You have to wonder at the motivation which inspires some folks to run for office. Take first term AZ representative Republican Debbie Lesko, representing District 9 in the Arizona House. To find a similarly short-sighted Luddite, one needs look no further than U.S. Representative Trent Franks (AZ-02), a neighboring Republican who spouts parables expressing unfailing beliefs in the post-WWII era of America, as viewed through rose-colored glasses. That baby boom period was also renown for the birth of suburbia — in all its wealth and with all its warts.

These 21st century conservatives represent the residential outer edge of the Phoenix metro area, and they dream of a new golden age. These elected Republicans promise a return to a life where rural, god-fearing, white America was debt-free, in control of this country, and happy with their lot in life. Don’t you remember those great times? Late 50’s TV was full of such dribble — “Andy of Mayberry” or “Leave it to Beaver” — are examples of life only a Hollywood film crew could successfully score.

But in counterpoint, modern urban culture threatens the status quo in boom towns like Phoenix, Arizona. Rapid growth in the metro area has effectively quashed quaint cowboy-era lifestyles, in favor of multiple ethnicity. Make it stop, say Republican legislators serving conservative social agendas, hell-bent on maintaining the social norms of a bygone era. Even as they reap the benefits of privileged place born of escalating real estate values with  burgeoning population, the slogan remains small town in attitude. Stoic restraint and economic puritanism mark the standard addendum. Wealth will not be denied, yet in the demographics of growth, there flourishes a diversity, which far out pace norms considered acceptable among the landholding gentry — with challenges of language, culture and economy that threaten “nativist” sensibilities.

Increasingly, population density only exasperates the problem. Conservative power consolidates and distills among champions who proclaim wisdom steeped in earlier less egalitarian times. The establishment calls for no new taxes in the face of complex and accelerating growth. Polarizing class divisions spawn suburban mega-Churches preaching the gospel of prosperity to an upwardly mobile citizenry, who are increasingly isolated from the poverty of inner city dwellers. Poor central town residents of vast numbers precipitate a wealth-reducing exodus, as well-to-dos escape in contempt for those less fortunate who remain behind. The un-washed, un-blessed are ignored by inhabitants of colossal new homes located in satellite sub-divisions of modern excess. But like the olive tree which thrives in the new wood closest to the bark and furthest from the core, ex-urban humanity grows twisted and gnarly, while inner city denizens are left to wither under a Red-State socio-economic mantra — prosper or die.

This Randian philosophy provides the background mold for sub-urban legislators like Lesko and other desert Republicans. Their traditional morality embraces a cut-and-dry simplicity of earlier, less populated times, unencumbered by complexities inherent in administering the fifth largest urban area in the nation. Their harsh economic notions reflect an equally stoic and masculine authoritarianism, encumbered in the mantle of the  supernatural. Abortion as evil, provides one hot-button battle cry, operating as a diversion from the less volatile, though no less insidious drag of poverty. Social conservatives believe unborn life is both sacred and incapable of arguing with that fact. Yet once born, it’s another story — the tale of have and have not.

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One Response to “Have and Have Not”

  1. Mariano Bartolomei says:

    Nothing there that isn’t clear as a rooster’s crowing. Phoenix today is what was Long Island sixty years ago. There then as here now developers decided to plow under the indigenous land use and “create” communities. The result was the mindless, coreless bedroom tracts that choked roads and the spirit. Heaven forbid humanity should learn something from the past, especially when it might step on the sanctity of pure profit.

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