In today’s Arizona Republic, columnist E.J. Montini admits he politicized the death of Glendale Police Officer Bradley Jones. Why? To call out all the politicians who characterize police officers and firefighters as heroes when they die in the line of duty and leaches when debating wages and benefits.
This past spring I wrote an article that spoke about that very issue. You can read it here.
Back then politicians and certain Tea Party members were demonizing public safety workers for the pension problems that resulted from the Great Recession as well as a lack of the fund’s oversight by the legislature. Somehow the collapse on Wall Street had everything to do with selfish demands of our first responders and nothing to do with corporate greed or government bailouts.
Police and fire unions strongly objected to the legislature using them as scapegoats for the state’s problems, and pointed to the hypocrisy of some politicians feigning support for first responders while drastically reducing benefits.
The result? Campaigns decrying “union support” with false claims of “outlandish benefits.”
Look no further than this year’s Phoenix’s mayoral race to see the drastic difference in the tone and language used by candidates Wes Gullet and Greg Stanton. Stanton bills himself as “pro-police” while Gullet says he’s “anti-union” and “pro-taxpayer.” Apparently, Gullet believes police officers and firefighters don’t pay taxes.
It’s a creative way to use the middle class to wage war on… the middle class. Don’t speak about corporate welfare but rather use the very men and women who protect our country as the reason for our demise.
Sadly, many in the electorate are falling for these tactics, believing unions and public safety workers are the bad guys while corporations and wealthy individuals are the job creators who deserve all the benefits and bailouts paid for by the middle class.
Montini quotes Brian Livingston, the Executive Director of the Arizona Police Association, as saying,
“It is an act of deflection to blame officers. The politicians don’t want to point the finger at themselves for their inability to do their jobs and provide proper oversight of the system and the fund managers. Instead, they blame the men and women in the field.”
Yes, Mr. Montini and others have politicized Officer Jones’ death. But they did so to point out his sacrifice should never be forgotten. And that’s one political statement all Americans should stand behind.