That was the day that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, the most heavy-handed immigration state law in the country at the time, into law. According to my memory, people all over the country — students, parents, young folk, old folk, Tuiteros, Facebookers, emailers, teachers, politicos and activists — were crazy with worry at the time.
What do we do? How could this happen? Is this 2010 or 1910?
I remember a palpable feeling of frustration and concern over what we knew would be a racial profiling mandate for law enforcement and countless steps backward for a country that promised us all that we were created equal. Well now we can also remember November 8, 2011 as the day that culminated in all of our efforts to reverse that terrible law, starting with the recall of its sponsor, Senate President Russell Pearce. (Albeit it votes are still being tallied).
Because this is the first time a state official in Arizona has been recalled, and because that recall took place because largely because of community activists rallying around the group Citizens for a Better Arizona, it’s safe to say, I believe, that the recall illustrates the power of the vote. In the face of big money and powerful people, I like many others was dismayed in the past year as workers’ rights and other anti-immigrant (read: anti-Latino) laws were implemented in Alabama and Georgia.
But for me, sitting behind a computer screen far away from Arizona, it seemed so powerful that an idea turned into signature gathering that turned into the toppling of an entrenched, monied political figure in Arizona who wreaked so much havoc for so many of us. Jerry Lewis, who beat Pearce in the recall, barely seemed to believe it himself, telling statepress.com, “Just 12 months ago, my opponent won a landslide election. He is one of the most powerful politicians in Arizona and deep-pocketed.”
Organizing and voting is not magic, though — it’s a lot of work. It’s taking extra time out of your day after you’ve worked hard at your job to contribute a little bit to an effort like this. It means time and sacrifice and fatigue. But in an era when corporations have the same rights as people, when entrenched candidates like Russell Pearce have big donors and when it seems like nothing we do can make a difference, a recall election in Arizona surprises you.
What I hope is that the passion and excitement of this moment leaves a potent impression on all of us as we move into the 2012 election season, that all of us find a reason to continue to be involved, to organize, to take some time after work to make a difference. NewsTaco is working on ways to help get out the vote in 2012, to join in your efforts, please feel free to let us know what you’re doing in your hometown.
¡Felicidades Arizona![Photo By Arizona State Legislature]