I live in the American Southwest – specifically, Arizona. Our sunsets are legend, with fiery glowing streaks slicing through the red, orange, and yellow sky on the horizon, finally settling into a deep purple as the sun drifts out of sight. I watched one of those sunsets a few days ago. It was a perfect metaphor for what is happening to my beloved desert state.
Arizona has always been a politically solid red state, consistently counted on to be a GOP stronghold despite some fairly embarrassing local elections here (think Janet Napolitano) and Democratic-Lite mushes like John McCain that never seem to be voted out of office. Ignoring acts of insanity like these, why is Arizona now being described as a possible swing state, or an almost-purple state?
I agree that the usual suspects are valid excuses for some of this problem. Illegal immigration, liberal migration from other parts of the country, and the solid number of always-uninformed electorate are all players in the game. However, those players have been here a long time. There has to be more to this story.
Recently, much hullabaloo was made over the fact that The Arizona Republic newspaper endorsed Hillary Clinton. Eyes grew wide, jaws dropped, and coffee mugs simultaneously crashed to the floor all over the country, because for the first time in over 100 years, a “Republican” paper endorsed a Democrat!
Allow me to bring some sanity to this shocker. This is hardly a shocker. The Arizona Republic has not been anywhere near a conservative-leaning publication for as long as I can honestly remember. I’m not really sure why anyone cares who a newspaper endorses anymore, but I can tell you that it does not mean that the Democrats are running the state now. How brave of the Arizona Republic to endorse a candidate most people despise, only because the other candidate is equally as despicable.
Allow me to offer up my humble thoughts on my humble state’s wobble into purple town.
Beginning in March 2014, the number of registered Independents in Arizona exceeded numbers registered with any other recognized party in the state. It remains so. A study published in November 2015 by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy unveiled that 73.3 percent of those majority Independents were moderates. This is important. For a Constitutional conservative, a state loaded with Independent moderates is truly a face palm moment. Independent moderates tend to stand on shaky ground when it comes to major issues like immigration, debt, military, and social policy.
I have three adjectives for moderates: Pliable, Unstable, and Purposeless. They also historically tend to have a low turn out at the polls in major elections, perhaps because they are pliable, unstable, and purposeless. This is a group that has no discernible platform of agreement, other than disgust with the two-party system. I too share that disgust, but I also need to have a goal and specific major issues I am fighting for.
I did a little digging and found that across the country registered Independents are growing as a voting bloc. In fact, it is the fastest growing group of people who register to vote. This makes perfect sense. Both major political parties have proven themselves to be beyond redemption, and many of their long-time supporters have simply had enough. Many new voters don’t know which party to pledge support for, so they choose Independent. I too flipped to Independent many years ago, so this is not a finger-pointing session. I get the reasons.
Here in Arizona, the majority of that group are also moderates, which are just Democrats in waiting. Give them a leftist emotional issue to fight for, and they will. There is no such thing as a Constitutional conservative moderate. A moderate, by definition, is someone who is mediocre, medium, calm, and not excessive or intense. In other words, avoids conflict and does not have strong views one way or another. These are people waiting for a reason to vote for somebody. They aren’t stupid, and they aren’t the enemy, and they are absolutely salvageable.
The average American citizen who does not spend hours each week wading into the swamp of politics is utterly confounded. Who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys, and why? Imagine trying to actually learn anything from the half-truths, filtered facts, and outright lies that your average person hears or sees.
The American media is a disgrace, truly now the equivalent of a state-run propaganda machine. Even so-called political websites have chosen sides so fervently that the truth seldom gets printed, because no one cares to figure out what the truth is anymore. I don’t even want to discuss the failure of many in conservative talk radio.
In 2016, the Republicans and Democrats are basically holding hands and skipping over the torn remnants of the Constitution, both heading in the same direction while at the same time screaming that they aren’t. Imagine trying to decide who to vote for looking at that spectacle.
Honestly, I am tired of the entire concept of blue states and red states, because that describes Democrat or Republican, and both need to be kicked to the curb of history. Arizona, along with other states, is turning purple because it reflects the loss of attachment to blue or red. We aren’t suddenly loaded with Democrats. We are loaded with people belonging nowhere.
When the brilliant standards of the Constitution are not front and center, people will drift left. They have no foundation that moors them to the truth. Instead, the party and candidate that has the slickest circus act wins the vote.
Many of us believe that it is time to walk away from blue and red, and move into a new colorless political era for America. The Constitution has no color reflecting what party it should belong to. All parties should be claiming the Constitution, and right now none of them are.
The rise in Independents isn’t about left or right. It’s about confusion and anger. The answer is the Constitution brought to life again. It’s on life support, folks.
Image Credit: Jansen Gunderson