Thanks to the landmark SB 1070 bill Gov. Jan Brewer signed on Friday, Arizona is garnering national and international attention — and with it, required scrutiny from “Saturday Night Live” and the “The Daily Show.”
It’s like the honorary degree gaffe with President Barack Obama all over again (which, interestingly, was going on just around this time a year ago). This time ASU isn’t under the glaring spotlight honed in on our state, but Obama is again positioning himself to be centrally involved all the same. The guy’s got a knack for stealing headlines.
As Brewer was preparing to sign SB 1070, Obama seized an opportunity and called the measure “misguided” in a speech at the White House. Obama, honoring his commitment in his commencement address last year to never stop adding to his body of work, is pledging to work hard for national immigration reform so more bills like SB 1070 don’t gain traction.
A visit to the Capitol this past week would lead you to believe most Arizonans stand with the president and against this bill. Thousands of protestors rallied at the Capitol in hopes of deterring Brewer from supporting the legislation that will allow a police officer to ask individuals whom they stop to provide documents proving they aren’t here illegally — if the officer has reasonable suspicion the person might not have entered the country through legal channels.
The protestors pleaded for Brewer to consider the human rights implications and unconstitutionality of the bill, but considering she’s signed 147 bills this legislative session and vetoed only four, their efforts were expectedly futile.
In truth, she had no choice but to sign it. The protesters flooding Capitol Mall are not a good reflection on how our state feels about the legislation. A poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports released last week makes it clear Arizonans do support the immigration bill, with a whopping 70 percent saying they were in favor of it.
Yet 45 percent of Arizona voted for Obama to be president a year and a half ago, even though this is John McCain’s state. Obama is one of the most liberal presidents to serve in the highest office, but Arizona feigned purple on election night. Now, more than two-thirds of Arizonans are supporting, depending who you ask, a very conservative, racist or unconstitutional measure.
What’s changed in less than two years to remove any shade of purple from Arizona? To prompt the state to go from almost supporting a liberal intellectual to a bill that is the antithesis of what Obama stands for?
Is it the health care reform that was passed? Arizona tends to be libertarian, but, again, Obama made it very clear during his election battles with Hillary Clinton and McCain that health care was very high up on his to-do list.
So, why the backlash?
If the “birther bill” that’s passed both the Arizona House and Senate is any indication, the Republican Party is masterfully doing what it does best: using fear to incite irrational and radical ideology and curry favor on divisively partisan issues.
The immigration issue in Arizona is a complex one, but a simple common denominator is hijacking state politics. Both the immigration and birther bills are propped up on a foundation of fear — fear that illegal immigrants are making neighborhoods unsafe and siphoning jobs from lawful citizens, or a hackneyed notion that our mixed-race president wasn’t born in America.
Either way, after SB 1070’s passage, we all have something to fear.
Reach Dustin at email@example.com