I lived in Tucson, Arizona for almost four months in the run up to Thanksgiving in 1991, so I suppose that qualifies me as a kind of former Arizona resident. I was there working on Biosphere 2, sharing a condominium with my boss and his girlfriend. It was a brief hiatus from my then home in San Diego and a bizarre experience. The cult-like atmosphere of the Biosphere project together with all that wonderful science made for a surreal paradigm that was unique to the place.
I largely kept to myself with my nose in the stacks of science fiction books I brought with me to read when I wasn’t working, but even so I couldn’t escape the almost palpable, all-pervading sense of regional bigotry of the place. Our team was from California, so we had some mighty prejudices to overcome.
I recall one idiot whose job it was to pick me up from the condo and deliver me to the place where I picked up my rental car. He regaled me with some futile anecdote about how he and his family drove to California once and how disappointing it all was, as if that was somehow my fault and I was supposed to not only apologize for it but make some moral construction out of his pointless “cautionary tale.”
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of nice people in Tucson, just as there are plenty of nice people everywhere, and the regional bigotry sometimes went both ways. (In California, people from Arizona were often disparagingly referred to as “Zonies.”) But I can tell you the fascism coming out of Arizona today had some early seeds. The far right was there for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and it was alive and well in 1991. Extremism wasn’t wrought from nothing, so no one should be surprised at what it’s developed into today.
One Arizona good guy is state speaker of the house Rusty Bowers. If that name sounds familiar you probably remember him from the televised January 6 Committee hearing where he testified that Donald Trump tried to get him to admit that the 2020 election was stolen — and he refused to do so. For telling truth to power Speaker Bowers, his wife and terminally ill (and now deceased) daughter received thousands of death threats and abusive anonymous hate messages from Arizona wackjobs.
This year Mr. Bowers ran for state senate and lost the primary by a 2-1 margin. He was labelled a “RINO” by Donald Trump and others. He lost the race to an idiotic Trump-idolising election-dening fool.
The fool in question is David Farnsworth. Not content to be a mere election-denying cretin, he went one better by saying that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen “by the Devil himself.” No really, he actually said that. I’m not making this up.
Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said if elected she will issue an arrest warrant for Dr Anthony Fauci. I’m also not making this up. She wants to arrest 80 year old Dr Fauci, the American hero who worked tirelessly during the pandemic trying to keep Americans safe from Covid. Why? Because Fauci said some things that turned out to contradict Donald Trump. It didn’t matter that those thIngs were true, they made Trump look like the blithering fool that he is.
Like all fascists, Trump has the thinnest of skins and he can’t bear to be made to look like a fool, so he hates Fauci on that account. And if Donald Trump hates Fauci that’s good enough for Kari Lake. She hates Fauci.
So if Kari Lake should become governor of Arizona, Dr Fauci won’t be able to travel there because there will be a warrant out for his arrest. Lake also said in 2022 that she considers abortion to be “the ultimate sin” and praised the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization for reaching the same conclusion. That is how bananas one Arizona Republican has gotten, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does.
We’ll find out if idiots like Lake and Farnsworth can get elected In Arizona. If they can, then Arizona is in big trouble and so are we. Imagine anything sane and they will be against it. Imagine anything insane and they will be all for it. That’s the world Arizona politicians are trying to make down in the southwest, and heaven help us all if they succeed. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.