Perot a force from the outside

By Steve Brawner, © 2019 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

A man for whom I cast two votes for president died Tuesday.

Ross Perot ran for president as an independent in 1992 and as the nominee of his Reform Party in 1996. His temperament was not a good match for the presidency. But especially in that 1992 campaign, he did something no other major candidate in my lifetime has done: He made the national debt a major campaign issue, successfully educated Americans about it, and offered real solutions to solve it and other problems.

At the time, the debt was a little more than $4 trillion, or about $16,000 for every American. Today, it’s $22 trillion, or about $66,900 for every American. It will grow roughly $1 trillion this year, and that’s in a good economy.

Perot, the billionaire businessman born to modest circumstances in Texarkana, Texas, could not abide such irresponsibility. And while other candidates try to manipulate us with slick ads, divisive rhetoric and poll-tested sound bytes, he ran substantive 30-minute television commercials where he explained problems and offered solutions.

One of those attracted 16.5 million viewers. Imagine that. A man discussing politics with hand-held charts had almost as many viewers as this year’s “Game of Thrones” series finale (19.3 million), supposedly a national event. And Perot’s were broadcast when there were 74 million fewer Americans. Continue reading Perot a force from the outside

An interesting week for non-Republican-Democrats

By Steve Brawner, © 2019 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

There are few encouraging weeks for Americans who don’t fit into the two-party system. Last week was at least interesting.

On July 3, District Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of a new law that makes it harder for third parties to qualify for the Arkansas ballot.

The injunction means the law won’t take effect while Baker considers the case’s merits. It was brought by the Libertarian Party, the state’s only really active third party.

Under previous law, parties have qualified for the ballot if they won 3% in the preceding presidential or gubernatorial election. Otherwise, they’ve had to collect 10,000 valid signatures over a 90-day period.

The Libertarians fell just short of that 3% in the 2018 governor’s race, so they must collect signatures for 2020. A few months later, legislators and the governor passed Act 164. It increased the required number of signatures to 3% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. The Libertarians would have to collect 26,746 valid signatures in 90 days rather than 10,000. They sued, and meanwhile on June 28 submitted 18,667 signatures to the secretary of state’s office. Continue reading An interesting week for non-Republican-Democrats

Will 2020 follow 2008’s script?

By Steve Brawner, © 2019 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

July 4, 2019

Goodness knows it’s early, and things change quickly and often, but at the moment the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is looking a lot like the one in 2008.

In both elections, the White House has been occupied by a Republican president first elected despite losing the popular vote – first President George W. Bush and then President Trump. (One big difference: Trump is an incumbent up for re-election, while the office was open in 2008 at the end of Bush’s second term.)

Both elections have started with a presumed Democratic frontrunner with experience, high name identification and a close relationship with the last Democratic administration. That’s Hillary Clinton in 2008 and Joe Biden in 2020.

Both of those candidates have brought significant baggage to the campaigns. Clinton had all of the problems from her and her husband’s time in the White House and in Little Rock, as well as her supposed “likability” problem. “Likability” isn’t an issue for Biden. Instead, it’s a long record of gaffes, his sometimes uncomfortable handsy-ness, and his lack of success in previous presidential campaigns. Plus, he would be 77 years old when he takes office. Some people would say that’s too old. Continue reading Will 2020 follow 2008’s script?

Levees – time for foresight with the benefit of hindsight

By Steve Brawner, © 2019 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

July 2, 2019

Hindsight is 20-20, and in hindsight what happened last Thursday probably should have happened sooner.

But hindsight is only useful as a learning tool, so now it’s time for its more valuable cousin, foresight.

On June 27, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he was creating the Arkansas Levee Task Force to recommend how to maintain and strengthen the state’s levees. Because the levees have been weakened by the recent historic flooding, the task force will have a short timeline to complete its report by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the governor said he will seek quick (and certain) legislative approval to spend $10 million on immediate repairs, particularly for the Holla Bend Levee in Yell County, which dramatically breached, and the Lollie Levee in Faulkner County, which hung on by a thread.

Continue reading Levees – time for foresight with the benefit of hindsight