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Both parties in Arizona serve thin gruel on ballot

On Election Day 2022, our state had precisely 2,707,396 registered Republicans and Democrats.


This column isn’t for you.


This piece is for the rest of us, the dregs of Arizona politics, the 1,436,533 registered voters who belong to neither political party but still must pick from the measly buffet of candidates served by the Rs and the Ds.


To quote a Democrat president who won this state in 1996, “I feel your pain.” \

Deep in my guts. Because voting this year is the political equivalent of a starvation diet.


I’m writing a few days before we go to the polls, amid the usual onslaught of last-minute TV ads warning that the other candidate is Lucifer. I’ve already mailed in my ballot.


I’ll admit I copped out on a few races, writing in the late Grant Woods, our state’s former attorney general, in a couple of instances.


I did so for two reasons: One, Grant was the funniest guy I know and he would have appreciated the irony. And two, even dead for a year, Grant would do a better job as a leader than many of the purportedly alive candidates who made the ballot.


That’s because Grant, a Republican throughout his political career, was cut from the same cloth as John McCain, the last politician I truly admired. In 2008, during his second unsuccessful run for president, Parade magazine asked McCain to define patriotism. His answer is one I believe with all my heart.


“Patriotism,” McCain wrote, “is deeper than its symbolic expressions, than sentiments about place and kinship that move us to hold our hands over our hearts during the national anthem.


“It is putting the country first, before party or personal ambition, before anything. It is the willing acceptance of Americans, both those whose roots here extend back over generations and those who arrived only yesterday, to try to make a nation in which all people share in the promise and responsibilities of freedom.”

Country before party? It’s the sort of slogan you might see on a political button from the 1950s beside an “I Like Ike” pin.


This election — even before the inevitable weeks of warfare over the results — feels like two sides bombing each other with heavy artillery, destroying the village to save it.

Meanwhile, the rest of must live amid the ruins.


Many of you have written to me over the years to tell me off for being too rabid a conservative (when I write in favor of the death penalty) or a flaming liberal (when I dabble in social issues like gay marriage).


The truth is I am both of those things, not unlike about 1.4 million of our Arizona neighbors. I don’t swill the Kool-Aid on Fox News. Nor do I follow the party line as espoused by MSNBC and the grating likes of Rachel Maddow.


I don’t think you’re a badass because you have an “FJB” sticker on your bumper or a “Let’s Go Brandon” flag on your porch. At the same time, I have shaken my head pretty much nonstop for the past two years of the Biden presidency.


Even so, if the alternative is Donald Trump in this “lesser of two evils” system of ours, then yes, I’m glad the 2020 election ended as it did — with a Biden victory because he won, not because he stole it in some far-fetched fantasy.


It has become popular in GOP circles to scream “Stop the Steal.” I agree.


Not the theft of an election, which didn’t happen.


Stop the steal of our country by two parties who put their own interest before America’s. That’s the real steal, and there seems to be no stopping it.

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