Is it just me or does every attack ad A$a! runs on Mike Beebe make Beebe sound like a better and better candidate? By A$a!'s reasoning, a vote for Beebe is a vote for a Democratic wonderland.
In spite of the promised liberal utopia that will surely bloom within Arkansas' borders should Beebe ascend to the State Capitol come November, I'm still supporting the independent underdog candidacy of Rod Bryan, if for no other reason than to influence the issues for the major party candidates. Of course, the major party candidates are doing everything they can to hold the issues under their own influence, notably by refusing to allow independent candidates to participate in the official debates and public forums.
The latest polls have Rod showing at 3 to 4 percent, twice the support of the more established Green Party Candidate, Jim Lendall. While his entire level support is arguably within the margin for error in these polls, 3 to 4 percent is still a substantial showing for a guy who runs a record store and works in a bakery. His supporters represent voters that the candidate for neither of the major parties are speaking to or speaking for.
In 2004, the presidential election was decided by less than 1 percent of the electorate. In a hotly contested race, why are A$a! and Beebe willing to concede nearly 5 percent of the vote? Why do they give the third party candidate a platform by excluding him from the debate? Wouldn't the more sensible idea be for one candidate to parrot his talking points, or the other to debunk his platform, thereby defusing his candidacy? Hell, even letting him sit down at the grown up's table for the debates gives the other guys a chance to expose him as an amateur Mr. Smith Frank Kapra wannabe. Strangely, by snubbing him, A$a! and Beebe are actually giving Rod credibility. His ideas have to be pushed aside, ignored, unacknowledged (with allegations that they have intimidated media outlets from covering the Bryan campaign by threatening to withhold access to outlets who do cover third parties), lest they gain some credence with the electorate and threaten to force the local candidates off the national talking points.
I don't know if Rod Bryan is the right man to be our next governor. But I do know in our representative democracy he has a right to challenge the establishment. And I believe the other candidates have a responsibility to conduct a fair and open campaign that wins voters by their stand on the issues rather than using political bullying to exclude the underdog. I hope Rod continues his political career. I hope he lectures colleges and high schools about his run for governor and the citizen's duty to hold our representatives responsible for the actions they undertake in our name. I hope he runs for the state Legislature in 2008. I hope he continues to be a stalking horse for the Governor's office. And I hope one day, by his example, our elected officials are more responsive to the people responsible for placing them into office.