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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: A new level of insult

by John Brummett | March 2, 2021 at 5:02 a.m.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders got asked Saturday night at the CPAC national right-winger festival why she would venture back into the political wars by running for governor of Arkansas.

She answered without mentioning Arkansas.

Sanders did not take the wide-open opportunity to expound for a national audience on her vision for the state she runs ostensibly to govern.

Instead, she answered to non-Arkansan cheering that she loved America and that the radical left was trying to destroy America "and we're not going to let them."

Apparently, Sanders runs for governor of Arkansas to round up its radical leftists occupying a couple of homes in Eureka Springs and maybe two or three in Little Rock's downtown and midtown areas, as well as, I'm advised, newly arrived in or around the Bentonville square, probably to work at the art museum.

All politics insults our intelligence, but Sanders is taking it to a new level.

She ignores, exploits and takes for granted the place she supposedly would govern. She does so for the clear purpose of advancing Trumpism's national aim to "own the liberals," feed the namesake's monstrous ego, and establish an outpost in case another insurrection is needed if the vote in 2024 doesn't turn out the way the namesake with the monstrous ego wants.

Sanders proposes in the metaphorical sense to take that hideous mobile golden Trump statue unveiled at the CPAC convention and cram it down Arkansas' throat. And Arkansas seems ready to open wide.

You do know, surely, that the radical left is not a threat to Arkansas. The radical right runs Arkansas except when a sane and standard-right Republican governor can tamp it down a bit. We soon won't have one of those.

A person running to be the next governor of Arkansas ought to emphasize ideas for stimulating economic development and health care, especially in dying rural areas.

This person ought to hold forth on closing the digital divide and rescuing public schools in Little Rock.

This person ought to weigh in on the hate-crimes bill, the need for a new Medicaid expansion waiver and the dichotomy of trying to restrict voting in a state with one of the nation's lowest voter turnout rates.

A person running for governor of Arkansas needn't attend a national right-winger festival for kneeling before a shiny golden idol of Donald Trump. But, if there, she ought to answer a question on why she runs to be governor of a place by at least mentioning the place.

To be fair, Sanders had told Fox Business a few days earlier that work-force development and education are her Arkansas priorities.

And she has mentioned Arkansas on her recent Twitter feed by exulting when the Razorbacks win basketball games, meaning frequently lately.

It was a theme of the CPAC convention for Arkansas to be represented by young right-wing politicos decrying the radical left and not mentioning the state they exploit.

But at least Tom Cotton is a U.S. senator, not a candidate for governor. (Though he might be better for that than Sarah; at least he stood up to Trump one time, on accepting the election returns.)

Cotton told the cheering crowd that the radical left hates America, believes America to be evil, opposes the Declaration of Independence and will destroy our greatness unless stopped.

What has Tom in a lather--or in the studied performance of a lather--is not the nation's racist history or lingering contemporary systemic racism or frequent recent incidents of police brutality to Blacks. It's that people got out and protested all that last summer and some of the protesters turned violent.

He does not express such alarm that others got out on Jan. 6 and protested our democracy when it didn't favor Trump and that some of the protesters turned to insurrectionists.

There is a certain symmetry. In both cases, protest was fine, but violence not.

But the insurrection was worse. The summer protests that turned violent were born of outrage over public police killing by choking of a Black man. The protests that turned insurrectionist wanted to overthrow American principle as embedded in the democratic republic founded by the Constitution.

The summer violence over race was frightful and should have been prosecuted. The violence Jan. 6 was a flash of civil war.

Cotton holds the position--or at least declares the position--that to criticize America for falling short of its magnificent ideal is to hate America.

But I'll put it as I put it in a column more than a decade ago: America is always great, but it is not always good, as on race, as in Vietnam, as for rounding up Japanese Americans.

Saying that doesn't make one a hater of America. It makes one a lover of America. It makes one an advocate for endeavoring to evolve and venture ever closer to that ideal.

I say that fully warned that our next governor apparently is going to come for me.


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 protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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