Nationally, the election turned out well. Both the victory of Barack Obama and the defeat of Mitt Romney are reasons to rejoice, and Democrats retained control of the Senate, where they can block the worst of the Republican schemes to shake down the lower and middle classes for the benefit of the upper.
The outlook isn't brilliant closer to home. The Republicans will have a majority in the legislature now, and the only bright spot about that is that Charlie Fuqua, Loy Mauch and Jon Hubbard won't be in it. Reactionary and intensely partisan, the Republicans likely will block any legislation that appears even mildly progressive, such as the proposed extension of health care to more low-income Arkansans. First as legislator and then as governor, Mike Beebe has been the ultimate centrist compromiser, but even he will find it hard to reach constructive agreement with this new bunch. And when his term ends in two years, if the Republicans elect their own governor, which is possible, Arkansas will become fully aligned with the sad, sullen politics of other Southern states. Arkansans seem once again eager to get on the wrong side of history, just as they were in 1957. Whence this lemming-like craving for destruction? It needs study. (But at least students at the University of Arkansas didn't riot to protest the re-election of a black president, as happened at Ole Miss. And, as we said, that Devil's Triumvirate of legislative candidates was rejected. Slavery supporters, Lincoln haters, advocates of capital punishment for children, this group in office would have made Arkansas the second-most despised and ridiculed of states, just behind our neighbor to the east.)
Meanies blocked medical marijuana (bad), but just barely (good). Tender-hearted Arkansans will try again, and eventually prevail. And it was to the voters' credit that they quashed the latest plot to give public money to private developers, though Republican legislators will come up with another. State money for sharp operators is the only sort of generosity they endorse.
In the new Congress, Sen. Mark Pryor will be the only Democrat and only moderate among the six-member Arkansas delegation, all the others crouching far to the right. Just a few years ago, Arkansas had a Vic Snyder in Washington; now we don't even have a Blanche Lincoln or a Marion Berry, and they're sorely missed.
We're glad it turned out the Republicans couldn't fix the election with the voting-machine manufacturers, as some of us had feared; that foolish third-party candidates of the Ralph Nader sort gained no traction; that Latino voters stood up to their bishops; that the worst of the anti-women candidates for the U.S. Senate were defeated, though these retained the support of irresponsible Republican leaders like Mike Huckabee. The downward spiral continues for our former governor. He may have the next Republican presidential nomination sewed up.
Another outstanding column Ernie. Thank you.
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