In his blog yesterday, AZ Republic columnist Bob Robb noted that Sen. Jerry Lewis, who is running as a moderate Republican in the newly redistricted LD26 (Tempe/Mesa) switched his no vote to a yes on the bill that put Prop 120 on the ballot.
Referred to the ballot by the Legislature, Prop. 120 tries to changes the terms and conditions under which Arizona became a state – 100 years later. That includes taking over the federal forests and parks and declaring federal environmental and land management laws null and void in Arizona.
Regardless of what one thinks about federal management of public lands and environmental laws, this is nutty stuff.
The solution to having too many right-wing wackos, we are told, is to elect more moderate Republicans who won’t do such stuff. Jerry Lewis is often held up as an example, having achieved a special status in the anti-wacko pantheon by dispatching Russell Pearce in the recall election.
Well, there’s an interesting story about Lewis and Prop. 120.
Turns out that the bill failed initially but Lewis flipped his vote in another round, which was enough to pass it. This is one of more than a few nutty right wing bills that Jerry Lewis voted for in 2012 after he defeated Russell Pearce in the recall election. Those of us who have pointed out Lewis’s not-very-moderate voting record are often admonished that we just don’t understand the importance of getting more sensible and rational representatives elected to the Legislature, or that we don’t appreciate the momentousness of Jerry Lewis ousting Russell Pearce last year. Neither of those things are true. The latter view is simply absurd, since as I’ve pointed out before, people are capable of holding two non-conflicting thoughts at once – that the recall of Russell Pearce was a good thing but that electing Republican Jerry Lewis to a different seat in a liberal-leaning district previously held by a Democrat is not.
As for the former view, I am not privy to Jerry Lewis’s innermost motivations. I’m told he’s very nice. I’m sure he is. He may truly be a moderate. But he has cast his lot with the Republican Party, which has become the habitat of radical reactionary conservatism. And that means that if you are a liberal or a moderate voter in LD26, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you cannot trust Jerry Lewis. Lewis has already demonstrated repeatedly this past session in the AZ Senate that he will vote with his fellow Republicans for some obnoxiously bad right wing bills. He will even sponsor some of them. Doesn’t really matter why he did those things, whether it was of his own accord or under pressure. He did them. And there’s no reason to believe he won’t do them again. The same caution applies to any Republican you’re considering voting for, including newly “moderate” Mitt Romney:
The second, and related, dynamic involves the inability of mainstream reporters to admit to, and account for, the radicalization of the Republican Party—whether it involves the candidates’ commitment to extremist ideology, or their refusal to allow observable reality to compete with their economic theories, their scientific ignorance, or their loyalty to billionaire funders like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson. So intense is journalists’ belief that they must find a way to blame “both sides” for whatever one candidate happens to say or do—whether it’s telling an outright lie, making a 180-degree change in position, or refusing to accept a simple economic or scientific fact—that the Republicans have largely been given a pass for the consequences of their Tea Party takeover. Writing to New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan, reader Richard Joffe described the situation with admirable acuity:
According to the media, both sides are equally to blame for refusing to make compromises, both sides are equally to blame for threatening political violence, and both sides are equally to blame for lying…. Although the Republican Party has grown increasingly indifferent to speaking truthfully, it has paid no price, just as it has paid no price for the violence of its language, and its refusal to compromise, because regarding each of these tendencies, the media continues to blame both parties equally.
This tendency not only creates a false “center” between the two parties—one in which ideologically driven, reality-denying and frequently paranoid conspiracy theories, together with outright, deliberate lies, are treated as perfectly legitimate positions from which members of the punditocracy feel compelled to demand “bipartisan” compromise from Obama and the Democrats. It also pretends that the ultimate contest will be fought out between two relatively moderate individuals, one who governs from center-left and one who can be expected to do so from center-right, as if President Romney will somehow not be answerable to the radicalized party he represents.
Yeah, and it further makes it clear that this is NOT about individual politician and their unique dispositions. Radical reactionary conservatism is a movement. And in the vast majority of cases a vote for a Republican is a vote to perpetuate it. It’s especially difficult to argue that someone like Jerry Lewis is going to transform his party when he’s going along with their most radical ideas so often.