Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Yes, this gets even better"--Notes from My Truman-Clinton Speech in Prescott, AZ

(While not the feature speaker at this event, I was asked to make a few remarks upon being introduced during the evening’s opening ceremonies. I hastily scribbled some notes during dinner and gave it my best shot. This is far from a verbatim transcript of what was supposed to be a two minute speech, though I’d guess it ran closer to five minutes. I have added additional info here as necessary to provide context to the topics of discussion that night.)

Ladies and gentlemen, is this a great time to be an Arizona Democrat or what? EE-ha! This week, yesterday, Sept. 11th we just saw AZ change. Right before our very eyes. Our time has just begun!
Let me explain what I am talking about: Yesterday I was in PHX at the state capitol and got to participate in the official turn-in of our petition signatures which stopped the GOP’s anti-voter bill 2305 dead in its tracks. You should have seen it! The state required 86,000 signatures for the petition drive to halt 2305.  86,000. You know that’s a BIG number. You know how many we turned in? One Hundred & Forty-Six Thousand signatures. That’s right 146,000 Arizonans said No to the GOP, said NO to voter suppression, said NO the status quo and yes to protecting the rights and improving the lives of all Arizonans. In essence the entire state of Arizona, en masse, adopted my campaign slogan and told the right they were wrong.

And folks it was my fellow Democrats leading the way. Overwhelmingly the Democrats accomplished this task of rounding up the manpower, the hours, and the sheer will it takes to achieve such a herculean task. But it wasn’t just Democrats alone. Twenty-four organizations from around the state joined the Democrats in working to shoot down this potentially dangerous piece of legislation. If it took effect, it would’ve made it a crime to help elderly voters w their ballots, A CRIME. It would’ve thrown thousands off of the permanent early voter lists and it virtually would’ve eliminated third parties in Arizona: Green Party, the Libertarian Party. There was no way they could’ve achieved the petition signatures required to even get a candidate on the ballot. In a way 2305 was an attempt on the part of the GOP to spank the Libertarians for poaching votes from them. In a couple of races last year Libertarian candidates garnered a few percent of the vote that usually would’ve gone to the GOP and they weren’t going to tolerate Libertarian interference w their elephant parade. But guess who told who, huh?

Speaking of which, I got a picture of myself at the turn-in event. It was a glorious time. There were cameras and kids and groups of folks in colorful tee-shirts. The copy paper boxes full of petitions were lined up chest high, at least twenty foot long. There were easily 200 people there in the lobby of the Secretary of State’s office. All my favorite Democratic heroes were there, I got a ton of pictures, but the picture I’m most proud of is of me getting a hug from Barry Hess, the recurring Libertarian gubernatorial candidate. Barry Hess giving me a hug? How often have you seen a Libertarian wanting to thank a Democrat for anything, huh?

 It was great! And there were all these great groups too, all these great spirits of progress celebrating the work they’d done together: Lucha Arizona, Planned Parenthood, even the American Human Society, the national organization, they all joined in working together to tell the GOP they were not going to get to silence Arizonans’ voice at the ballot box. As Mr. Hess put it, “This bill was the GOP’s effort to cheat to get ahead. We understand wanting to win, but nobody wants to vote for someone who cheats to win. Arizonans don’t like cheaters.”
So there.
I tell you Arizonans were so mad at this bill even Ron Gould signed our petition. The bill was that bad. The successful petition drive stopped the implementation of the bill which was set to take effect tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow! Whew. This successful petition drive will send the whole mess to a public vote in November of 2014. You know the general voting public isn’t going to like these cheaters either, once they learn what the GOP is really up to.

But wait there’s more. Yes, this gets even better. Folks gave speeches and milled around for about an hour and when it came time to move the boxes up to the 7th floor check-in counter at SOS elections, we all joined in filling the elevators. It took 4 elevators to get them all up. Then, like people always do at those kinds of things, the people wandered around for a few minutes and all left. BUT, because I was there at the state capitol for two events that afternoon, a second, later, event, I was still hanging around the capitol about an hour later when I got to see another crowd gather with their petitions. That’s right, it was the die-hard Republicans who still didn’t accept what the rest of us knew for about a week: the GOP petition drive to repeal Medicaid had dried up and failed. Arizona will get the ACA after all. All their bombast, al that sanctimonious outrage, they couldn’t stop it. Turned out the people of Arizona realized they didn’t want to have health care denied to tens of thousands of their brothers and sisters, they didn’t want to find themselves sick and suffering and left to the mercy of the GOP.

Even as it was dawning on them, you should have seen their faces; they were desperately believing. I kid you not, the Dem petition boxes were chest high and 20 feet long and these guys were huddled around a stack of papers that wouldn’t fill one copy box. I wandered over and asked politely as I could, “So, what are you doing?”
“We turning in our petitions to repeal Obama-care!” someone said a little testily.
I tried to look supportive and asked, “How’s it going?”
“Fine,” someone snapped and they all stopped talking. The leader of the group wouldn’t even look my way. Finally another nicer person said, “Since you’re asking, We’re got the numbers, I am sure of it. Everyone is doubting us but we’ll show them.”
I hooked him and thumbs up and wandered off. I didn’t want to be rude but you just can’t talk sense to some of those guys.

 My event wasn’t for another hour or so, so I hung around the capitol complex, saw some sights. Beautiful place, our state capitol. Too bad the GOP sold it. I just hung out, played my guitar and walked around. You know that’s why I have that pink guitar case of mine, so I can hang out, play guitar and walk around. I’ve stood on many a corner some place in Arizona, just saying. Anyway, about an hour later I wandered back over to their little group while I was playing, “This Land is Your Land.” Sure, it was just a coincidence.  
There were now about a dozen of them gathered. They had a 2nd box by this point, but you couldn’t see anything in it. I read in the paper this morning that they say they were only about 5000 signatures short. 5000? There must have been a zero missing there. If they had 80,000 signatures, they didn’t have them at the state capitol that day.

They did have some folks along the sidewalks at the capitol, however, with clipboards asking the tourists, “Don’t you want to Repeal Obama-Care?” But it was hot, you know? Who want to stop and sign stuff. Besides like I say it turned out Arizonans did not want to be left to get sick and die to support Republican hubris after all, imagine that. At least, I didn’t see any tourists stop. I just kept on walking around the courtyard there at the state capitol, playing and singing, “This Land Is Your Land” and watching their sad little troupe slowly come to realize their day was done. And when I caught the eyes of the leader, he looked so lost.

And that’s the story. I wish I could’ve sorrier for them, because I know they had tried so hard, but I couldn’t do it. I loved it. These were the folks ruining the country and we’d stopped ‘em. Twice in one day! I was so happy for our state to know that the people of Arizona had rejected these guys. I was so glad the people of Arizona realized they didn’t want to have health care denied to tens of thousands of their brothers and sisters, they didn’t want to find themselves sick and suffering and left to the mercy of the GOP. See? Once again Arizona told the Right They’re Wrong.

That’s what I’m saying. This is our message. And this is our time to tell it. This is our time for the Democrats
to shine. We have the momentum right now. NOW is the time to seize the day. We can use our voices catch the public’s ear now, we can change the way they see Arizona now. Thank you for being the change we need to see.

Thank you for being the difference now.

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