Tune in to the made-for-reality-television 2022 campaigns

October 6, 2021 3:53 pm

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Move over Tiger King. There’s a new reality show in town that’s even more outrageous than an exotic cat owner’s murder-for-hire scheme.

I call this “show” the Real Politicians of Arizona because, just like the “Housewives” series, there’s plenty of back-biting, sensationalized drama and questionable fashion choices.

Taking center-stage in this made-for-TV reality are Republican gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake and Matt Salmon. Their real-life bickering over who’s the Trumpiest in all the land makes the fist-fight between the Kardashian sisters look tame.

Who’s most likely to imprison their political opponents or spend millions more on another partisan recount

With Lake securing Trump’s endorsement, she’s the current fan fave.

But we can’t (unfortunately) forget Republican Mark Brnovich. He’s in a battle royale with his other Senate candidates over who hates migrants more, who’s best at undermining life-saving vaccines, and who will kill the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, it’s not just Republicans in the spotlight. Arizona is also home to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who keeps her constituents guessing about where she stands on, well, everything — but makes headlines for her fashionable accessories, like her colorful wigs and her famous F– Off ring.

And while it may be tempting to curl up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and watch these reality star wannabes tweet their way into office, I’m hoping voters will take a short break from the theatrics and consider something less entertaining but much more consequential: American democracy.

Much has been said about Trump’s attempted political coup and Republicans’ ongoing flirtation with fascism, but this article in the Washington Post by columnist Robert Kagan is the most detailed one I’ve read about why rational Americans have reason to fear for our country’s future.

Kagan argues that our nation isn’t heading for a constitutional crisis — we’re already in one.

Republican officials and conservative media outlets and advocacy organizations who tried to convince the American people that Trump wasn’t that bad or that he’d govern responsibly when surrounded by seasoned politicians have been proven wrong. They cannot calm Trump’s basest desires.

Worse yet, these same apologists have shown their own willingness to defy constitutional and democratic norms to keep him (and, by extension, themselves) in power.

This became crystal clear in the days and weeks after January 6, when a violent coup attempt that resulted in the deaths of five police officers and injuries to 140 more was spun into some kind of peaceful and patriotic demonstration.

And if Republicans are willing to ignore an insurrection, what will they be willing to do if Donald Trump wins the presidency in 2024, which is a very real possibility?

As Kagan correctly notes, our republic will not stand if only one political party fights for its existence. We need elected Republicans willing to sacrifice their political futures in order to save our country.

Here in Arizona, most of the Republican candidates for statewide and national office have already thrown in the towel on civic virtue, choosing idolization of Trump and personal ambition instead.

But there are a handful of Republicans who have had the courage to stand up to the Big Lie and our country’s free-fall toward fascism.

Republicans on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer haven’t simply refused to forward a lie or cast doubt on the integrity of our elections. Some of them are actively working to convince their fellow Republicans to do the same.

Supervisor Bill Gates and Richer took part in a recent video campaign with a group called the Republican Accountability Project. The video hasn’t garnered nearly as much attention as some of Kari Lake’s staged political stunts have, which is a shame because these Republicans — and their message — need to be heard.

When Republican officials stand united against Trump’s lies, they give other Republican officials the courage to do the same. They will not be able to change the hearts and minds of the loyal MAGA crowd, but they just might cause enough voters who are on the fence to stop and think about what’s real and what’s simply made-for-TV reality.

Every sane American should applaud and support these Republicans because they may be our only hope to bring this country back from the edge.

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Julie Erfle
Julie Erfle

Julie Erfle hails from North Dakota, but has called Arizona home for more than twenty years. She began her career in Phoenix as a creative services producer at KPHO-TV5 and 3TV. Blending her background in communications with her passion for community activism, Julie launched the political blog Politics Uncuffed in 2011, and began working as a communications director and consultant on candidate and initiative campaigns. She is the former executive director of Progress Now Arizona, a progressive communications and advocacy non-profit, and a fellow with the Flinn-Brown Arizona Center for Civic Leadership and Leading for Change.