David Morales: Republicans, Democrats & Racism In Southern Arizona

As a voter in Gabrielle Giffords’ Southern Arizona congressional district (AZ-8), I have the unique opportunity to vote twice this year as a result of Giffords’ resignation.

As a Democrat I got to vote against ALIPAC-endorsed Jesse Kelly twice in the last two years, and will possibly vote a third time if the Tea Party Republican runs in the November election.

I also get the opportunity to not vote for the Democratic candidate to represent me once again.

I did not vote for Giffords after her attack on immigrants in which blame was placed on a Mexican, without any evidence, for the 2010 murder of the white rancher Rob Krentz. This was used to further militarize the international border, pushing even more migrant human beings out into the dangerous deserts southwest of Tucson.

I will also not vote for Ron Barber in the special election being held right now.

The lesser of evils is still evil.

Tucson, Arizona has this illusion of being a mecca of progressive or liberal Democrats who are fighting back against the extremism being generated in Maricopa County, home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Gov. Jan Brewer, “birther” Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Arizona Senate President and SB1070 author Russell Pearce, and the list goes on.

Now consider Southern Arizona’s largest city, which has three out of five Democrats on the Tucson Unified School Board (four last year before the unfortunate death of one of ethnic studies strongest supporters), five out of six Democrats on the Tucson city council, a Democratic mayor, three out of five Democrats on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, and represented by two out of two Democratic Congress members before Giffords’ resignation, including one of the most liberal representatives in Congress, the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, Raul Grijalva.

With this clear majority in Southern Arizona, including a TUSD superintendent who is a registered Independent but who admits to following the Democrat’s platform and who has the backing of powerful Democrats in Tucson, including Ron Barber, Tucson has become known has the home of the racist ban on Mexican American studies, home to extreme censorship including the banning of books from being taught by MAS teachers if they deal with issues of  “race, class or oppression.”

The nation got to see how smart the Republican on the TUSD school board, Michael Hicks, was when he went on the Daily Show earlier this year, but the Hicks’ resolution to ban Mexican American Studies on January 10th, 2012, would not have passed without the Democrats that voted for it, including the TUSD board president Mark Stegeman.

The Democrats claim not to agree with Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne, author of  HB2281, the Ethnic Studies ban, nor do they agree with the law itself, yet they are the enablers of that racist and possibly (currently being determined by federal Judge Tashima) unconstitutional law.

The lesser evil enables the racist policies of the greater evil.

It is also telling that TUSD just had a desegregation order placed back on it and in January a “Special Master” was appointed by federal Judge Bury to deal with segregation that still exists in TUSD, a district with massive white flight and that is over 61 percent Latino. TUSD also has the Office of Civil Rights investigating it now for violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It was exactly this historic civil rights bill that in 1964 split the Democrats into so-called “Dixiecrats.” While it was the Democratic President Johnson that signed this hugely important bill into law, it was also this bill that led to some of the longest filibusters on the Senate floor, including from Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, who was an admitted former leader of the KKK.

In the House, three-fourths of the opposition to the bill was from Democrats, and in the Senate 80 percent of those who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were Democrats. Nothing divides the Democratic Party like civil rights and segregation does, and indeed some of the evils of racism and xenophobia are generated, enabled, or perpetuated by Democratic Party.

One complaint in the Democratic Party is that Latinos do not get out and vote, but the Party also needs to give them something besides the “lesser of evils” option.

In the AZ-8 Special Election I did go out and vote, not for the “lesser of evils” but for None of the Above. If Democrats want to tap into the huge Latino vote, they need to give them a candidate worth voting for, perhaps one that can turn their DREAM into a reality.