Illustration by Carl Muecke
Outside of a few "elitist" blue enclaves, the United States is headed toward resembling the state we find revealed each week by journalists on Rogue's Arizona's Continuing Crisis. Let me count the ways:
• We're now a one-party nation, with the presidency, House, and Senate in the hands of hardcore right-wing Republicans. Soon the courts will be dominated by Federalist Society judges to validate whatever laws the GOP passes.
• We have a businessman as chief executive. Government is not a business and shouldn't be run like one, but here we are. In the case of America, it is fittingly a developer instead of an ice-cream chain CEO. Arizonans only know the language of developers, so this should be familiar ground. So should the lack of competence by a president with absolutely no public-sector experience and his contempt for it.
• Hostility to immigrants and white majoritarianism are driving policy and keeping the all-important base energized.
• The National Rifle Association is making policy with no Democrat in the White House to veto the madness. Hence, Donald Trump reversed a rule preventing gun purchases by the mentally ill. Can guns in bars and a national concealed-carry "right" be far behind?
• Ideology, rather than pragmatism, rules. As a result, taxes must always be cut, regulations must always be rolled back and minimal, government is the enemy and must be under-funded to a level to ensure its failure and produce the feedback loop proving its worthlessness. This has proved catastrophic for Arizona where, for example, infrastructure is decades behind needs. Nationally, we're still feeling the consequences of the Reagan and W tax and funding cuts. Now it's going to get really bad.
• The Democrats are powerless. Being in the minority sucks.
• Vote suppression is carried out to ensure the continued rule of the right, cloaked by the patina of democracy.
• The charter-school racket thrives. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a champion of this doomsday machine for public education. When the New York Times sought an place that exemplified the disasters that policies such as tax vouchers produce, it naturally focused on Arizona.
• Kleptocracy sets in. For decades, politically connected Arizonans — even legislators — have enriched themselves by various hustles: charter schools, private prisons, building freeways long after they were needed, and especially the Real Estate Industrial Complex. Legislation, back-scratching, and shadowy deals such as public-land swaps ensured this. Trump's America is enriching the president like the head of a banana republic — he's already in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution — and his crony capitalist gaggle, including ones such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with ties to Russia.
• Science and knowledge are sidelined. Arizona has spent decades cutting funding to its universities. It eagerly embraced Palinism, where pointy-headed intellectuals were "elitists" trying to tell Real Americans how to live their lives. Rigorous study of Arizona's water situation and vulnerabilities to climate change can get a person kicked out of the state. Now it's national policy. Trump is a denier of mainstream science on climate. NOAA, one of the premier agencies keeping track of climate change, is already being defunded by Trump. It's a sign of what's to come. Trump doesn't read books.
• "Enemies" must be identified and silenced or sidelined. Arizona doesn't like boat-rockers. Even newspaper columnists who hope to remain viable must stay within the invisible fence (for example, don't write about sprawl, water, or history). It's sunny! Why wouldn't you want to go hiking Camelback on a 110-degree summer day? Raising questions labels one an enemy of this paradise, a helpful way for those in power to divert attention from what's really going on. "Talton hates Arizona." Now, Trump-Bannon are doing this on a monumental scale to usher in their new authoritarianism.
• Republicans believe in "local control" as a matter of faith — except when they don't. Hence, the Legislature has passed a slew of bills to constrain blue cities. The Tempe ban on plastic bags was quickly quashed. This is coming to the blue enclaves as Washington will seek to withdraw funding for sanctuary cities and any place that defies the New Order.
The consequences for Arizona are self-evident (and refreshed every week on this site) — and the local media have been so savaged by cuts, we don't even have a real picture of how bad things are. For the United States, the repercussions will be infinitely greater, made more sinister by the treason committed by Trump and his band of quislings. The destruction will not be repaired in my lifetime.