If you live in Arkansas, this is what you normally experience when you watch television, YouTube, and other media:
“Mark Pryor is an Obama-loving liberal who wants to take more of your money and hand it to Nancy Pelosi…”
“Tom Cotton doesn’t like farmers, leaves us vulnerable to Ebola, and hates children…”
“Mike Ross sold his business for way too much money and lived an extravagant lifestyle as a U.S. Congressman…”
“Asa Hutchinson is only pointing out Mike Ross’s lifestyle because he got caught cheating on his taxes…oh, and did we mention he hates education…”
Everywhere I turn there is some sort of vicious, partisan attack; mostly funded by Super PACs outside of Arkansas.
Its almost enough to completely stop watching programing.
I am dismayed that we have stooped so low as to not be able to have a civil, rational debate about the future of our state and nation.
Instead we have what amounts to a bunch of kindergarteners saying:
“French Hill stole my lollipop!”
“Well, Patrick Henry Hays threw dirt on me!”
It comforts me greatly that our state/national political discourse has devolved into a pre-school brawl.
Don’t get me wrong, these races are really important, but the way to capture the gravity of their importance is not to start a playground fight.
Here are the facts:
Arkansas is a red state that is governed (at least in one senate seat and state executive levels) by light blues/purples.
Last election cycle, the Republicans took over both the Arkansas State House and the Senate.
Arkansas’ governor, Mike Beebe (D), is on his way out because of term limits (even though he is currently the most popular governor in the country).
One of Arkansas’ current senators is Mark Pryor (D), who is a light blue if not purple senator.
The candidates running on the Democratic side (Mike Ross, Mark Pryor, Patrick Henry Hays, John Burkhalter) are mostly light-blues, with purple mixed in.
The candidates running on the Republican side (Asa Hutchinson, Tom Cotton, French Hill, Tim Griffin) are mostly medium-deep reds.
Arkansas has been a Southern exception of moderate governance; the people here believe in pragmatism and doing what works for the whole state.
That is why, in my view, the state needs to hold on to the light blues.
In an increasingly polarized electorate, we need examples of people coming together to get things done.
Arkansas had been one the few bright spots in the bright-red South.
It is one thing to elect a majority of Republicans to the legislature; it is an entirely different thing to elect a Republican in every office of state government.
Especially really red Republicans.
Some people would say that Christians should never be able to vote Democrat because of abortion and gay rights and other issues.
If that is true, then I will not vote at all.
But the candidates in this race do not support any of those issues (at least not openly); there is no excuse to not vote for them over the right-wing Republicans seeking office.
I believe strongly that these light blues will be more likely to bring balance to the government of Arkansas than the medium to dark reds will.
I have seen the frightening things that happen when deep-reds take over a state.
Look at Kansas.
Look at Mississippi.
Look at Texas.
Look at Alabama.
These states have embraced deep red leadership and have suffered in various ways.
Kansas is broke.
Mississippi is dead last in everything but college football, especially education.
Alabama is racists and jails Good Samaritans for helping immigrants.
Texas is a cesspool for diseases and gun-nuts.
I do not want this to happen to Arkansas.
When deep reds get into office:
Public services become privatized
The environment is exploited and abused
The wealthy get much wealthier (as opposed to just wealthier)
Minorities are oppressed
Individual rights are pushed at the expense of the rights of the many
Now I am not of the illusion that the Democrats are angels and the Republicans are demons.
Both parties are in the pockets of competing special interests.
Both parties are controlled by the wealthy elite of this country.
In this election however, I am more partial to the special interests of the Democrats than the Republicans.
I am not a left-wing progressive, but am also not a far-right reactionary either.
I am a centrist, and I believe sanity is found when we try to govern from a balanced perspective.
What disappoints me the most about this election is that we make it a referendum on the president rather than vote for who is truly best for our state.
Bush sucks, so I am going to vote Democrat.
Obama sucks, so I am going to vote Republican.
Wash, rinse, repeat…in an ever mindless cycle.
The results of standardized public education are finally beginning to show.
By eliminating critical thinking and logical reasoning, we created two generations of zombies who do what they are told to do.
The elite aristocracy in this country have won without even resorting to violence.
It is time for the citizens of this country to take back our national discourse.
We need to do more than vote.
We need to hold politicians accountable.
We need to, if need be, form new political parties and movements.
We need to decide to change the system by actively engaging it.
I am afraid Arkansas is going to turn bright red because too many voters think to themselves, “Why vote? It does not matter.”
It does matter, but we have to start doing more than voting.
We have to start influencing.
We have to develop a spine and start standing up to the injustices of our corporation, private-sector controlled government.
That starts one community, one city, and one state at a time.
Until the noise of our cry is so loud that the government and the market will have no choice but listen us.
Because believe it or not, it is in their own long-term interests to listen us.
Grace and peace