The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

69° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sweet home Arizona

    Matt Stonecolumnist
    Matt Stone
    columnist

    An incredulous look, usually followed by, “”What’s in Arizona?”” No matter where – Budapest, Moscow, Rome, Siberia, even Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. – these are the words uttered in monotone after I mention that I live in Arizona.

    Well, sand dunes for one. And coyotes and cowboys and Indians and cacti that jump at you, oh my!

    As if Arizona were some rugged, untamed wilderness inhabited only by hardy trailblazers and uncivilized savages.

    But that’s the beauty of Arizona – a bundle of contradictions that can make one proud. It is a vast wilderness, but also a growing hub of biotechnology and informatics. We may have the Grand Canyon, but we also have Phoenix – the fifth-largest city in the country, recently overtaking Philadelphia. We may have 100-plus degree summers, but we also have Mount Lemmon Ski Resort, the southernmost ski resort in the northern hemisphere.

    Tucson is equally contradictory. Is it a military town? With Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Raytheon to boot, one could make that argument. Is it a retirement community? A surge of “”snowbirds”” every winter, searching for that temperate Tucson winter, could be proof of such. But wait, isn’t it a college town? Well, yeah, all those “”snowbirds”” are crazy for Wildcat athletics. And we all know, the UA is Arizona’s first (and best) university, much to the chagrin of our neighbors up north. Tucson is all these things, and that distinguishes it from other mid-sized cities.

    Arizona is representative of the future of our country. Latinos are now the largest ethnic minority in the United States; in Arizona, interactions between Latinos, Caucasians, blacks, Asians, American Indians and others is a daily part of life.

    Arizona has a decidedly conservative bent, but it hasn’t been afraid to elect a Democratic governor in Janet Napolitano. And Arizona’s conservative bent is far different from the conservatism currently shaming our nation worldwide.

    In the tradition of Barry Goldwater and John McCain, Arizona conservatism is about fiscal responsibility, public accountability, humility and a reasonable amount of environmentalism. Barry Goldwater may have been overly conservative to some, but he happened to be pro-choice (on the grounds that the government should avoid any interference in one’s personal life) and a staunch proponent of protecting the environment.

    Recently, Arizona became the first state to reject a gay marriage ban in the guise of Proposition 107. And despite being a border state, Arizona voters rejected the xenophobic brand of populism advocated by Randy Graf and Ron Drake.

    Whether we are from here or not, it is our obligation to understand where we live, how it affects us and how this state fits into a grander scheme. It is our duty to explore, starting here and working our way outwards. Sabino Canyon, Ventana Canyon, Kitt Peak – these are good starters. But go north to Monument Valley, with its red, monolithic rock formations straddling the Utah-Arizona border. Go south to Tumacacori, the abandoned mission far more mysterious and alluring than the picturesque San Xavier.

    The 48th state has much to offer in terms of physical beauty. Far from the rugged desert Arizona is known for, it also comprises lush forests, petrified forests, snow-capped peaks, canyons of crimson and gold, torrential rivers, docile lakes and an occasional saguaro or two. It is a swirling conglomeration of natural beauty marked by the sophistication of global cities – a little bit of Silicon Valley meets the land of Geronimo.

    It is the embodiment of the American dream – a dynamism reinforced by resilient optimism and the promise of some nebulous but idyllic future. Arizona is on the upsurge. While “”rust belt”” states like Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia are facing declining population, Arizona is a hub of growth. People want to live here.

    The Southwest is illustrative of the future of America. Don’t be surprised to see an increasing emphasis on politicians from the region in the presidential elections of 2008, 2012 and beyond.

    We ought to be proud of this achievement we call Arizona. It’s beautiful; it’s dynamic; it’s desirable. It’s conservative but with a progressive bent. Arizona is decidedly for progress. Thankfully, we experience it daily at the UA.

    These are the things that make an Arizonan proud. The next time you happen to be cruising the Gulf of Finland and meet a British couple from Cyprus who vacation in Tucson regularly because they “”love that damn town,”” you can grin and say proudly, “”Yeah, I’m from Arizona.””

    Matt Stone is a senior majoring in international studies and economics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search