Reward the good guys 

In theory, the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion 30 years ago would not be an issue in an Arkansas governor’s race or attorney general’s race, since neither office has jurisdiction in the matter. In practice, abortion may be an issue in both races this year, as there are people passionate in their beliefs who will not tolerate a candidate that disagrees, even if the disagreement seems irrelevant to the office the candidate seeks. It’s an old rule of politics that the voters decide what issues are important.

Usually, the “pro-life” side has more supporters who actually vote than does the “pro-choice” faction, which includes many who believe that women should retain dominion over their own bodies, but don’t believe it strongly enough to go to the polls.

Arkansas’s “pro-choicers” had best not be lackadaisical this year. Asa Hutchinson and Gunner DeLay’s call for overturning Roe v. Wade will produce more votes than will their stance on issues less emotional but more pertinent. They’ll bring it up again and again. Mike Beebe and Dustin McDaniel have both said that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. Even if there’s little they can do about it, good intentions count for something. They need to be rewarded by the “pro-choicers” just as surely as they will be punished by the “pro-lifers.”

Indifference, the excuse that one candidate is basically the same as another, helped put George Bush in office. Surely, no one still believes that Bush is no different from Al Gore or John Kerry. (We started to say “helped elect,” then remembered that Bush wasn’t elected but court-appointed. He is an ardent pro-lifer, by the way, and appoints no judges who aren’t.)

As the playwright Tony Kushner says, we are always agents. When we don’t act, we act. When we don’t vote, we vote.

That champion of the overdog, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page, has lately been trying to present itself as sympathetic to the little guy, demanding repeal of the state sales tax on food. But it is the little guy who derives benefit — in the form of public schools and other services — from the income the tax on food provides. To advocate repeal without suggesting a way to replace the lost revenue is cynical in the extreme. The D-G would do well to read its letters-to-the editor page, where Dr. Charles Venus, an authority on the Arkansas tax structure, points out that poor people would be much better served by an earned income tax credit than by repeal of the sales tax on food. Public-interest groups have in the past asked that Arkansas adopt an EITC. We don’t recall the Democrat-Gazette coming to their aid.


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