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I Got Misquoted in Time Magazine This Week

October 11, 2010

“I don’t like the Democrats because I don’t know what they stand for. And I don’t like the Republicans because I know exactly what they stand for.” –Unknown

I got misquoted in Time Magazine this week. Not that I really minded. Spending time with an iconic reporter like Joe Klein, and having him remember something I said (or sort of said) was a distinct honor and a privilege.

For the record, I don’t hate Republicans. My mother would never let me use that word. But I must say, in Arizona today, it’s not easy to like them.

Regrettably, many in our business community have pushed hard to elect only Republicans statewide based on a narrow policy agenda and to the exclusion of many other critical issues, like social stability, the environment, education, and quality of life.

Grant Woods, among the Republicans I like and admire most, was recently banned from his voting privileges in the GOP for the second time in his career for endorsing Democratic candidate. In response, he told the local daily, “You ask people to put party over the best interests of their state and country, and I will never do that.” What a honorable concept.

In the Gospels, Jesus said, “You can gain the whole world, only to lose your soul.” Amen. I don’t think Jesus was just talking about what selfish, single-minded behavior can affect you personally. I also think it refers to the soul of a community.

I draw comparisons to what me and others see happening with regard to the tenor of debate and the overall direction of our state. It seems to me that there is a singular focus on Me versus We. The “Me versus We” mentality goes something like this:

• If I can afford to send my children to private schools, why should I care what happens to others?
• I don’t need to think about a health and stable society, as long as I can make millions and live in a guard-gated community.
• I need to win this election, no matter what damage I do to our state’s reputation and overall economic well-being.
• My bonuses and stock options are more important than wages, healthcare or jobs for the workers in my company.

And lest you still think I hate Republicans, which I don’t, I’ll be the first to admit that I know more than a few Democrats who hold these same attitudes.

My questions are simple: What do we truly gain by promoting a “Me versus We” agenda? Who wants to live and work in a state where our children that puts education dead last? Who would want to establish a business in Arizona if they believe we do not embrace a diverse workforce? And we do. Why come to Arizona if we don’t promote innovation and new technology research with our institutions and universities?

Social stability matters – not just for the working poor and middle class, but for everyone. Providing all children in our state with the opportunity to reach their fullest potential will make Arizona a more innovative, creative and prosperous state for us all. Caring about our environment will make Arizona a better place to live.

What of the consequences for our children? We have the second highest unemployment rate and our poverty rates are increasing exponentially. What kind of a state are we leaving to the next generation and beyond?

Perhaps Arizona leaders should hear what Ivan Makil has to say. In short, Makil, a Native American Arizona icon, believes one cannot push things to the brink for your own personal gain without having serious negative consequences.

So, again, I do not hate Republicans. And I know this isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s our issue. All ours.

One day, we’ll again have leadership that thinks through the complexity of our interconnection and finds ways to focus on what’s best for us all. Until then, I’ll keep trying to make my mother proud and continue to avoid using bad words whenever I describe people with whom I disagree.

–Lisa Urias

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