All signs point to resounding victory for cynical Trumpism in Arkansas on Tuesday. We appear ripe for a meanness mandate in the Natural State.
Arkansas likely will advance its alliance with the only available alternative to the national Democratic liberalism that seems to disgust heavy majorities in this culturally conservative part of the world.
That's the only mitigating context I can offer for the state's meanness--that Arkansans aren't really as awful as Donald Trump or their votes; they simply see no option other than Trumpism to whatever it is about Nancy Pelosi that they find even scarier than a demagogic, values-devoid, right-wing despot of a president who lies, contrives and mocks, thus inflaming the bigots and the crazed.
U.S. Rep. French Hill seems likely to win re-election over a Democratic opponent who brought a sterling resume and smiling niceness to a street brawl.
Clarke Tucker never managed to make Hill answer for voting to take assurances of premium-equity health insurance from cancer patients. Perhaps that was because Arkansans support taking assurances of premium-equity health insurance from cancer patients--at least by a federal mandate that runs up their own premiums.
People ask: What are these Trump voters in Arkansas going to say when they lose their health insurance? The answer is that they're probably not going to say anything, considering that they won't lose health insurance if voters in suburban House districts in northeastern and Californian regions bail them out Tuesday.
Hill probably got much more traction with his disgracefully slanderous intimation that Tucker was in cahoots with violent immigrant gangs. But the fact is that Hill wasn't the first or even primary maker of that charge.
Tucker was running as much against Tom Cotton as Hill. It was Cotton's Republican Majority Fund PAC that spread the gang sleaze using deep research to target mailers and digital ads to Trump voters who had no real connection to Hill and could be motivated to support him only out of ... you guessed it ... fear and resentment.
Cotton's PAC did a lot of what Hill lacked the stomach to do--for a while. Cotton is a full-bore Trumpian--the son the president never had.
It's also a factor that Republicans figured a winning Tucker in the 2nd District would be Cotton's Senate re-election foe in 2020. Pre-emption is always the best defense.
"Where is the decency?" Tucker wound up asking at the end.
At the moment, it's mostly in those suburban House districts in those northeastern and Californian regions.
Hill has been buoyed by Trump's soaring approval ratings ever since the Democrats blundered in the Brett Kavanaugh affair and Trump went to Mississippi, approximately as mean as Arkansas, to mock a woman who accused Kavanaugh of a teenaged sexual assault.
That Trump approval rating has not been noticeably eroded by the preposterous and Russian-endorsed second-place president's racist lying about the Honduran refugee caravan trying to foot it to American asylum and still hundreds of hard miles away.
Nor is there any indication that Trump's popularity in Arkansas has been diminished by the fact that his tone and tenor at primitive rallies inspired a supporter to mail pipe-bombs to several Democrats. Nor is Trump politically inconvenienced in the state by an American Nazi's murdering 11 Jews in their synagogue in part because the synagogue helped resettle innocent refugees such as those Trump has been railing against.
Meantime, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, otherwise a nice man, will reap 60 to 65 percent on Tuesday amid his relentless ongoing Trumpian ejection of thousands of poor people from Medicaid expansion under the guise of a "work requirement" that, by his own admission, is a political tactic.
He is convinced that he can't keep Medicaid expansion alive at all in this resentment-fueled state unless he delivers uninsured poor people to the Republican-overrun and widely corrupt state Legislature. Republican state legislators blame poor people for not getting off their behinds and winning elections to the Legislature to live off lobbyist retainers and unremitted state income taxes.
The Trump administration is aggressively pushing legally dubious state-by-state Medicaid waivers to install work requirements. Arkansas--with its abundant poverty and history of not much caring about those stuck in it--has gone first. Our state's silly computer-click fiasco will be thrown out in federal court by spring, probably, but that will merely madden the local meanness.
Life is so bad for Arkansas Democrats that, for encouragement, they look to the state's most historically Republican county.
Benton County is booming and dynamic, and, as such, more likely to offer political change than the stagnant rest of the state.
There are admirable young women running for state legislative seats on the usually vacant Democratic ticket in Benton County. Their campaigns have shown vibrancy. Their performances Tuesday bear watching, even if more for an emerging trend than an immediate outcome.
Amid meanness amok, the state could use even a little hint of a counter-trend.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at email@example.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 11/04/2018
Print Headline: Meanness run amok