The Arizona Republican Party is fracturing under the pressure of its own extremist philosophies, and the people of Arizona are paying the price.
For more than a decade now, the party in charge of all three branches of our state government has been driven by a philosophy of questioning the legitimacy of our government, attacking the truth-seeking role of the press, mocking science, vilifying the loyalty of Americans who disagree with them and ignoring the roughly two-thirds of Arizona voters who are not registered Republicans.
Now that toxicity has gotten out of their control: Republicans elected to lead our state are being hounded by extremist members of their own party, and it has paralyzed our state government when the people of Arizona need it the most.
Over the past nine months, our state has suffered under the weight of the worst global pandemic in nearly 100 years. Since the beginning of this outbreak, 7,154 Arizonans have died and nearly 400,000 have been infected. Our economy has been crippled, and families have lost loved ones, their homes and their jobs. This period in our history demands the best from our political leaders and our state government, but what the people of Arizona have been given is a reality-show disaster starring our Republican governor, state legislative leaders and state attorney general.
Gov. Doug Ducey is in an open, ugly and embarrassing power struggle with Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the state GOP, triggered by his decision to certify our recent election, a move that extremist Republicans see as an act of disloyalty toward a failed president.
How is it that the governor of Arizona (@dougducey) could surrender to the mob and abandon our great President, all while working behind the scenes to undermine and get rid of our brave and beloved chairwoman @kelliwardaz? No loyalty!
— Arizona Republican Party (@AZGOP) December 10, 2020
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Rusty Bowers, has been doxed by party extremists for his comments affirming the legitimacy of our elections. The president of the Senate, Karen Fann, is being pressured by many in her caucus to schedule a hearing to discuss the baseless conspiracy theories that have been dismissed by Arizona and federal courts every single time they have been litigated. Finally, the Attorney General is using our tax dollars to participate in yet another farcical election challenge filed by the Texas attorney general to invalidate elections in four battleground states.
The pandemic has exposed the serious problems our state government should have already addressed, but has not because the leaders of our state government are paralyzed by fear of the extremists in their party. Ducey will not impose a statewide mask mandate, he will not support an increase of the pathetically low unemployment benefits our citizens are relying on, he has not addressed the impending wave of evictions, he has not addressed the need for more direct financial aid to individuals and small businesses.
Governors in other states have called special sessions to address these issues, but Ducey has not. On the other hand, even if the governor decides to call a special session at this late date, there is no guarantee it would actually occur in time to help the people of our state — or that Republican lawmakers would support any aid to Arizonans.
Meanwhile, Bowers and Fann have had nine months to develop a COVID protocol that will protect their staff, the public and their colleagues during the upcoming session, but to date we still do not have those protocols in place — and their failure to do so jeopardizes our ability to conduct the people’s business safely and responsibly. The people could lose the ability to have their voice heard and we would all suffer the consequences.
This failure of leadership is again caused by a fear of GOP extremists who don’t believe COVID-19 is real while they flaunt their refusal to take basic precautions against infection. Both houses of our state legislature are now closed due to the reckless behavior of Republicans during the recent dog-and-pony show put on by the Trump campaign at a Phoenix hotel. If the Republican leadership of the state legislature cannot ensure the safety of our state Capitol, there is little chance they can be trusted with the safety of our entire state.
The people of Arizona deserve a state government that is dedicated to protecting and serving the life, liberty and happiness of us all. Tragically, what we have now is a state government paralyzed by internal fighting and pure partisan politics.