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The future of Arkansas Democrats 

The future of Arkansas Democrats

It's one thing to duke it out and lose. It's quite another to not even put up a fight when it comes to these important congressional races.

First, Arkansas progressives found themselves wondering what the heck happened to our Forrest Gump candidate in AR-03; now we're supposed to come to the defense of ol' sud-sippin' Grandpa Herb in AR-02. We sent up a school bus driver against an impressive bunch of D.C. insiders in AR-04. Thank goodness for Scott Ellington in AR-01, who at least gives us a shot of not being shutout completely this fall. Seriously, is this the best Dems here can offer? Exactly what was it that the state party did to "regroup" following the historic GOP gains in 2010? No push to recruit top-notch candidates? Are we quietly just waiting it out until President Obama is off the top of the ticket before we even try again? If not, why does it feel that way right now? Don't we have to hold the party chairman somewhat accountable here?

Sadly, Governor Beebe does not use his broad popularity to push anything bold or progressive, or even to really push for other Democrats down-ticket. Historically popular politicians generally try to leave their mark on history, but I just don't see a reduction in the grocery tax or a landslide re-election as having a lot of staying power in the minds of future generations. If he were maintaining his spot above the fray in anticipation of a run for federal office, perhaps that approach would make sense. Otherwise, it is just a big ol' disappointment. Perhaps the left's biggest guns here, Bill Halter and Dustin McDaniel, are already setting the stage for a primary bloodbath in two years. And as we saw in the Halter v. Lincoln war, spending millions to tear down each other didn't bode well in November with so many hard feelings still lingering. As much as I personally admire Halter and his ideas, this "secrecy" he maintains to what his next moves will be make it difficult on other progressives possibly considering runs of their own or wanting to build a movement behind his winning populist message.

It's beyond time for progressives here to rebrand themselves (being champions of government ethics reform and protecting the environment in the era of fracking could be winning issues to start) and start developing a roster of young talent to run for office over the next decade. While there has been some movement on this front with progressive groups forming, it must go beyond occasional e-mail list updates or get-togethers downtown to drink and socialize. Considering that seemingly everyone just looked around with shrugged shoulders when it came time to run against Congressman Griffin and his record — from the state's most progressive and populated region in a seat long-held by someone like Congressman Snyder — just seems to prove that apathy has indeed settled in and that Democrats are subtly just allowing the complete GOP-takeover to occur.

Jeff B. Woodmansee

Sherwood

Done with Lancaster

Thank you Bob Lancaster for continuing to beat a dead homo chicken into the ground. Here is my philosophy: If you don't like the music, change channels. If you don't like the opinion of an owner of a restaurant, don't eat there. If you are tired of people writing about homo chickens, don't read them ever again. Done!!!!

Scott Griffith

Little Rock

Situational support

Don't you find it curious that the left supports gay marriage only when it is opposed by white Christians, but not when it is opposed by African Americans or Muslims? Where are the protests in South Central L.A. or at your nearest mosque?

Michael J. Emerson

Little Rock

From the web:

In response to Max Brantley's column, "GOP extremism v. Beebe" (Aug. 8):

Here is where someone usually responds with something like, "The Republicans won't be satisfied until we have the same level of government as Somalia." Those of us who see government simply as a tool of the people and not some evil entity in and of itself like to respond to the extremism of current Republicans with the same kind of hyperbole. It's a fun exercise, but I'm coming to believe that the consequences of Republican extremism are just too scary to bother with that anymore.

I fully believe that Arkansas Republicans truly believe the Reagan screed that government is, in and of itself, evil. If you believe that, then there all kinds of corollaries that follow, most of them leading to the belief that the only way to redeem government is to starve it, and damn the consequences.

I'm sorry, but the Democratic Party has let us all down, at least here in Arkansas. Certainly they had the deep racist tendencies of the Arkansas electorate working against them, having an African-American in the White House, but why in the world did they have to just throw in the towel? We didn't end up with only one Mike Beebe overnight. Party building is a constant activity. Was it the murder of Bill Gwatney that got us in the mess? Who was asleep at the wheel? 

Or maybe it's Beebe himself who bears some responsibility for all this. Maybe he's been as ineffective at party building for the Democrats as his predecessor was for the Republicans in the '90s.

Either way, we're in a hell of a mess now. We're soon to have a government of the Taliban, by the Taliban, and for the Taliban.

Perplexed

Submit letters to the Editor, Arkansas Times, P.O. Box 34010, Little Rock, AR 72203. We also accept letters via e-mail. The address is arktimes@arktimes.com. We also accept faxes at 375-3623. Please include name and hometown.

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