By Michael Bryan
With Arizona having become a primary front in the GOP's War on Women, it seems to me there is a possible means to make the GOP pay at the polls this November for their aggression against the rights and health of half the population.
The GOP supermajority in the AZ legislature has passed several anti-women laws that do not reflect the values and opinions of the majority of Arizonans, especially those of Arizona's women. Among them are the widely-reported and controversial new restriction on abortions after 20 weeks, the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Arizona, and the ability for employers to opt out of funding birth control for their female employees if they have a "moral objection" to use of contraceptives. Not all these bills have been signed into law by Governor Breweras as of this writing, but unless they get imesheshed in the Governor's childish veto tantrum over the budget, they almost certainly will be.
This presents Democrats, and any voters who do not want the government's fingers in every woman's vagina, an opportunity to turn the tables and make the GOP radicals pay at the polls.
Here in Arizona, as in many states created in the Progressive era, the voters have preserved to themselves the right of recall and referedum. Most people are familiar with the recall as a tool for removing an office-holder who has behaved poorly in office, such as former Senate President Russell Pearce. But the Arizona Constitution also allows specific legislative enactments to be referred to the ballot for approval or rejection by voters, essentially allowing voters to recall a law they don't like.
One normally sees Initiatives referred to the ballot by citizens groups (or by special interests) by petition, or by the legislature itself (generally for amendments to the Constitution), but if enough voters don't like a law that has been passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor, a petition can be circulated to refer it to the ballot, as well. Even better, whereas Initiaitve petitions require 10% of voters to sign, a referendum of a legislative enactment only requires 5% to sign.
These provisions make it relatively easy for citizens to place the aforementioned anti-woman laws on the ballot this November. It would require some organization, some (wo)man-power, and some money, to circulate the petitions and to clarify the issues for voters, but it could be easily be done by the Democratic party and groups dedicated to women's health and reproductive rights.
Why would we want to do this? Because the GOP has screwed itself with America's women this election cycle. Women are breaking for Democrats in record numbers. Even many conservative women are offended and angry about the bombardment of anti-woman legislation coming out of GOP controlled state legislatures and the GOP caucus in Congress. Polling confirms that the GOP has stepped out on a limb and handed us a saw: it's incumbent upon us to oblige them.
By placing these extremist laws on the ballot for referendum, we will drive record numbers of women to the polls to spit in the GOP's eye. The GOP has proven quite adept at using ballot initiatives and legislative referenda to energize their base and drive them to the polls. Now we can return the favor.
You might ask, "Doesn't this idea risk a backlash by driving ultra-conservatives to the polls to support these radical anti-woman laws?" You bet it does. But we who respect women, not to mention women themselves, far outnumber them. Such a referendum will surely inspire both opponents and supporters to have their votes counted on these laws - but who will speak louder? I have no doubt who would prevail.
Such a shellacking at the polls would prove convincingly that there is no political advantage to radical conservatives forcing their views on society through anti-woman legislation. It would demonstrate that they will always lose in the court of wider public opinion, and pay a heavy price at the polls - thereby acting as a deterent to conservatives giving their anti-woman constituents jollies with discriminatory legislation in the future.
This fall, we can give the GOP a shellacking with a brush they fashioned themselves. We can increase the odds of victory in Arizona for Obama and Carmona. We can give Democratic candidates a leg up all the way down the ticket. But we must act decisively and soon.
I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this idea. Please distribute this posting widely among your social circles. This idea deserves some wider debate and consideration.