Sarah Garrecht Gassen

Is the Arizona of today — the status quo — the Arizona you want for tomorrow?

This, at its most fundamental, is the question to answer on Tuesday’s Election Day. It’s not a partisan question, but an American question.

And it’s the question that millions and millions of dollars have been spent to keep you from bothering to answer.

Do the ads that rip at one candidate really make you want to go vote for his or her opponent? Or do they feed the sick feeling that it’s all a waste of time and your voice doesn’t matter anyway?

The triumph of those nasty awful ads would be for you, a registered voter, to stay home. Pushing people out of the process, throwing enough noise at them to give up their vote, is a sideways attempt at voter suppression. Don’t let it work.

So again, the question. Do you want the same thing in the upcoming legislative session as we saw in the last legislative session? Is this what is best for our state?

I know how I answer the question — the Arizona of today is not the Arizona I want for tomorrow. The cost of the unfettered status quo comes at too high a price. We need change. We need to make investments in people if Arizona is to succeed as a state.

Arizona needs elected officials who won’t stand up in court, as they did this week, and claim it’s “impossible” to pay back the millions owed to the public school system, while refusing to close tax loopholes and going ahead with planned corporate tax cuts. That’s a decision on priorities.

Arizona needs elected officials who will think for themselves and follow their own path, not one laid out for them by ideological groups bent on pushing a narrow agenda at the expense of the big picture.

Arizona needs voters who evaluate with whom candidates align themselves — not only in terms of candidates’ own supporters, but who they support. Associations with organizations and individuals are designed to send a message to voters.

Arizona needs elected officials who have had the courage and courtesy to appear in public before potentially unfriendly crowds. A candidate who disrespects voters by canceling debates or refusing to appear will be an elected official with no regard for constituents.

Along those lines, refusing to explain your record, including controversial votes, tells a voter everything he or she needs to know about who the candidate thinks they work for — and it’s not us.

This is how I answer the question, in the big-picture way. Everyone’s answer is her own, as it should be.

Each registered voter — and why anyone who is eligible to register but doesn’t bother is beyond me — has the civic obligation to say “enough” to the cesspool of negative campaign ads, unchecked distortions and candidates who won’t answer questions.

And the only way to do that is to vote.

Sarah Garrecht Gassen writes opinion for the Arizona Daily Star. Email her at sgassen@tucson.com and follow her on Facebook.