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OPINION | JOHN BRUMETT: Searching for togetherness

by John Brummett | November 10, 2022 at 3:17 a.m.

The New York Times, which many of you despise if I read the election returns correctly, summed it up Wednesday morning in a splendid paragraph.

It reported, or analyzed--or, if you insist, opinion-ized--as follows: "America leaves these midterms a fiercely divided country, unhappy enough with President Biden to embrace divided government, but unwilling to turn fully to the divisive, grievance-driven politics of Donald Trump. The very polarization of the country functioned as a check, as the passions of one side offset the other."

The markets breathed a sigh of relief, saying essentially: Neither side will be able to do anything. Thank goodness. Now maybe we can make some money without fear of the volatile or the crazy.

The House apparently will go Republican, but only because it must win fewer of the 40 or so too-close-to-call districts as of Wednesday morning. That'll be fewer than Bill Clinton lost in his midterm and fewer still than Barack Obama lost in his.

The Senate could stay 50-50 and out of Mitch McConnell's control if Rev. Rafael Warnock, in the Dec. 6 runoff with the football guy of the absurd and hypocritical right, can get the same Atlanta-area turnout he got Tuesday.

The Senate came down two years ago to Georgia's odd runoff. So shall it again. Things aren't much different overall from 2020.

The reason for Biden's softly landing midterm is the same reason he's president in the first place. It's Trump. Exit polls Tuesday showed the madman's approval rating to be 36 percent. He has blabbed and bellowed himself into pervasive tiresomeness. Republicans were burdened by him heavily, if not absolutely fatally in the way Arkansas Democrats were burdened by Biden and Schumer and Pelosi.

Still, though, because the message of the election is a logically contradictory blend as the Times said, about 200 election-deniers of Trump's cult got elected across the country.

The individual winner in all of Tuesday's madness? Plainly that's Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican governor overwhelmingly re-elected.

Sarah Sanders is the spawn of Trump, a property of his fund-raising network. But she's also smart. She ended up running more as DeSantis than Trump. DeSantis is all about contemptuous ownership of the liberals. Trump is all about exalting himself.

It became clear Tuesday that DeSantis has taken the swing out of Florida. The state of the Bush-Gore tie is now, 22 years later, fully crimson.

DeSantis beat former Democratic governor Charlie Crist by 19.5 points. He took once-liberal Miami-Dade County by 14 points. That county, which Hillary Clinton carried by 21 points in 2016, is now, six years later, DeSantis-ville. Or at least it was Tuesday.

Trump may run again. He might get the nomination again. But DeSantis is the clear alternative if Republicans have sense enough not to nominate Biden's, and the Democrats', best friend.

Meantime, we need a few words about the Little Rock mayor's race, which was supposed to be close, maybe even runoff-bound, but wasn't. Embattled Mayor Frank Scott won it, seemingly going away.

It probably happened because of that word, "embattled," more than the fact that Landers was not a good enough politician or communicator to fashion a message other than he wanted to do something about all this crime.

Late in the campaign, a white liberal blogging investigator, the white liberal Arkansas Times and a white moderate prosecuting attorney--and, to some extent, straight reporting in this paper--rose up either to reveal or assail Scott's lack of transparency and ethics, and his flouting of the Freedom of Information law, to favor cronies with city business.

The NAACP took offense, publicly calling these what they weren't: race-based politically motivated attacks. From that, it seems, Scott's base in eastern and southern Little Rock became fired up.

I got more than one communication from Black readers saying it was telling that I so disapproved of the revelations against Scott while I'd sat obliviously by while white good ol' boys had done the same thing for so long.

I take exception to "sat obliviously by" but can see where such criticism is coming from. But an unreported past story doesn't excuse a well-reported current story.

Scott celebrated his victory by calling for togetherness as one city. That's ambitious.

The first tall order of business will be for Scott and leading white liberals on the City Board of Directors to come together as the directors try to monitor the mayor and his office more closely.

The last thing Little Rock has is togetherness, east to west, north of I-630 to south, Black and white, police force to mayor, and, now, for good measure, Democrats divided into white liberals and Black people.

Little Rock is historically a challenge, as we know.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.



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