Sunday, May 23, 2010

Is Arkansas Out of Step?

Across the country it seems like more and more Americans are worried that the country is headed in the wrong direction. This primary season has been marked by justifiably outraged citizens across the country ending the political careers of politicians they considered close to the “establishment”.

This was seen out west in Utah where incumbent Senator Bob Bennett finished 3rd of three in his state Republican caucus. He will not be on the ballot in November. It was seen in the east, were Virginia Democrats sent home a ten term incumbent Congressman who backed too much spending. It’s happening in the north where Massachusetts elected a Republican to replace Ted Kennedy. It’s happening in the middle of the country where Rand Paul, son of the libertarian-leaning Texas Congressman Ron Paul, beat the establishment’s pick for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in Kentucky.

It’s happening all of those places, but for some reason its not happening here. I love this state and its people, but I am often frustrated by the disconnect between what the average person says they want and the way that the vote comes out on election day. Are Arkansans out of step with the mood of the nation? If so, why?

Blanche Lincoln is in a run-off, but she is being challenged from the left. Her opponent Bill Halter does not fault her for a failure to hold down government spending, but rather for not growing it fast enough. Republican voters claimed to be upset about the bailouts, but then they elected John Boozman, the only guy in the eight man field who voted for the bailouts. Were that his only big-government vote it would be bad enough, but his recent record is one of consistently voting for bigger spending and passing it on to the next generation in the form of more debt. If people really did not want more government spending and debt, they had a perfect chance to express it. Instead, regardless of what they may claim that they want, they voted for more of the same.

That was not the only race where the pattern held. In the 2nd congressional district, Tim Griffin was an insider and he handily beat his outsider opponent. In the 3rd district, there really was not a candidate connected to the Washington establishment to the extent that Boozman and Griffin are, but still the two candidates who could most fairly be described as being insiders, Womack and Bledsoe, are in the run-off.

Voters here think of themselves as “conservative”. John Boozman ran as a “conservative”. My idea of what that means must be different from theirs. I think of a conservative as someone who believes in fiscal responsibility, limited government, and that essential power should be exercised at the lowest possible level rather than be consolidated in a distant national capitol. It’s based on skepticism about what government can do, and an awareness that human beings are very corruptible by power.

I suspect that another definition of “conservative” prevails in Arkansas. That is the idea that the people who have been running things should continue to run them, regardless of performance. It’s less about ideas than social connections. I understand that people, especially those whose lives are going well, are reluctant to vote for outsiders. They want to keep what they have. Trouble is, we are in a situation where we have to change our political habits just to keep what we have. The only rational way to judge a politician is by what they have done, not what they say or how nice they seem.

21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I guess that is why we are known as Dumb Ole Arkies. All joking aside, there are so many reasons and aspects wht this happen. None of it making sense, yet one can understand why it happened. I would directly blame the leadership of the state party. You start with Doyle Webb, his background and history and the party loses intergrity, credibility and people walk away. There is more, but what is the sense. The system is set up for a revolving door of corruption and back slapping while we pay for it.
Yet some of us keep trying. What else if there to do quit?

12:46 AM, May 24, 2010  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I don't understand the reason for it. I don't think a state chairman could have that much influence. More a symptom than a cause.

I think it has been going on a long time. "Conservative" Arkansans kept David Pryor and Dale Bumpers in the Senate a long time. Blanche is not more liberal than they are, she is just not as smooth.

Is it the state media? Is it something in the culture? All people make decisions based on some combination of facts/candidate's record vs. their personality/social connections. It just seems that here the bar is skewed much farther to the latter direction than it is around the country.

4:13 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because u drink the wingnut koolaid doesn't mean the rest of us have to.

5:16 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. When 80% of the people soundly reject the offering of nutcases and unknowns in favor of one particular candidate that you don't care for, it's time to check to see if you're the one out of step.

7:37 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous RockThisTown said...

5:16 & 7:37 Anons: No, the reason Arkansans vote the way they do is akin to an abused spouse staying with the abuser. The abuser has convinced (brainwashed?) the victim that he/she can't do any better, that he/she could never make it own his/her own, financial security, etc. It creates an almost irreversible inferiority complex within the abuser. Then their kids grow up to be abusers/victims themselves. Those who work in the domestic violence field will tell you it's a vicious cycle difficult to break.

Arkansas voters have been abused by pols for years, and yet, they keep electing & re-electing those who abuse them. The only way for the cycle to be broken is a catastrophic economic collapse, the blame for which can be placed nowhere except on the abusers. Until then, expect more of the same.

9:25 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous In the Minority said...

Anons 5:16 and 7:37 appear to be examples of why we keep getting stuck with big spenders for our "leaders". I can't say I understand the process that led to them deciding that what Arkansas REALLY needs is more of the same big government, but evidently there are too many like them for us small-government types to out vote.

10:20 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, is that right? And just who do you think the people should have chosen for US Senator or congressman?

