Who are you Anyway?

That was a question I received in response to my first email. Fair question. Let me answer.

I moved to this state in 1979 and have run a company here since 1981 (www.oneilresearch.com) that does marketing research. Over the last 30 years we have served hundreds of clients with over 1,700 research projects.

Because my professional skill set is relevant to interpreting public attitudes and opinions, I have worked as an independent analyst on local television and radio for every election since 1980. (And what I have said is publicly available; take a look for yourself (http://www.oneilresearch.com/publicdomain/). I have also published my political analyses in many of the state’s publication and in such national vehicles as the HuffingtonPost. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-j-o). I have always striven for objectivity, independence and balance; since most of what I have done is freely available, you can judge that for yourself. I am an Independent both by political registration and by predilection.

Because of my independent status, I have steered clear of direct involvement in partisan politics within the state of Arizona for 30 years. While I have been an independent observer of state and national politics, I am also a citizen, and one who takes his citizenship seriously, as I do the question of what type of place I want my kids to grow up in.

As a citizen, I believe there are moments when that citizenship demands step up. You don’t break a rule you have set for yourself and abided by for over 30 years without compelling justification. I have concluded that the present destructive state of Arizona politics compels me to break this self-imposed 30+ year rule and ask for your help in a venture to help restore sanity to our politics. And I have done this publicly (see http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2011/09/24/20110924phoenix-area-pollster-slams-russell-pearce.html for a newspaper report).

Pearce has hung his hat on the issue of illegal immigration, to the near exclusion of all other concerns. And at the very least, his obsession with this issue has been grotesquely disproportionate. Since before the founding of this country we have been a beacon to the world in welcoming immigrants. To a great extent, it has defined what it has meant to be an American. American Exceptionalism means we were founded on an IDEA, not a race or ethnicity. (We also made NO effort to restrict immigration until the early 20th century). As a result, we have benefited immensely from the talents and industry of some of the hardest working people in the world.

I am aware of the concern about “illegal” immigration—and I share this concern. Every nation has the right to control its borders. But I find it difficult to work up much enthusiasm in focusing on some poor guy whose “crime” is that he risked his life walking across a hundred miles of desert in the hopes of a better life for him and his family. I reserve such anger for drug dealers and human traffickers, among the lowest forms of life, in my opinion.

And I travel the border area frequently to see the massive military buildup along our border. Those who say the federal government is doing nothing in this area haven’t been to a border area. Along SR85, for example, there is a new border patrol encampment the size of several Wal-Marts – and there are stretches where it seems that MOST of the vehicles you see are border patrols. The federal presence is MASSIVE. It is just not politically expedient to say this, so you have not heard it.

The problem, however, is that as long as Mexican labor commands $1 an hour in Mexico and about ten times that here, no power on earth will stop the inflow of people seeking a better life. Not border patrols, not fences, not any physical obstruction.

And the border agents themselves know this. Some months back at the border, I once pointed to the newly constructed fence in the distance and asked the border control agent how tall it was. His response: “It doesn’t matter; they’ll just tunnel under it”.

Arguments to “secure the border first” are phony, advanced by people who know this will never happen or simply pander to public perceptions. And people like Russell Pearce have exploited this perception without regard to the consequences for the state. As a result, in part, of his actions we have become unnecessarily divided. And he as turned Arizona into a punch line nationally and internationally.

Help us end this. The results of the recall election will help define Arizona in both the national and international press for decades to come.

Please consider a contribution. If not now, when?

Thanks for listening,

Mike O’Neil

“Citizens for a Sane Arizona” is a registered Arizona nonprofit organization. Contributions in any amount are permitted and appreciated. Since we engage in political advocacy, however, contributions are not tax-deductible.