Rockefeller Republicans in Arkansas have dwindled like ivory-billed woodpeckers, and are even more sorely missed. Until this week, the only one we knew of was Bob Scott up in Rogers, once an aide to Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, still a loyalist and an idealist after all these years.
Now there are two, apparently. Bob Johnson of Jacksonville, a member of the Pulaski County Quorum Court who was elected as a Republican, has announced he's joining the Democratic Party and will run for state representative next year as a Democrat. He said: "I grew up as a moderate Republican, my father was very close to Governor Rockefeller ... the last several years, the party has just moved too far to the right and is dominated by people that say 'no' to everything. Because of that, I am better described now as a conservative Democrat."
Gov. Rockefeller and the small band of legislative Republicans during his administration said "yes" to a lot of things — aid for the underprivileged, equal rights for minorities, openness in government, fairer taxes. Most of what they supported was disapproved by the legislature, but that was because of opposition from old-line Democrats, the reactionaries of their day, no better than contemporary Tea Baggers. The descendants of those benighted Democrats turned Republican.
Rockefeller would be shocked at what his party has become. Now that it finally has the legislative majority he sought, it could really help people, and it doesn't want to.
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