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OPINION: Is electorate ready for change?

by Leo Lynch | March 24, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted an article on a new political group called commongroundar.org. It is a new organization offering disgruntled Arkansans an opportunity to join a group of independent political minds --- or should we say "independently political" minds? The new group has been formed with the choice of former Republican State Senator Jim Hendren deciding to leave the Republican party affiliation and become an Independent. Senator Hendren, from Sulphur Springs, represents District 2 of Arkansas' 35 Senate Districts.

If you have a serious interest in politics, which takes a backseat to health issues for most of us currently, the commongroundar.org website displays an interesting statistic. One graphic shows Arkansas' voters as having the following political party affiliation: Republican, 40%; Democrat, 21%; and identifying with neither party, 39%.

A percentage of those "neither party" persons may belong to Libertarian, Green or other generally smaller parties. However, for a ground-swell opportunity it looks like a time to consider other options if one was displeased with the events that took place Jan. 6 in our nation's capital -- Washington, D.C. Regardless of who you blame, the activities were an embarrassment to what we stand for as a nation.

Arkansas may look like an unusual test site for considering a movement to see if the electorate is ready for change but every new business expects to become a success with its new product. Some do become the General Electrics and Ford Motors because they believe in what they offer and have the determination to achieve their goals over a longer time frame. The seriousness of the leadership, whether business or political, makes a very significant difference in the success or failure of a new effort to establish a base. Please remember Ross Perot's new political party didn't last very long without his money.

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Arkansans seem to be willing to elect governors who meet the personal criteria of the voters without concern for the party label. Mike Beebe continues to impress me with his Democratic affiliation as our governor for eight years. However, his real political legacy includes his Arkansas Senate time (20 years) and his time as Attorney General. As Arkansas' 45th governor, he was preceded by Republican Mike Huckabee and followed by Republican Asa Hutchinson. Beebe was known as a pragmatic deal-maker during his political years in office, but he governed with a minimum of fanfare. Whatever political party we chose to associate with, the proof of their success lies in their accomplishments. It is interesting to note that an article on Wikipedia reports that during Mike Beebe's time in office, Asa Hutchinson and Sheffield Nelson were working to build-up the state's Republican party.

Their results speak for themselves.

It is probably too early to be talking about politics and political campaigns now that President Biden is in office and hasn't passed his 100-day test. The outcome of the vaccine program will play a large part in refocusing Americans on a normal life style. And, our nation will pass another couple of trillion dollars debt on to the next generation. The sooner we can find out what the "new normal" has become, the better off we will be as a nation.

How many employees will continue to work at home? Will food and other online purchases continue to be delivered directly to the home ? What will become of the travel industry as we know it ? Will online education find a way to compete with face-to-face classes ? Or will online education become the norm ? Does online teaching produce education of the same quality as face-to-face classes?

More women are being seen in the national political arena as mayors and at the state level as governors. When we look at the future of Arkansas we see two ladies joining the trend and considering running for the role of governor. One of them has name recognition, but not a resume including elected offices held. Can name recognition and some White House exposure get you elected to the governor's office? Particularly this question is important when opposing a sitting elected state officer. Only time will tell.

If northwest Arkansas continues to gain Republican strength and the population growth continues, we could easily see additional respect for this area's political views. Any place you look in Benton County there are signs of a booming economy and the new home construction indicates it will continue into the future. Will these circumstances make the Independent effort easier for the new commongroundar.org ?

The world has changed. When political clout is so much about the ability to raise money will politics and the parties change also?

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Editor's note: Leo Lynch, an award-winning columnist, is a native of Benton County and has deep roots in northwest Arkansas. The opinions expressed are those of the author. He is a retired industrial engineer and former Justice of the Peace.

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