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Just Another Presidential Election Year?

Welcome to the New Year. And since this year is divisible by 4, it’s time once again for the

“contest” between presidential candidates.

But readers of this column will not be shocked to hear that this year’s presidential election is a singular event. While we thought that disaster might follow a Trump victory in 2016 or 2020,

now there is actual evidence for such an apocalyptic outcome should the autocratic wannabe

take office once again. He’s made his intentions clear: he has no interest in democracy, and on the contrary, has every intention of ending it. And potentially, he could have enough support to do it, both in Congress and in the population. Especially if we take a Biden victory for granted. Or if we think that just telling everyone how horrible Trump is will beat him. That didn’t work in 2016, and it’s not going to work now.

Here's the take on this choice by the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz: between someone who’s pledged to defend democracy and someone who is unable to spell it.

Fortunately, the Orange One’s victory is not a foregone conclusion. For all the concerns about Biden’s political weakness, there are powerful forces favoring a Democratic victory: the

strength of the economy; the distaste for Trump’s excesses; the continuing reaction to the

Dobbs decision (ending the Roe v Wade protections); and the frequent electoral victories in

2023, following the widely unexpected results in 2022 throughout the country, where the latter included statewide Democratic wins in Arizona.

Positive perspectives are emphasized by Simon Rosenberg in his “Hopium Chronicles”, for

instance the one at Despair is not warranted at this point. But the real danger is described in a video on that page from Tara McGowan of Courier Newsroom: the potential of too many voters staying home or throwing their vote away by voting for a 3rd party candidate.

Our biggest concern is getting a big turnout of supporters, particularly for low propensity ones (those who can’t always be counted on to vote). We need to convince them that their vote matters. As “landslide Mayes” could point out (after her 280-vote win for A.G. out of millions of ballots cast), our individual votes really do count.

How can we do this? Certainly, voter registration drives matter, especially to bring out young

people. When they are registered, they vote in large numbers, and more often for Democrats than for Republicans. Their biggest limitation is not being registered at all.

But beyond that, what is our best strategy for success in this existential question at the top of

the ballot? Surprisingly, it’s helping at the more local level. If we can convince voters to come

out for their local candidates (school board, state legislature, county positions), they will, with

high likelihood, vote the same way at the top of the ticket. Just imagine someone voting for

Christine Marsh in LD4 and then voting for Donald Trump? Not likely. But the opposite is often true – a decent number of Republicans in AZ vote for the Democrat at the top (due to revulsion about MAGA) and then revert to their party orientation for local candidates. Work on the local level is incredibly important.

Many of the readers of this column have also worked to get signatures on the petition putting abortion rights on the ballot. This may well be the key to turnout that will give our state better outcomes. If that citizen effort were to fail, the consequences for women in this state would be dire. But if it succeeds in bringing low propensity voters into the election, there will be consequences beyond abortion rights. We can deliver the state’s 11 electoral votes to the pro-democracy presidential candidate, Joe Biden. And we can change the partisan balance in the state legislature, removing the MAGA caucus from its current position of control.

And once that latter balance changes, we can actually start to work on fixing some of the real

problems in the state: slowing the unlimited and unaccountable flow of funds for vouchers,

shoring up our water security, and so much more.

And with a supportive majority in the legislature, we can also start looking at improving the

census and redistricting rules that have long-term implications for the state. That’s a topic for

another day.

Nelson Morgan, (Morgan) an Emeritus Professor at the University of California at Berkeley and former director of the International Computer Science Institute, is the author of “We Can Fix It: How to disrupt the Impact of Big Money on politics”, with a foreword by George Lakoff. He lives in Phoenix, and currently volunteers for both Indivisible and the Democratic Party, with a particular interest in redistricting (2030 is closer than you think)

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