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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: After 100 years Arizona still needs to mature

    Throughout its history, Arizona has built a reputation as a high-maintenance clunker that has to be coerced, wailing and protesting, into any sort of meaningful progress.

    In 1912, Arizona refused to be lumped together with New Mexico because the state was too Spanish.

    The Grand Canyon state was one of the last to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday, and only acquiesced after the federal government threatened to withhold funds.

    Arizona could be called “The Stubborn State.” No wonder it tops lists like AlterNet’s 10 “craziest state legislatures in America” and Gawker’s “Worst States in America.”

    It makes sense. Arizona has Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been accused by the Justice Department of “unconstitutional policing” and targeting Latinos for arrest.

    Arizona also has Gov. Jan Brewer, who has made national headlines for everything from her stance on immigration to wagging her finger at the president.

    And it would be remiss to forget state legislators like Rep. John Kavanagh, who has lately tried to persuade college students that paying tuition out of pocket “builds character.” Or Sen. Ron Gould, who has, on multiple occasions, sponsored and failed to pass measures that would allow concealed weapons on campus.

    But in 100 years of statehood, the last couple of years of negative national attention may amount to just a bump in the road — call it one of Tucson’s potholes.

    Arizona’s pride is in its understated appeal, and although the Grand Canyon is the obvious favorite aspect, there’s so much more to learn to love. To an outsider’s eye, the desert is a bare and barren place. But somehow the sparseness shelters a variety of plants and animals that can be found nowhere else. Even the sky looks different and more vast here.

    Without these natural features, Arizona could not have become one of the best places in the world for astronomy, able to boast of research facilities like the UA’s Steward Observatory.

    It’s a fixer-upper, sure, but Arizona has an undeniable classic charm.

    Arizona has its heroes, too, ones who have gained a national following like former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and lesser-known ones like the Packard family, who launched Tucson’s Ben’s Bells project and regularly help scatter reminders to “be kind” across the city.

    Plus Arizona has its college students. Despite all the Legislature has done to undermine higher education, the Arizona University System matters. After all, it’s unlikely that anyone from out of state has heard of the town of Carefree or visited Kingman, Ariz. While Arizona’s pride may be in its small-town appeal, those who drive this state forward will come from the state universities.

    The dinosaurs in charge have little on the line. Their re-election might rest on their voting record, but their decisions regarding tuition, guns on campus and higher education won’t hurt them. Ideally, they serve to represent your interests, but no one knows your interests better than you do. You have a stake in your own future. Shouldn’t you also get a say on where this state turns?

    Shake your head and chuckle at Arizona’s expense, or grumble about its conservatism, its xenophobia and its sheer craziness. Then do something about it. There’s more to Arizona than its politics, and more quality people behind the wheel than its current politicians. If you aren’t voting or standing up for your needs, you might as well be hogtied in the trunk.

    So where are you sitting in the car?

    — Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Bethany Barnes, Kristina Bui, Steven Kwan, Luke Money and Michelle A. Monroe. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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