Posted by: Donna
On a mutual Facebook friend’s page I asked former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson a question I’ve asked several supporters of the Open Primaries, aka Top Two. It’s a question that typically provokes one of two responses: the person gets snippy or they just ignore it. I give credit to Johnson for taking a stab at answering it, but his response reveals a lot about the mentality of the centrist establishment elitists behind this thing. I have cut and pasted our exchange:
Me: Paul, you have said more than once that extremists on “both sides” are contributed to the problems in this state. Can you please describe the extremism you see on the Democratic side? Please cite specific examples of positions taken by prominent Democrats in Arizona that equate with things like Birtherism and the belief that the UN is plotting to take over American cities. Also please cite examples of Democratic legislation proposed that rivals the birther bill or guns on campus. Thanks.
Paul Johnson: The party not in control rarely espouses more radical positions. Instead what they usually do is throw rocks. Many business and educational leaders were surprised before the proposition went to the voters to increase taxes to pay for education, that they had a difficult time getting Democrats to vote for a proposal that would have passed the tax increase by a vote of the legislature. Voting for the proposal would’ve made the democrats equally culpable to attacks by people who opposed the tax. So in the end, the real issue by one Party was how do you keep a majority by the other Party it was how do you get a majority. It is exactly this type of thinking that has dispirited many. But I would recommend to you if believe you views are part of the center, You will have nothing to fear in Open election where candidates are elected by Democrats independence and Republicans alike.
I love how he thinks I’m a centrist. And notice how Johnson doesn’t answer my question at all. He can’t because there simply aren’t any Democrats in the legislature who are the left wing radical equivalent of all the Kooks in the GOP caucus. But this is not the first time some business-y type in Arizona has glibly described the Democrats in the legislature as “rock throwers”. Must be a talking point among them. Johnson goes on to blather about Democrats balking at the sales tax referral two years ago. It is true that many of the Dems didn’t like the regressive nature of the tax and didn’t trust the GOP majority not to use the sales tax as an excuse to make deeper cuts to education from the general fund. But in the end half the Democrats in the House joined with half the Republicans to get the referral to the ballot. Bipartisan-ship!
Johnson seems to think that if Democrats took over the lege you would see a crapstorm of radical left wing legislation akin to what we’ve seen from the GOP majority for years now. He could, you know, look at the blue states led by Democratic legislatures and note the absence of crazy legislation but then he’d have to give up his cherished false equivalence. Then again, it’s likely that guys like Paul Johnson do see legislators not jumping to do the bidding of business interests 100% of the time without hesitation as extremism on a par with wanting to arm college campuses and believing that the President was born in Kenya.
Some of my fellow Democrats are saying they support top two simply because right wing Republicans hate it. I certainly understand the sentiment because it’s always fun to make wingnut heads explode. But you have to do it smartly, like by having Sandra Fluke speak in prime time, not in a way that undermines the Democrats. That said, while I do oppose top two because it’s a bad idea, part of me does want to indulge in some schadenfreude at the expense of some very smug rich centrists in Arizona should this thing lose.
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