Although I applaud the Roundup for its fair and balanced coverage of the statewide, bi-partisan effort to recall Arizona's senior US Senator, John McCain, I am writing today to offer a local twist on this national story, and to ask a question that truly needs an answer.
Almost everyone is by now aware that many Arizonans Republicans, Democrats and Independents are very dissatisfied with Senator McCain, so much so that they are lining up together to sign recall petitions, albeit for different reasons.
Conservative Republicans are said to feel that he has turned his back on many of their fundamental principles, initially by criticizing the "religious Right" during the last general election, then by coming out in favor of more gun control laws, and lastly by voting against the president's recent tax-cut proposal.
Libertarians and small-government independents have long disliked the unabashed zeal with which Senator McCain led the charge in using the power of the federal government to attack the nation's 200-year-old tobacco industry.
Liberals and progressive Democrats have never especially cared for the senator for ideological reasons, but they have particularly chafed at his pro-life stance on the abortion issue. What has called them to action today, however, is his co-sponsorship of the McCain-Feingold bill, euphemistically known as "Campaign Finance Reform."
All these groups agree, in principle, that in a nation (and a state) where political speech is constitutionally protected, it is unacceptable for a US Senator to co-sponsor a bill that would curtail this freedom in any way, not to mention the outright prohibition of political speeches 60 days prior to an election that McCain-Feingold mandates.
Equally unacceptable is that one of our major grocery stores here in Payson has denied a local resident permission to set up a petition table near the entrance, as has been done on countless occasions by countless organizations, the cause of the denial being the "political nature" of the petition.
I seem to recall having seen petitions circulated for the abolition of all state taxes at one such table, not exactly a nonpolitical issue. I remember seeing petition tables set up in an effort to secure signatures to get a candidate added to a ballot. Surely, this was political. If I can buy a raffle ticket from a civic group, or donate canned food to a charitable organization, or have my personal hygiene preferences polled by a total stranger, why can't I sign a petition to express my opinion about one of the two representatives my state sends to the US Senate?
What is it about groceries and politics in the Rim country that do not mix?
aka Michael Alexander