Saturday, February 26, 2011

Welcome to the 51st state, Baja Arizona

This isn't some faraway place like Libya or Wisconsin, but a people's uprising is taking place right here in Southern Arizona where I live.

Or rather, make that Baja Arizona.

There's no crazed dictator railing from the fortress wall, but there is an equally off-the-wall bunch of Republican legislators in Phoenix, trying to usurp the job of the federal government on matters such as immigration and presidential qualifications.

Here are some specifics:
  • In the wake of the Jan. 8 shooting spree in Tucson that left six dead and 13 wounded -- including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- lawmakers with lightning speed and sensitivity are moving to designate the Colt single-action Army revolver as the "official state firearm."
  • Another proposal would scrap Arizona's version of Medicaid and replace it with something that would cut the number of low-income recipients eligible for health assistance from 1.3 million to about 100,000.
  • Republican Sen. Russell Peace, riding a wave of popularity after passage of SB 1070 last year, has proposed a new measure to tighten the screws on illegal immigrants, requiring hospitals to demand proof of citizenship before providing non-emergency care and denying birth certificates to children born in Arizona if one of the parents was in the country illegally.

These and other actions by the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer have stirred the waters of revolt in Pima County, the Democratic enclave of the state. A group that calls itself "Start Our State" (SOS, get it?) has launched a drive to secede from Arizona and form a brand new state.

Hello, Baja Arizona.

This isn't some lunatic fringe idea. The movement was co-founded by Paul Eckerstrom, former Democratic Party chair of Pima County.

Eckertrom told the Arizona Daily Star that the legislature has gone too far to the right, particularly with the round of measures by Pearce that challenge federal supremacy. "This really does border on them saying they don't want to be part of the United States," he said. "Well, I want to be part of the United States."

With a 2009 population of 1,020,200, Eckerstrom added, Pima County has more people than Montana, Delaware, North and South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. And with an area of 9,189 square miles, Pima is bigger than Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

Other counties are welcome to join the breakaway state, he added.

The SOS website states their mission: "To establish a new state in Southern Arizona free of the un-American, unconstitutional machinations of the Phoenix-controlled Arizona Legislature and to restore our region's credibility as a place welcoming to others, open to commerce, and friendly to its neighbors."

I'm completely for all those things. But as a native Arizonan, I don't want to give up the name of "Arizona" for my new state. Let all those people who came to Arizona to get away from the Midwestern snows and infested it with their bigotry and bedrock conservatism find a new name.

Maybe something like "Wiscowandiana."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fabulous article. And not a far fetched idea, either.