Monday, June 18, Arizona State Senator Bob Worsley, Republican from LD-25, announced he will not seek re-election exiting political office at the end of his term. Senator Worsley released the following guest opinion:
After six years in the Arizona Senate, I will not seek re-election.
Public office was never a position I sought. But when I was recruited by concerned constituents in 2012, I set aside personal endeavors to answer the call.
Since that time, an increasingly caustic political climate has devolved both in Arizona and in Washington. Regrettably, I now feel I can better impact society through resuming my private endeavors than by continuing in elected office while the GOP takes a nap.
We’ve lost the art of compromise
As legislators, we are elected under the banner of a party flag. Yet the districts we represent are comprised of diverse people with an array of needs and opinions.
Irrespective of those differences, voters and legislators alike are asked to cut, squeeze, twist and trim their worldviews into one of two buckets: Republican or Democrat.
Alarmingly, blind ideological allegiance to only one of the two buckets has created a political atmosphere where the most poisonous word an elected official can mutter is “compromise.”
The byproduct of a climate where compromise is viewed with such disdain is the loss of truly lasting solutions to difficult problems.
Oversimplification only hurts us
Issues are almost never black and white. There is nuance and complexity in nearly every challenge facing society. We do ourselves a disservice when we oversimplify complex issues to fit a strict adherence to political ideology.
I am generally conservative but prefer to be thought of as a governing Republican rather than as a conservative ideologue. While in office I used my life’s experiences and best judgment to vote with Republicans when I believed the party represented my constituents and Arizona’s best interests.
When there were common sense solutions that did not fit into party platforms but did fit into the best interest of the voters, I sided with the voters.
We’ve also forgotten civility
Sometimes, difficult political decisions require immunity to fevered backlash from those prone to oversimplification and demagoguery.
Whether promoting a kinder, more empathetic approach to immigration than Senate Bill 1070, or providing a responsible safety net to those in need through Medicaid expansion, I am no stranger to such backlash. But in these instances, and others, I weighed all options with deliberate consideration and voted for human dignity over ideology.
Differences and disagreements are a given anytime there is more than one person involved. What should not be a given, however, is debasing and vitriolic rhetoric toward those with whom there is disagreement.
Civility has become a rare commodity in political debate, a fact that worries me greatly.
Aim higher than where we are now
Lack of civility in politics is not a confined phenomenon. It has bled into our neighborhoods. Increasingly, we associate only with those who share our opinions while viewing those who do not as bad actors.
This is not only detrimental to the political process, it is harmful to our communities. On this issue, I agree with Sen. John McCain who recently said, “we are more alike than different.”
I ran my campaigns on one word: Elevate. It is the singular value that has guided my life. If a problem cannot be solved on the plane on which you stand, step higher.
I still have great hope in a bright future for our state and our country. It has been my honor to serve for a season and now allow for others to have their season.
I hope I have left a legacy of genuine concern for all people and the notion that good solutions should never be bad politics.
Arizona Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, represents Legislative District 25. Follow him on Twitter: @bob_worsley.