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Progressives Make

Statement In Phoenix

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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
In The Conservative Hotbed That Is The Phoenix Metro, Progressives On The National Scene Gather To Get Out Their Broader, National Messages And Also To Engage Local Groups And Issues

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By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

July 21, 2015 — Over the past half-century or so, Arizona and Phoenix have gotten a reputation as a conservative hotbed.

From Barry Goldwater to Joe Arpaio and beyond, the state and central region likes their politics — and politicians — idealistic, red and conservative. Heck, the state has had a republican-dominated Congressional delegation for most of the modern, post World War II era, and selected a democratic candidate for president once in the past 40 years — Bill Clinton in 1996.

The only “progressive” name that continues to resonate that came out of Arizona in the past several decades was Janet Napolitano, and we know how that turned into disaster: six years of Jan Brewer as governor.

Last week, Donald Trump made a big splash in the Phoenix metro, after all. Considered a joke in many places, thousands flocked to hear Trump’s bombastic rhetoric.

So, it was a bit of a surprise that Netroots Nation decided to come to the Phoenix Metro this past weekend. Not just that they came here in July, but that they would embrace the Phoenix metro.

Sure, the group and many other progressives on the national scene are focusing upon immigration as a prime issue in the 2016 election cycle. But to put that issue forth in Arizona was a bit of a head-scratcher.

Consider the doubts resolved.

Now that the weekend is over, it is clear that Arizona — long written off by reputation alone as a conservative stronghold — is progressive, too.

There were more than 80 workshops and events held at the Phoenix Convention Center, but Sen. Bernie Sanders’ and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s events, and specifically their interrupted forum show just how far this state has come.

Sanders, a self-professed socialist, drew thousands to a rally Saturday night. O’Malley engaged with Puente and discussed immigration reform. For progressives in the state and Phoenix metro, it was more discussion emanating from their political perspective than is typically discussed in a typical year.

Sure, there were hiccups.

The interruption of the presidential candidate forum with O’Malley and Sanders was unfortunate for the two candidates, but it managed to maintain a bright spotlight on #BlackLivesMatter.

In the end, even though Arizona and the Phoenix metro and not yet a progressive hotbed and remains in the hands of conservative dogmatists, progress was definitely made this past weekend.

John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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