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Dear GOP: Shape up, people 



This is an open letter to Arkansas Republicans, which means it pertains only to persons residing in Northwest Arkansas and certain bedroom communities of Little Rock or attending extremist fundamentalist and evangelical Christian churches.

Dear Gilbert, Clint and assorted others named Hutchinson or DeLay or related to persons named Hutchinson or DeLay:

I am torn between feeling sorry for y’all and chortling that you got precisely what you deserved.

I have these underdog tendencies. I find myself lamenting your lot, which is to try to rise from minority status and effect change while the entire southern and eastern sections of the state languish as a static culture where a Democrat has a 60-40 advantage simply because he’s a Democrat.

But when I behold the absurd candidates you foisted on us, and when I further behold the lying and demagogic and mean-spirited nonsense you spouted, I find myself wondering how anyone anywhere could have possibly cast even a single vote for your side.

You couldn’t even get the Republican newspaper’s endorsement? How pathetic is that?

You asked us to elect a governor who had no better sense than to run an ad with little kids calling his opponent names. Then you set up a supposedly “independent” group that ran ads flat-out lying about one of my old columns. It was the creepiest campaign I’ve witnessed in the state, and I knew Sheffield Nelson and Tommy Robinson.

You asked us to elect an attorney general whose campaign came down to showing pictures on television of gay people kissing each other. You asked us to elect a lieutenant governor who doesn’t believe in government.

Still, it’s important at times like this to remember the wisdom of Lou Holtz: Nothing is ever as bad or good as it seems.

You guys have won statewide races before and surely you can again.
You’ve done it in part by taking advantage of the occasional Democratic failing. You’ve done it in part by fashioning some measure of mainstream appeal that extended beyond your extremist base and outside your geographic pockets.

We must keep in mind that if the Win Rockefeller had maintained his good health, and if your primary voters had shown the good sense to nominate him for governor instead of Asa Hutchinson — a gargantuan if, I admit, considering that these same primary voters nominated Jim Holt over Chuck Banks for lieutenant governor — we might have had a very different story election night. Arkansas politics runs famously counter to national trends. If Asa Hutchinson could hold Mike Beebe to 5.5 voters in 10, I’m wondering what Win — God rest his moderate and gentle soul — could have done. He’d have won black votes. He’d have had a prayer in certain southern and eastern sectors.

Sad fate intervened in his case. But it was your pure lamebrainness that intervened otherwise.

You had a chance in the primary to nominate for lieutenant governor — to run against the thoroughly unknown and seemingly vulnerable Bill Halter — a prominent, accomplished, respected and decidedly moderate Little Rock lawyer with strong ties in Mississippi County in eastern Arkansas. I mean the aforementioned Chuck Banks, a former U. S. attorney. But now he apparently and understandably has sworn off politics altogether considering that his own party — or at least the dominant sector of it — overwhelmingly rejected him for the zany Jim Holt.

And Stubby Mayberry for Congress? Or have I combined two of your cartoon characters into one?

Here’s my advice: Look outside Northwest Arkansas for your candidates. Look outside the right-wing churches. Look outside people with toxic political names such as Hutchinson and DeLay. Give people more than pictures of gay people kissing. Quit lying about my columns. Quit doing smears and start talking about how to make government better from a fiscally conservative and reform-oriented point of view.

Arkansas needs a two-party system. If you guys can’t beat this, I’m about ready to go Green.

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