The past few years have seen Arizona repeatedly in the national spotlight. The state's controversial SB 1070 law made Arizona the focal point of a national immigration debate. Then in 2011, the shooting in Tucson of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — an act of violence that killed 13 people and left six others injured — again brought national attention to the state. A controversy over the Tucson school district’s decision to remove books used for Mexican American Studies fueled a national debate about education reform and how we should approach issues of culture and ethnic identity in public schools.
With the presidential campaign in full swing, issues like immigration, gun control, and education are being discussed on a national stage, and Arizona is inevitably a key part of that conversation. Jeff Biggers, author of “State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream,” says that identity issues have always been inherent to Arizona.
"You can't understand the headlines today — the Arizonification of American we keep talking about — without understanding the history of Arizona." From the time of the Civil War, long before Arizona officially became a state, there was debate over whether the territory would support the Confederacy or the Union. In 1912, Arizona entered the Union with the most progressive of state constitutions, yet became a center of conservatism in the '50s and '60s with the rise of Barry Goldwater. Today, Arizona is at the forefront of a 21st century states' rights movement.
To Biggers, SB 1070 is not indicative of the direction the country is going in, but rather a holdover from a mindset we are moving away from. The reason the book is titled "the final showdown of the American Dream" is because Biggers believes this to be "the last gasp of this final generation who are denying the contributions of immigrants in this country."