time period since Arizona became a state.  It is possible the answers would be different if I considered when Arizona was a territory, or when it was controlled by Mexico, or by the Native Americans before that, but I’m not going to contemplate that right now.

So I asked myself a lot of questions.  

  • Was there ever a time when more Arizonans had better healthcare than they do now?
  • Was there ever a time when our black community was treated more fairly than they are now?
  • Was there ever a time when our Native American community was treated fairly than they are now?
  • Was there ever a time when our women were treated more fairly than they are now?
  • Was there ever a time when our LGBTQ community was treated more fairly than they are now?
  • Was there ever a time when peaceful drug users could have those experiences without fear of the law?
  • Was there ever a time when we treated the environment better than we do now?
  • Was there ever a time when our corrections system was more effective at reforming people who had made serious mistakes?

I answered “no” to all of these questions.  In doing so, I take little satisfaction.  The fact that we have never been better at grappling with these issues than we are now does not mean there is no need to grapple with these issues.  It simply means that there is no making Arizona great again, there is only making Arizona greater going forward.  

I have spoken and written at length about many of my policies and positions that will bring about this vision of a greater Arizona, including:

  • I am fighting to make sure no Arizonans lose health insurance, and to expand coverage to include those who don’t have it now.
  • I support BLM, the NAACP, tribal councils, Chicanos por la Causa, and other organizations focused on obtaining justice for our ethnic and racial minorities.
  • I support Planned Parenthood, equal pay for women, and other initiatives focused on our female community
  • I am fighting for statewide employment protections that protect our LGBTQ community, and I support the ACLU, 1 in 10, and the myriad of other organizations that fight for LGBTQ and other initiatives.
  • I advocate for legal recreational marijuana.
  • I support the expansion of solar, wind, and other forms of clean energy.
  • I am a strong advocate for corrections reform, including a vast reduction in our prison population and in our mandatory sentencing laws, and switching to evidence-based reform programs that prioritize restitution over punishment.

So we’ve made a lot of progress on many issues, and I’ve outlined a plan to see us make even more progress going forward.  But is everything better than it was?  I don’t actually think so.  Here are some of the other questions I asked myself.  Answer them with me if you will:

  • Was there ever a time when Arizonans had more economic prosperity than they do now?
  • Was there ever a time when Arizonans had a better education system than they do now?
  • Was there ever a time when our elections were untainted by voter suppression and nasty partisanship?
  • Was there ever a time when our government was more fiscally responsible than it is now?
  • Was there ever a time when our immigrant community was treated more fairly than they are now?

I answered “yes” to all these questions.  I think we can make Arizona great again when it comes to these issues, and I have specific policies and positions that support returning Arizona to greatness on these issues:

  • I support policies that create a great economic environment for small businesses and entrepreneurs, not just giant corporations.  Median family income in Arizona is still lower than it was in the 2000s.  A jobless recovery is no recovery at all.  And a recovery where people have jobs making less than they made a decade ago is no recovery at all.  Working in Arizona must work for everyone.
  • Our current governor is the architect of taking billions of dollars out of the public education system over the last several years.  I have been an Arizona public school student from Kindergarten through my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ASU.  We must begin fully funding public school again!  As Governor, I would have vetoed the ESA voucher bill, and I strongly encourage you to vote no when that issue comes up on the ballot in November 2018.
  • I will fight against voter suppression, and against the legislature’s attempts to restrict our right to citizen-led initiative, referendum, and recall.  I would have vetoed HB2404 and HB2244, 2 laws that the Govenor signed this last legislative session that discourage citizen participation.
  • Government debt in Arizona is out of control. We cannot continue to tax our children for the benefits we enjoy today.  I will insist on a balanced budget that pays down debt as quickly as possible.
  • I will fight to create a clear path to citizenship for people who came here without documents, and make it easier for new immigrants to get proper authorization to come here.  I will fight against Trump’s immigration policies and laws like SB1070.

For each issue we face, I am fighting for the right policies that will either make Arizona great for the first time or return Arizona to the great state it used to be.  I hope I can count on your support in making that vision a reality for all of us.  Thank you.

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