People may wonder why a politically conservative, LDS member of the Sons of the American Revolution would support a challenger to Sen. Russell Pearce in the recall election on Nov. 8, 2011.
It is a fair question.
First, as to the recall itself, it is not a real threat to the free exercise of discretion on the part of elected officials, as some have claimed. Recall elections will not become commonplace because this one succeeded. The Arizona Constitution provides that, where constituents become unhappy with their elected representatives, for any reason or for no reason, they may petition for a recall election. The fact is, the Constitution provides a way for the people to exercise their dissatisfaction, and calling for an election is not, under this Constitution, only for extreme cases of illegal or corrupt activity. That is what impeachment is for.
I was not involved in the circulating of recall petitions, and I do not support the agenda of most of the people who did. I also did not sign a recall petition. But now that we know the degree to which dissatisfaction exists, and knowing there will in fact be a recall election, I do not hesitate to endorse and campaign for worthy challenger Jerry Lewis.
Second, many of us who support Lewis in the recall election are extremely conservative; we agree with the incumbent’s position on most issues. The problem is, focus has been lost. In my personal case, the last straw was a slew of bills that were defeated this year by Republicans in the Arizona Senate, including a new interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution attempting to deny citizenship to those born in the United States. On Pearce’s website is a “legal analysis” of the intent of the framers of the U.S. Constitution, which infers that the framers would be horrified to learn how the 14th Amendment is being applied 200 years later. I disagree. In fact, the federal government didn’t even regulate immigration until the 1900s. Pearce’s plagiarized analysis was not based on fact or history.
This country was built on the proposition that people could enter it, work hard and achieve the American Dream. Circumstances have changed that we are no longer able to accept all who wish to come here. I have no problem with closing the border, and neither does Lewis. The fact is, millions of people are here illegally, and it is not realistic to think we can or will “evict” them from this country, dividing and destroying families in the process. Enforcement policies implemented by state governments are incomplete and ineffectual. That approach has turned into practical and political reality, and Arizona now suffers the consequences of its enforcement-only approach toward immigration. It simply does not and cannot work.
Third, I realize that there are those who will label me as “radical” and perhaps even “unpatriotic” on the basis of my support for Lewis and my opposition of Pearce. People who know me or who investigate my background will discover that I am neither. I am simply a citizen who is upset about mean-spirited obsession with immigration (at the expense of other more pressing issues, such as education and the economy) and frustrated that the real business of state government has been pushed aside.
This campaign is about priorities, focus and style. It is about avoiding inflamed statements and policies that damage communities and cause contention, and it is about getting to the business of state government. I support Lewis because his priorities are in order: close the border, work with the federal government to insure that immigration is properly addressed without acrimony, and pay attention to the business at hand in the state of Arizona.
— Clint W. Smith serves as a co-chair of Jerry Lewis for Senate.