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Battling for votes, sharing the same agenda

September 3, 2004 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,
Arizona has been declared a "battleground state" for the 2004 presidential elections. Both Bush and Kerry spent several days here recently, trying to convince huge crowds to vote for them. But when you look at what each candidate said, the only question is: "Battle over what?"

One key issue is immigration. Right-wing anti-immigrant groups got Proposition 200--dubiously titled "Protect Arizona Now"--on the state ballot for this fall. It would require everyone trying to vote or receive government services to prove their U.S. citizenship. It would also require government employees to act as immigration cops and report "cheaters."

Bush declared the proposition a "state issue" and declined further comment. This response, of course, rings of the infamous segregationist response to the fight against Jim Crow--that such racist laws were a "state's rights" issue.

And Kerry's response? He said that it's up to the states to decide "what to do with respect to their own expenditures." Not only is this the same position as Bush's, but it's also a lie. The majority of the services that will likely be denied to immigrants are federally funded. It is precisely not a state's rights issue.

Further, Bush has become infamous for his "cut-down-the-trees-to-save-the-forest" policy of allowing private timber companies to log forests on federal land. Again, this issue is huge in a state that sees thousands of acres burn each year in normally natural forest fires.

Yet as Kerry stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon, trying to invoke a poorly worn image of a great environmentalist, he declared that he, too, agrees with Bush's policy of thinning forests--but just where they encroach on homes and businesses. So as the pundits blather on about the critical importance of Arizona's votes for this election, we really have to ask ourselves, "Where's the difference?"

Outrageously, the Kerry campaign led a Florida-style disenfranchisement campaign to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot last month. So progressives will have to write his name in--and start to organize now to push back the reactionary policies of whoever wins in November.
Jeff Bale, Phoenix

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