The last thing you or I or anyone else wants to think about is the $6 billion, three-year presidential election that seemed to start a decade ago and finally, dear god, staggered to an exhausted, exhausting and completely predictable end on Nov. 6.
The night before the election, my quilting circle met at my house (we always meet the first Monday of the month) and agreed, to a woman, that we were so tired of it that all we wanted was for it to be over. Who cared who won? As long as the noise stopped. As it finally did.
Not just the subsequent quiet—2012 was the year when millions of older people finally learned never to pick up their phones without checking who's calling—but the shock on the right has been some recompense.
Who would have guessed that Karl Rove was as deluded as his astounding election-night performance on Fox News revealed him to be? Who knew that the right had talked itself into thinking it could win with a candidate no one liked?
Another entertaining reaction has been that of John McCain, who, in the aftermath of election results that revealed his party to be ever more self-destructively out of touch with the nonwhite, nonmale majority, doubled down on pinning Benghazi on a woman of color. (When someone gets killed at an undermanned post in an unstable Middle Eastern country, there must be White House skullduggery to uncover. Obviously.) Way to wake up to a new era, John.
But the most-surprising Republican reaction to the outcome, for me, was Jan Brewer saying that the Electoral College should be abolished. For a moment, I was startled. I agreed about something with Jan Brewer?!
But then she kept talking, and I relaxed. Because of all the many reasons that our antiquated, anti-democratic, creaking stagecoach of an electoral method ought to be done away with, Brewer offered the screwiest, most-childish rationale possible: The Electoral College should be abolished because it keeps Arizona from getting enough attention.
Yep. We're a state that, despite the best efforts of Jared Loughner and Joe Arpaio, suffers from a lack of national attention. (Brewer's own contributions are also worthy of note. Losing her mind for the better part of a minute in a debate? Endorsing Obama by mistake at the GOP convention in front of a national TV audience? Shaking her finger in the president's face? These are indelible additions to cementing our collective reputation as the cactus-studded land of mean craziness. Or of crazy meanness. It's hard to tell which.)
There is a light, though, in which Brewer's complaint makes practical sense: Arizona is so solidly red that broadcasters here miss out, big-time, on the river of gold pouring through the airwaves every four years. Advertising time in the states that are really in play gets marked way, way up for months. The presidential campaigns (including their associated PACs) spent $173 million in Florida alone. Admittedly, Florida's a big state. But little Nevada, right next door to us, reaped $38.2 million with less than half of our population. I couldn't even find a final number for presidential-campaign spending in Arizona—we were that far down the list—but at the beginning of October, it was a paltry $536,000 for Obama, and $718,000 for Romney. The difference, of course, is that in Nevada, the election was actually up for grabs. In Arizona, it never was.
How the chamber of commerce stands for it, I honestly do not know.
So how's this for a stunningly simple economic-development opportunity: Move Arizona toward the middle. Because the Electoral College will not be abolished before 2016—and it may never be—our state's leaders need to get their act together now, and start planning to show a little electoral ankle to the country at large. Demographics will do the trick in the long run, but we're looking at a big payday just four years away. And as long as cranky retirees keep moving here, they'll partially counterbalance the broader population trends.
This next time around, let's see a little discipline and a reining in of our most-embarrassing politicians' exhibitionism. Let's show a bit of moderation, maybe even some undecidedness, in the Grand Canyon State. There's money to be made.