Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chicanonautica: Springtime in Arizona

by Ernest Hogan 

It's springtime in Arizona. The temperature in more like early summer elsewhere. Lizards with brand-new neon racing stripes skitter across the desert in search of mates. The sunlight is rich and intense and makes the cactus blooms and wildflowers look gorgeous.

And I've got “Springtime for Hitler” for an earworm. Politics will do that to you.

Maybe it was seeing as much as I could stand of Donald Trump's speech in Fountain Hills. Not stopped by protesters blocking the highway, he did a serious fascist rap in front of a blond family in dark clothes and sunglasses that looked like models hired to represent the elegant New Nazis. It was like a scene from Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. I could only take it for a few minutes.

Fountain Hills is a town full of expensive homes, and people who are either rich or in debt up to their eyeballs pretending to be. It's named for what was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest fountain in the world, that wastes water in the desert to this day. I was sweeping the floor of an expensive house there when I got the idea for High Aztech.

Then came the day of the primary election. There has been a polling station in the library where I work, but not this time. I figured it would be a quiet day instead of election craziness, but I was wrong. Clerks spent a lot of time giving out directions to the nearest polling stations. Horror stories about long lines came in, a lot of them. Some people were mad about not being able to vote. The word “disaster” came up.

I found myself wondering . . . “Hmm, could it be that the powers that be in Arizona felt it was in their best interest if not so many people voted?”

Then it hit the news: Voters in some places had to wait over five hours “particularly in Maricopa County where Recorder Helen Purcell, a Republican, was responsible for the reduction in the number of polls from 200 in 2012 to just 60.” Which meant that each station had to serve “an average of over 20,000 voters.” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, for a Department of Justice investigation.

It's always been hard to vote in Arizona. They keep moving the polling stations, and giving you grief if you show up at the wrong one. I once saw a Native American woman treated like a criminal for that mistake.

This time a whole lot people were being treated that way.

At least the flowers are pretty. But it's getting hotter. I wonder how hot it will be in November?

And I can't seem to get “Springtime for Hitler” out of my head.

Ernest Hogan is the author of High Aztech. He lives in Arizona and mails in his early ballot as soon as possible.

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