10:30 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That question was for RTT, but let's have your golden picks, too Minority.

10:31 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like the blog admin is yanking comments

10:32 AM, May 24, 2010  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

This is the typical response of those unable to defend their choices with fact and reason. They simply resort to juvenile name calling.

If I am out of step with Arkansas voters, but Arkansas voters are out of step with what is happening across the country, I hardly see how that makes me a "kool aid drinker". What is important is which of us is out of step with reality? I submit to (not you, but those able and willing to consider facts and reason) that our current fiscal course is unsustainable, that the bailouts were a gross robbery of the taxpayers, and that our only rational option is to change course even if all we want to do is to keep our lives about the same as they are now.

If that is true, then voting for John Boozman was a mistake. His ads touting what a "conservative" he is are either based on a fundamentally different idea of what that means, or - like McCain who is now running commercials about how we need to get tough on illegal immigration- a deliberate deception.

10:50 AM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous RockThisTown said...

Anon 10:31: The citizenry will keep getting more of the same unless they elect those with spines who can & will go to DC and stand up to the mindless, herd-like taxing, spending & borrowing going on that will eventually wreck the dollar and bankrupt our country. Some of our creditors are already nervous about the massive debt load with which we are burdening coming generations of workers/taxpayers and whether we can pay it back.

Sadly, there were few if any of those types on the ballot this time. Boozman voted for the bailout, and Blanche is no better. Halter is a reverse Robin Hood - taking from the poor (& thereby increasing social costs to all of us) and giving to the rich, with the lottery.

12:33 PM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree- but you didn't answer my question.

The fact of the matter is that the party fielded a slate of LOSERS for us senate, and Boozman with all his warts was considered the safest bet by a strong majority. That reflects less upon the voters than it does upon the republican party. You can't just be against someone, you have to provide a decent alternative.

1:50 PM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry cannot agree, Boozman may have won the GOP race, but he recieved less then 10% of the total registered voters. Lots of room to grow or make mistakes. And as much as you want to discount, slam, poke fun at or armchair quarterback Drown, he will have some influnce in this race. I know, I know 5%. Also said by the same people who said he would never get on the ballot. That was not luck by any means. The guy is not stupid. I would expect we will see an interesting threeway race over the next six months. And gawd help the GOP if Glenn Beck gets ahold of him for an interview.

4:09 PM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it: the Glenn Beck approach. What a strategy.

You'll be kicking the can around here in November just like the Holties are right now. No one can believe their boy can lose until he does, and then they make excuses and blame the voters. But at least the Holties don't have the re-election of Lincoln as their best case scenario.

Tell me, did the Democrats and/or unions pay any money toward Drown's petition fund?

5:08 PM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no offense but some keep saying their is a gigantic economic collapse coming just so they can spout some weird econ solution that's really from the loony bin.
we just took a 7 to 10 trillion dollar hit and we are still standing. spending is out of control but where where u when W was racking up all that debt?

6:08 PM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...just so they can spout some weird econ solution that's really from the loony bin."

You mean, a system like the country operated under for the first 150 years of its existence, rather than the criminal enterprise that has terrorized us for the last century?

6:45 PM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked at Drown's campaign report, if the unions did help pay for his petition drive, I didn't see it. He collected and spent less than $7,000 over ten months. At 10,000 signatures that is less than $1.50 each. That is a bare bones campaign He spent less than anyone else and got on the ballot. Baker's cost per voter was what $45 a vote. All I am saying I wouldn't discount his effort or the people out there that stumped for him. As far as getting Blanche out we all had our chance at the first primary. Time will tell if she survives.

7:09 PM, May 24, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arkansas is out of step with the rest of the country and especially the South as it has been for some time now.

However; Arkansas is not out of step with Arkansas.

Arkansans have their own definition of a conservative which has been and continues to be foisted upon the peep by the glanging gong of Mike Huckabee and the Huckabites.

If you are, as Huckabee called the band of republican legislators "shiites" back in 2005 for not supporting his massive spending increases, tax increases and centralization of power to the State away from local gov't control policies, for smaller gov't you will get lambasted by the highest profile conservative in the state Mr. Huckabee.

Huck loves "arkansas conservatives" yet hates and attempts to marginalize true conservatives at every turn even on his TV show.

He is the Grand Pubah of misinformation / obfuscation of issues so as to advance himself at the cost of destroying the party here in Arkansas.

Sid McMath

5:16 AM, May 26, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we to understand that you're tagging Huckabee with the results of last week's primary?

11:02 PM, May 26, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard rumours it was Huckabee that formed the group that encouraged Boozman into the race.

4:47 AM, May 27, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Boozman's co-called campaign manager (What was there to manage? Boozman had like 2 appearances. Until last week, he'd been hiding under his desk in D.C.) was Huckabee's daughter, Sarah.

Looks like the various establishment groups united to defeat anyone outside the party's comfort zone.

7:40 AM, May 27, 2010  

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