Why Arizona Represents the American Political Past, But Not Its Future

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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." 


Jeff Biggers

Produced by:

Maggie Penman and Mythili Rao

Comments [4]

Brian Plummer from Prescott, AZ

OH how typical of the left; the name calling, the double-standard, the confusion of facts. The segment heard Mr Bigger's refer to Sherrif Joe's tent city. Have you not repeatedly heard Joe say that prisoners should not live in a better standard than our soldiers (Republicans & Democrats) who are legal citizens and who wear the uniform, may be deployed overseas and are under far more tough conditions? And Mr Biggers said that "Arizona"(???) refuses to acknowledge the historical contributions of immigrants. Says who? We are talking about ILLEGAL immigration, not LEGAL immigration where people are registered, work AND pay taxes AND make positive contributions to society. The left missed it again.

Sep. 25 2012 04:13 PM
Louis from Ft. Lauderdale

There needs to be a middle ground on immigration. Republicans want to demonize immigrants as job takers and destroying the American identity. Democrats want to exploit them by offering benefits to them that not even Americans are entitled to. Neither side has a resolution going forward just spouting their ideologies.

Sep. 25 2012 03:43 PM
Richard from Boston

I listened to this segment and was totally frustrated by the characterization of the tea party members and conservatives as people who wish to stop immigration. This is absurd. Many of us come from families who first came to America from other countries. We want to stop ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. The USA is a country of laws. One basic principal of US law is that no one is above the law, no matter their station, their skin color or their wealth. If you wish to immigrate to America you need to follow the immigration laws already in place. Why is that seen as a radical position to The left? As far as I can tell, the gov of Ariz is only concerned with stopping illegal immigration. I have never heard her or any conservatives say they wish to stop all immigration.It's this kind of reporting that makes many of us very wary of mainstream media outlets. You have a clear liberal bias...and it blinds yo to the most basic truths and facts.


Sep. 25 2012 12:30 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Wild Wild West has not gone away... All I kept hearing was the theme of Raw Hide the television show as I listened to this segment

Sep. 25 2012 09:59 AM

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