Arizona Loves the Constitution, Hates the Government

Arizona has been pretty clear in the past that they aren’t a huge fan of government mandates.

The legislature fought tooth and nail over allowing the state to participate in Medicaid expansion during the Affordable Care Act implementation, despite the thousands of residents it would help access affordable healthcare. Meanwhile, pushes to legally allow discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and sexual identity have become commonplace under the banner of “state’s rights.” Now the state continues to solidify its anti-federal government stance with new bills refusing to acknowledge executive orders by the President of the United States. At the same time, the GOP is arguing that gun rights were given to them by God.

What could go wrong with that combination?

According to Laurie Roberts at The Republic, the bill in question is House Bill 2368, which would forbid the state from recognizing any presidential order unless Congress (yes, that constantly roadblocking, do nothing political body) has approved it. As Roberts points out, that not only means that immigration reform and other executive measures state Republicans disapprove of can just be ignored, but it also means that millions of dollars on projects and policies that they do agree with would be lost as well, all in the name of standing against the president.

That’s because the body also wants to pass HB 2463, a total rejection of the Affordable Care Act, which, of course, did pass congress so it doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the previous bill. Together, Roberts notes, that could mean a massive amount of lost funding for disease prevention and other health care issues for vulnerable populations, all of which the GOP justifies in their “war” against President Obama.

“The panel..voted 4-0 to pass bills. Democrats didn’t even bother to show up. Can’t say I blame them, given that they were going to have precisely no impact on getting Republicans to stand down,” reports Roberts. “This, after all, is war and war is hell. Especially on babies needing immunizations and citizens hoping to prevent an outbreak of disease that constitutes a health hazard to us all.”

If the war rhetoric sounds a little dramatic and heavy handed, it really shouldn’t. At least, not when you consider two other bills being debated in the Arizona legislature, this time regarding gun rights. According to some bill supporters, gun rights come not from the constitution, but from God above.

Talking Points Memo reports, “Discussing two gun bills, HB 2320 and 2431, Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R) said that the Second Amendment supplies ‘God-given rights’ to defend oneself, in a video flagged by the Phoenix New Times. Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales (D) rose to oppose one of the bills, and threw in a note of correction to her colleague’s statement about the divine. ‘Twice on this floor I’ve heard members say that I have the God-given right to bear arms, and since I know that God didn’t write the Constitution, I just wanted to state that,’ she said. ‘And I vote no.’”

That didn’t stop GOP lawmakers from doubling down on the God talk, with lawmakers praising the country’s leaders for writing the Constitution and then Farnsworth reading parts of the Declaration of Independence and alluding to the founding fathers as being divinely inspired. “They believed that God gave them to us. And that’s what the Second Amendment defends, is our God-given right to protect our life, that God gave to us,” he said, according to TPM.

First, you have lawmakers who believe that the federal government should have no power of authority over that of the states, and that states should have the sovereign right to reject federal law that they disagree with, even (or maybe especially) when that law is explicitly from the desk of the leader of the nation. Meanwhile, they believe that “God-given rights” supersede any potential federal or even state restrictions that could limit said rights.

Why yes, that does start to sound a bit like someone is prepping the way for a theocracy.

Many conservative lawmakers hide behind state rights and ape local sovereignty when they don’t like whomever is in the White House, so what is happening in Arizona is sadly not that new. Like far too many conservative states, Arizona’s GOP makes noise about loving the Constitution, it’s just the federal government they can’t seem to abide.