Barabak: Arizona’s lunacy reveals menace to democracy persists

Meet Wendy Rogers.

Her political credentials embrace antisemitism, a hyperactive promotion of outlandish conspiracy theories, a passion for the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy and Vladimir Putin, and consorting with the outspoken racist and white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

In a well-earned rebuke, Rogers was censured by colleagues in Arizona’s state Senate final yr after calling for her political foes to be hanged. The vote was bipartisan and overwhelming.

Despite all that, or perhaps due to it, the Republican now heads the state Senate’s Elections Committee.

You can all the time depend on Arizona for loopy.

The state, an emergent presidential battleground, has change into a political enjoyable home, a carnival of continuous election denialism the place clownish politicians and grifters proudly parade. (Often, they’re one and the identical.)

You could recall that zany audit — quote, unquote — of presidential ballots in Maricopa County, which included an eagle-eyed examination for traces of bamboo — proof, it was stated, of Chinese meddling within the 2020 election.

The end result not solely confirmed Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump however added a number of votes to the Democrat’s successful complete.

Or chances are you’ll recollect that slate of election deniers — candidates for U.S. Senate and Arizona’s governor, lawyer common and secretary of state — who bid for a top-down takeover of the state and its election course of.

The quartet met with deserved defeat in November, and the refusal of a number of of them to confess they misplaced has turned them into strolling punchlines. (“Kari Lake Furious After Arizona Awards Her Participation Trophy,” the New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz gibed in a poke on the sore-losing gubernatorial hopeful.)

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It can be humorous, in a type of all’s-well-that-ends-well vogue, if it wasn’t so severe. Clearly the menace to our democracy, and its nemeses, haven’t gone away.

In November, the voters of Arizona spoke loudly and clearly about driving out the lunacy-mongers of their midst, casting their ballots for sanity and the sanctity of our election course of. But the president of the state Senate, Warren Petersen, selected to disregard that.

Petersen, an ally of Rogers, appointed her to guide the Elections Committee after she backed his elevation to the management submit. He was one among two lawmakers who signed subpoenas that led to the farcical audit of the 2020 election.

Fortunately, Arizona has a brand new Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, and her veto energy ensures that none of Rogers’ nutty concepts shall be enacted into regulation. That’s to not say, nonetheless, the senator can’t — or received’t — do hurt.

Chairing a latest listening to, the election-denying, conspiracy-spreading Rogers admonished witnesses to not use the phrase “election denial,” deeming it a partisan epithet, and cautioned lawmakers towards utilizing the phrases “conspiracy theory.”

So a lot for reality.

Rogers then turned the listening to right into a showcase of fakery and tinfoil-hat testimony about alleged fraud, centered this time on the 2022 gubernatorial race.

Lake echoed these phony claims in a subsequent podcast interview with Stephen Ok. Bannon, the previous Trump strategist, accused swindler (let off the hook by a presidential pardon) and super-spreader of political misinformation.

Thus churns the conspiracy mill.

It’s straightforward and tempting, as soon as extra, to chuckle it off.

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Rogers, for her half, is chortling all the way in which to her marketing campaign treasurer’s workplace. Having constructed a nationwide following after hitching herself to Trump and his donor-milking machine, she reported elevating practically $2.5 million final yr, which evidently set a brand new legislative file for Arizona — topping the mark she established in 2020.

But the seriousness and authority conferred on somebody as reckless and delusional as Rogers shouldn’t be tolerated, or ignored.

There is a weight that comes with a proper legislative listening to. The solemnity of the setting, by no means thoughts the testimony itself, lends the proceedings a sure credence.

If a state Senate committee sees match to take up a matter, some could suppose, there must be a minimum of some grounding actually. A gavel confers gravitas, whether or not the particular person wielding it’s deserving of respect or not.

The bigoted, racist and simply plain nutty will all the time be amongst us. But crackpots like Rogers shouldn’t be elevated and given the ability and platform to legitimize their hateful and loopy beliefs.

There have to be a brush closet someplace in Arizona’s Capitol to lock her away.