Ron Barber said he’s a Democrat because the party stands up for the disenfranchised and represents a cross-section of ethnicities and religions. GOP lawmakers, in contrast, are a ‘bunch of white guys,’ and the party is one of big business and corporations, he said.
Martha McSally said she’s a Republican because she still believes in the party’s conservative values, which were instilled in her as a child. But, she insisted she’s a ‘rugged individualist’ who won’t be a foot soldier for any party establishment.
The comments from the two candidates for Congressional District 2 came during this week’s meeting with Arizona Daily Star editorial board. They were both asked why they identify with their parties considering so many people now consider themselves independents.
Here’s more from what Barber and McSally said on the topic:
She said she believes in the conservative principals of the Republican party: freedom, opportunity, personal responsibility, minimal federal government and free market principals.
“Those are the things that I was brought up with. . . those things were just instilled in me,” she said.
In today’s difficult economic times, the intent and philosophy of small government and less spending is the best strategy to keep money in people’s pockets, she said.
But, she said she doesn’t think the Republican party is exactly adhering to its principals. And she emphasized that she’s running on her own merits.
“I am registered as a Republican. I am running as a Republican, but I am not a party-line person,” McSally said. “I’m not a line up, fall-in-line, foot soldier by any stretch of the imagination. I’m a rugged individualist, an independent thinker and I’m a leader. So, that’s how I identify myself.”
He said he relates to the Democratic party for many reasons, beginning with the fact that Democrats have historically represented people who have been without representation or disenfranchised.
“The civil rights laws came out of the Democratic party’s insistence that we change the laws,” Barber said. “The Democratic party platform reflects a lot of those same values. The Republican party platform is one that talks about restriction of rights, particularly when it comes to people who identify themselves as gay. That’s a very cruel platform and plank on the other side.”
Barber said it’s important to protect people’s decisions and liberties, such as allowing women to make their own reproductive decisions.
“There’s a big difference between the two parties on that,” he said.
He said he has joined the “New Democrat Coalition,” which he believes represent the emerging values of the party. The coalition is dedicated to ensuring laws are in place so small businesses can grow.
The biggest difference between the two parties is that the Democratic party is one of common man and woman while the Republican party is one of big business and corporations, he said.
“The Democratic side of the House is a rainbow of colors and ethnicities and religious beliefs,” he said. “Quite frankly, on the other side, it’s essentially a bunch of white guys.”
That’s because the people sent to represent Republicans are typically the ‘big money’ people in the country, he said.
After Barber made that comment, McSally reminded him that she is a woman and retired Air Force colonel, showing that not all Republicans are rich, white guys.
“I was talking about Congress, not you,” Barber quipped.
“Well, I’m going to be there soon,” McSally shot back.
Barber and McSally were then asked specifically why they think people have become disenchanted with both parties.
“People have become disgusted, and rightfully so, with the lack of problem-solving,” Barber said.
The country has lost track of how to reach compromise, as past politicians from opposite parties once did.
“That’s the biggest issue for independents: why are you always bickering?” Barber said. “I think the polarization has comes about because we have ideological polarity . . . we have a very far right wing and a very far left wing and they really have a lot of control.”
McSally said the rhetoric is turning people off. TV ads and sound bits aimed at winning votes causes people to turn away, she said.
“Everybody is name-calling, everybody is yelling at each other,” McSally said. “That is what is turning people off.”
People are looking for individual thinkers who will stand up to the establishment, she said.
Stay tuned to the Pueblo Politics blog throughout 2012 for news, updates and information about Arizona politics. You can follow Arizona Daily Star reporters Brady McCombs, Becky Pallack and Tim Steller on Twitter.