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However, the national political party structures are driven by the far left (liberal) and the far right (conservative) – and that, too seems to filter down to the state parties. It is next to impossible to effec- tively govern from the extremes. Successful, effective and progressive leaders govern from the middle because that’s where the majority of the populace is. Our trouble and the problem with federal and state government is that many people who run for office are either far left or far right thinkers. Tat gives rise to partisan politics and a stalemated government. More often than not, the main goal of each party is to increase its own power and influence. Te R’s and the D’s see themselves more like natural enemies than a group of patriotic statesmen. Instead of working to dominate and silence the other they should be cooperating and compromising to effectively and progressively move our govern- ment forward. I am a Democrat. But like the

vast majority of Arkansas Demo- crats I am a moderate Democrat – even conservative on moral issues. I’m where most people are in their political thinking. What does that mean? It means I am in the middle. I’m in the area where you can effectively lead and govern. It does not mean I’m straddling the fence – but it does mean that I can find common ground on most issues to help solve a problem. As food for thought let’s take a look at the words of some influen-


tial leaders in this country from years gone by. n Te father of our country, George Washington, in a message to American Catholics said, “As mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more able to allow that those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope to see America among the foremost nations

in example of justice and liberality.” n Ralph Waldo Emerson, a writer, minister and the father of

American Transcendentalism – an early movement of independent thinking and severing ties to organized political parties said, “We are reformers in spring and summer.

In autumn and winter we stand by

the old. Reformers in the morning; conservatives at night. Reform is affirmative; conservatism is negative. Conservatism goes for comfort;

etaining your capacity for reason is common sense.

reform for truth.” n Interesting words from R.H. Fulton included these, “Te highest function of conservatism is to keep what progressiveness (liberalism) has accomplished.” Te words of Mr. Fulton clearly illustrate that the right levels of conservatism and liberal- ism can co-exist and in a natural relationship. What is unnatural in governing is extremism from either spectrum.

” Te idea of common sense in

government is solid advice at all levels of government. But, as the general election is upon us and we elect State Representatives and State Senators for the Arkansas

General Assembly, let’s hone in on county government and its rela- tionship with state government, especially the state legislature. How do we rise above partisan politics? We start by facing the truth. Te answers to county government

problems will never be found in liberalism or conservatism. Each side is too limited, committing itself to a constrained approach that refuses to accept possibilities that disagree with their basic ideologies. Common sense tells us that a healthy life embraces both change and tradition – not pitting one against the other. Human nature should approach problems directly for reasonable solutions – not indi- rectly, as does partisan politics for less meaningful or negative results. County government problems are not solved through party labels

but through common sense. Political extremists dominate the talk shows and garner the news headlines even though the majority of vot- ers remain moderate. Moderates combine the finer points of liberal- ism and conservatism – change and tradition. Neither liberal nor conservative in their own right are bad words or philosophies. Liberalism at its best seeks creative but moderate reform to enhance the lives of people based on reasonable assumptions. Tis is a good thing. And conservatism, properly applied, preserves what is best from the past and restrains progressive tendencies to a more cau- tious pace. Tis is good, too. When we’re sick we take a good dose of the right kind of medicine.

Partisan politics, in my estimation, is a sickness that needs a good dose of medicine. As the legislative session starts in January, we must espouse that county government problems and needs do not carry a party label and are not solved by a party label. Tey are only solved by a good dose of common sense which embraces both change and tradition. “Retaining your capacity for reason is common sense.” (Eddie Jones, county consultant, of Pocahontas served as Randolph

County Treasurer from 1981 until taking the reins as AAC Executive Direc- tor in 2007; he retired that post in mid-2010. Readers can reach him at:


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