Thursday, April 25, 2013

Symptoms vs. Problem on State Republican Obamacare Betrayal

 "The fun irony of AR politics. It was the Republicans who brought Obamacare to AR. " - Liberal blogger Michael Cook.

It does not matter that many if not most of the Republican legislators are flat out lying about what they have done. The liberals know that what the Republicans helped to pass is Obamacare. The nation knows it. Informed conservative activists know it. The only ones on the scene that don't know it are the "activists" who don't want to know it. They don't want to see what was in the bill and compare it to the claims.

The people who know that the men and women they worked to elect did the opposite of what they said they would do on the central issue of the last election are understandably upset.   Efforts of the betrayers to re-direct attention to all the things they did right amount to little more than asking "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"   Many of them are ready to turn disgust into action.  But what action?

Glenn E. Gallas of Hot Springs is rounding up support for a ballot petition which would send to the ballot a referendum to effectively undo what the Republican legislature just did- implement Obamacare in Arkansas.   I support his effort, though I have my doubts that Democrat Attorney General Dustin McDaniel will play fair as far as approving their ballot titles and getting it on the ballot.  Still, I want it on the ballot.  The people turned over the legislature for the first time in 138 years and the biggest issue was whether or not to implement Obamacare.   Shockingly, though the people made this dramatic course correction, the new bunch did pretty much what the old bunch would have done.

I am afraid that the real problem runs much deeper than this one issue.   What happened here was a symptom of  a grotesque malady that is rotting our body politic.   It was not the problem, it was a symptom of the problem.  Yes, I think we should treat the symptom, that is what the referendum would do, but it is a gigantic mistake to think that treating the symptom is solving the problem.    

Our candidate selection system in America in general, and Arkansas in particular, is broken.   We may keep trying to treat the symptoms this disease produces, but we cannot begin to heal the patient until we treat the real systemic problems.    Our nation was designed so that the Legislature would be the "People's Branch" that made the laws.   They were to check and balance the Executive and Judicial branches.   The state governments were to check and balance the federal government.   None of these intended actions can occur when Executive Branch Officials and Legislators are members of the same political party and when state and federal officials serve in the same parties.   

The party system has ruined the legislative branch for its intended purpose.   Legislators don't need to hear from constituents anymore.   They get their marching orders from the other politicians in their party like the Governor or they hear from their party bosses.   And in DC where this thing is really run, the Red Team and the Blue Team are funded by a lot of the same people.

Oh you might try to run some "outsiders" in a party primary against the incumbent, but if that incumbent has served the party well, there are a dozen ways they can tilt the primaries in their favor.   And if your outsider wins anyway, they can undermine them in the general so they will lose, then blame the grassroots for the loss.  I know.  I helped an outsider win two state-wide Republican primaries.

It is time we neighbors started asking ourselves just exactly why we need to route our candidates for the state legislature through a political party headquartered eight hundred miles away and staffed by people who are more interested in pleasing large corporate donors than blocking the growth of socialism/fascism.    It does not take a million dollars to be competitive in a race to serve in a state legislative seat.   It does not take thousands, or even hundreds, of campaign workers.    Since it ruins the intent of the Founders to have state and federal officials all serving in the same parties, maybe we should consider other options for candidate selection in our races here at home.   As broken as our present candidate selection is, it would be hard to do worse.

The main argument against it might be that "splitting the vote" in some races will result in the election of our least-preferred candidate.   That is not a reason to limit our choices to the same two political gangs that have ruined the country, its a reason to change our election laws from our ridiculous "first past the post" method of determining a winner.   We have run-off elections for city and county races, and those governments seem to work pretty well on much fewer resources.   

If we really want to get their attention, we should change the election laws to permit run-off elections at least in state legislative races.   That would allow people to vote their conscience without fear of "splitting the vote."     These guys know that Arkansas is a one-party state in many state house and senate districts, and they know incumbents who play ball with the party get a lot of help.   Right now, once they are in, they don't need you anymore.  Un-rigging the election laws would change that.

In the days and weeks to come, I and some others hope to reach out to activists around the state and begin a dialogue about what we can do to not just treat the latest symptom of our broken candidate selection system, but heal the root cause as well.


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