Feathered Bastard

Arizona Republicans Seek to Abolish the 17th Amendment, Maybe Censure John McCain (Again) w/Update

On Saturday, January 25, both the Republican and Democratic state parties have their mandatory meetings, where state committee members sometimes get to vote on meaningless and often downright wacky resolutions

Sand Land Republicans, of course, can out-wack their Democratic colleagues any day of the week, and they have the scary advantage of controlling state politics, for the most part.

They're like the crazy uncle you dare not turn your back on for fear he will reach for the scissors, where the Ds are like the crazy aunt who's safely padlocked in the attic, away from the sharp objects.

The Maricopa County Republican Party garnered headlines earlier this month for overwhelmingly passing a censure of U.S. Senator John McCain, basically because he's viewed by GOP moonhowlers as big ol' flip-floppin' RiNO (Republican in Name Only).

Though state Rs overall are somewhat less insane than the Maricopa County breed (which is the biggest litter of the lot), they also will be considering an anti-McCain resolution.

One Republican I know tells me this is meant to "send a message" to McCain, though I think the message McCain takes from it is that he doesn't have to pay any attention to the majority of local party activists, who dwell contentedly inside a bubble of hardened concrete.

Not that I'm a big fan of McCain, but McCain buried the Froot Loops' candidate of choice, erstwhile Congressman and radio lip-flapper J.D. Hayworth in the 2010 primary by 24 points.

Primaries, who pays attention to those? Why, one of the other resolutions up for a vote on Saturday supports ditching a Republican primary altogether and replacing it with a caucus, where wingnutty state committeemen who don't mind giving up their Saturdays can reign supreme.

Other resolutions voice support for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is all about state's rights, the only rights that seem to matter in certain Republican circles.

The battiest GOP resolution of them all is the one demanding the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which mandates the direct election of U.S. Senators.

State legislatures used to pick senators and some Rs from the Tea Party/John Birch Society wing of the Republican Party think axing the 17th amendment will return us to the paradise that was the 18th Century, in line with the dictates of the Framers.

You know, back when slavery was legal and women did not have the right to vote. Or as some Rs call it, "the good ol' days."

The U.S. Senate's website recounts a few of the reasons the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913 after decades of national debate on the notion.

Intimidation and bribery marked some of the states' selection of senators. Nine bribery cases were brought before the Senate between 1866 and 1906. In addition, forty-five deadlocks occurred in twenty states between 1891 and 1905, resulting in numerous delays in seating senators. In 1899, problems in electing a senator in Delaware were so acute that the state legislature did not send a senator to Washington for four years.

The article continues:

After the turn of the century, momentum for reform grew rapidly. William Randolph Hearst expanded his publishing empire with Cosmopolitan, and championed the cause of direct election with muckraking articles and strong advocacy of reform. Hearst hired a veteran reporter, David Graham Phillips, who wrote scathing pieces on senators, portraying them as pawns of industrialists and financiers. The pieces became a series titled "The Treason of the Senate," which appeared in several monthly issues of the magazine in 1906. These articles galvanized the public into maintaining pressure on the Senate for reform.

The driving force behind returning us to these bygone times is none other than recalled, disgraced ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce, who now serves as First Vice Chair of the Arizona Republican Party. His name is on the Maricopa County versions of these same resolutions.

The anti-McCain resolution is not on the state party's web page, but Timothy Schwartz, the GOPer behind the county version, has issued a press release stating that the McCain-bashing resolution will be offered from the floor.

Veering stage left,the resolutions to be considered by the state Democrats on Saturday indicate that the Ds hate the American Legislative Exchange Council and fracking, but they dig a good doobie.

One resolution supports the Arizona SAFER initiative to legalize and regulate Mary Jane for personal use, just like our neighbor to the north has done.

Another supports "a moratorium on, and a mandate that, Arizona utilities acquire natural gas from resources that do not use hydraulic extraction processes."

Only non-fracked natural gas would be welcome. You know, like the kind that flows regularly from the mouths of the state Legislators.

Finally, there's a resolution stating that "the AZ Democratic Party will neither accept funding for, nor sponsorship of, its events from any ALEC member."

The resolution seems aimed at APS, an ALEC member in good standing, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.

Otherwise, the only Dem I can find a record of taking ALEC money is former state Senator Richard Miranda, sentenced in June to 27 months in the federal pen for wire fraud and tax evasion. Basically, he ripped off two Latino non-profits.

Which shows you what kind of Dem takes money from ALEC, I reckon.

But before the Ds start feeling all high and mighty and better than the Rs, here's one resolution they'll never pass:

"Be it resolved that no member of the legislature take donations from lobbyists, or accept free trips and free lunches on the lawn of the Legislature, no matter what special interest they're from."

Hey, just sayin'...Though come to think of it, I don't want them to starve.

UPDATE Saturday, January 25: Yep, the spank-McCain resolution overwhelmingly passed today at the Arizona Republican Party meeting. So did the one about the 17th Amendment and a bunch of other crazy ones. Look for a blog post with highlights on Monday.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons