It has been about three months since I left the most wonderful job I ever had and probably will ever have: being your state solicitor general.
I must admit to being very content living back full time in Northwest Arkansas with my wife and kids instead of spending the weeknights in a small and sparsely furnished apartment in North Little Rock. And my current ethics work on the Global Governance team at Walmart is fascinating. Still, for me, there is simply nothing that beats standing up in federal or state court and being able to say, "I represent the people of Arkansas."
Looking back on my three years, I am overwhelmed by one emotion: gratitude. Gratitude to the attorney general for appointing me, and giving me space to develop and direct strategic litigation efforts. Gratitude to my wife and kids for letting me heed the call of public service despite the personal sacrifices it meant. Gratitude to my gifted colleagues at the attorney general's office for their teamwork, patience, and commitment to excellence. Gratitude to God for giving me the skills, passion, and judgment necessary to do the serious--sometimes life-and-death serious--work of the office. And gratitude to the people of this amazing state for welcoming me with open arms and letting me serve you in this unique position of public trust.
I once sat in a meeting of a committee of the United States Senate and heard a Texas senator introduce a witness as follows: "Well, he wasn't born in Texas, but he made it there just as soon as the good Lord let him." That about sums up my feeling for the Natural State.
I wasn't lucky enough to be born here. But one of the greatest blessings of my life was to move here five years ago for a job with Walmart. In Arkansas, my wife and I found the home we had always dreamed about. And I am not talking about a house. I am talking about a community of kind, generous, welcoming, helpful, and down-to-earth people.
I am talking about a state where we can go to a world-famous art museum in the morning, meet our friends for a mountain hike in the afternoon, and relax at a rodeo in the evening. I am talking about a place where I can still leave my front door open and let my little kids play in the yard by themselves. I am talking about people who genuinely care for and help each other--not because the government makes them do it but because it is the right thing to do. I am talking about good folk who offer use of their Christian church for services because my Jewish temple flooded beyond the point of repair. (True story.)
This is my home; this is where we will raise our kids; this is where we will live our life; and this is where we will spend our twilight years, should we be blessed with them.
And so, I write this open letter for a simple purpose: to say "thank you." It was truly the honor of my life to serve this state and its people for three years--to use my legal skills to repay in a small way the loving kindness and abundant spirit in which you have taken me in as one of your own; to advance the rule of law, without which our legal system cannot survive and our judiciary would turn into nothing more than an aristocratic super-legislature imposing its will on us all; to defend our express constitutional liberties from encroachment by government, so we may each primarily live our lives and raise our families according to our own dictates and conscience; and to keep violent criminals off the streets so that our children may grow up in a safe and wholesome environment.
Politics and governing is a rough and volatile undertaking. In some ways, that is as it should be--after all, we are talking about government's enormous and coercive power to affect people's lives and liberties, for good or for ill. In other ways, it's far too rough and volatile these days, even given the high stakes involved.
Sometimes, if only for a minute, and especially during campaign season, it is worth taking a step back and celebrating how blessed we are to live in this state and to be part of this community. As someone who has lived in numerous places around the country, I can testify that it is quite a precious, extraordinary, and different thing to be an Arkansan. Its uniqueness is worth preserving, even when politics is pulling everyone and everything apart at the seams.
Lee Rudofsky is the former solicitor general of Arkansas.
Editorial on 10/19/2018