Marching toward Arizona

Marching toward Arizona

- in Fitzsimon File

If you want to know what might be in North Carolina's future, take a look at Arizona and not just its much-publicized, offensive and likely unconstitutional immigration law. Look at the rest of that state's government too if you want a preview of what the angry Right and the think tanks that support them could do here if they take over state government in the fall.

Ken Silverstein has a preview in the July issue of Harper's Magazine and it's a sobering read. The hard, angry right runs the Arizona legislature and has for years. That's why the state literally sold its Capitol to raise money and leases it back.

Other state buildings have been sold too, day-long kindergarten for poor children has been abolished, and thousands of people have been slashed from the Medicaid rolls. The state has securitized the lottery, which basically means it's also been sold, and raided a special fund set aside for education.

The state has done all that and still faces a massive budget crisis next year. You can only imagine what that will prompt lawmakers to do. They have cut taxes 15 of the last 17 years despite their budget woes.

And it's not just fiscal policy. Legislators in Arizona have passed legislation demanding to see President Obama's birth certificate if he runs for reelection and they have declared that Arizonans have a constitutional right to hunt.

They have allowed guns to be taken into many previously gun free zones like bars and university campuses supposedly to protect the state from terrorism. The Harper's story quotes one member of the Arizona General Assembly saying that trees were stealing the state's water supply.

There's more in what Silverstein calls a "Grover Norquist lab experiment run amok," but that's not entirely accurate. It's turned out just like Norquist had hoped. He's the anti-government crusader who famously said he wanted to shrink government enough "were we can drown it in a bathtub."

It's also what could happen in North Carolina if you listen to the rhetoric from the tea parties and the politicians who pander to them.

Republican Party Chair Tom Fetzer organized an effort to defeat extremist Congressional candidate and Christ's War blogger Tim D'Annunzio in a primary runoff, but Fetzer based his criticism on D'Annunzio's criminal record. He never denounced D'Annunzio's positions or rhetoric that included a call to dismantle most of the federal government.

Republican candidates routinely appear at rallies alongside people who portray Obama as Hitler and claim he favors genocide.

The think tankers on the Right are there too and it's their philosophical extremism that morphs into policy positions for the candidates they support. It's not hard to imagine a tea party dominated General Assembly abolishing Smart Start and doubling or tripling tuition at UNC.

Raleigh's leading think tank on the Right has long advocated both. They also want to sell state buildings and privatize museums and parks or at least charge admission fees only the wealthy could afford.

Say goodbye to affordable housing programs and health-insurance for kids in working poor families. Public education would almost certainly be dismantled and privatized too, with vouchers and tax credits that also benefit the rich.

Taxes, especially on the wealthy and corporations would be slashed and slashed again, no matter what university had to be closed or what vital human service had be to be abolished. Raising revenue is never an option. That's why they insist on pledges and oaths from candidates never to raise taxes.

It might seem impossible that could happen in North Carolina, a moderate and occasionally progressive state. But if listening to the hard right rhetoric at the tea parties and political rallies doesn't convince you, take a long look at what has happened in Arizona.

And remember that plenty of people there thought it could never happen either.