By Steve Brawner
© 2014 by Steve Brawner Communications
It’s still a tossup as to who will be the next governor, but we know who it won’t be: neither Frank Gilbert nor Josh Drake, the Libertarian and Green Party nominees.
Gilbert, the Libertarian, and Drake also know neither of them will be the next governor – not in a system dominated by Republicans and Democrats. Nevertheless, they’ve put their names on the ballot.
Here’s the shorthand for what their parties stand for. Greens are pro-environment and pro-government health care. Libertarians are for less government in both economic and social issues.
Drake and Gilbert presented their cases during an Arkansas Press Association debate July 11 – and, by the way, kudos to the APA for giving them that opportunity. Here’s what they said …
About same sex marriage. Drake, the Green Party candidate, said the Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law, regardless of what the majority says. Gilbert said government should stay out of the marriage-defining business, adding that he was offended that his wedding preacher said he performed the ceremony by the authority vested in him by the state of Tennessee. The government had nothing to do with his marriage, he said.
About the “private option,” the state program that uses Obamacare dollars to buy private insurance for lower-income Arkansans. Gilbert, the Libertarian, opposes it “unequivocally” and criticized the legislative Republicans who made it possible. Arkansas should not be involved in a coalition with the debt-ridden federal government to make possible this “terrible idea tacked onto a disgusting idea,” he said. Drake said other civilized countries offer universal health care, and so should the United States. Absent that, he said it’s “absolutely lunacy” to consider turning down those federal dollars when many Arkansas hospitals are struggling.
About Arkansas’ bursting-at-the-seams prisons and jails. Gilbert said too many people are being arrested and incarcerated and said his first step as governor would be to “pardon every nonviolent drug offender in the state of Arkansas.” Drake said the war on drugs has been lost and that it’s time to consider if some people in prison really ought to be there.
About C&H Hog Farms, the industrial-sized farm that has prompted concerns about potential contamination of the nearby Buffalo River. Drake, the Green Party candidate, said such an operation should not be located near a watershed and that the state must protect its water supply and its tourist attractions. Gilbert said he didn’t trust bureaucrats to protect the environment and that water use disputes should be handled through the court system.
About the lottery being under closer control of the governor. Drake expressed doubts about giving the governor too much power and said he’s “not a big fan of the lottery” or of gambling in general. Gilbert said the lottery should be managed by private individuals rather than bureaucrats. Given the opportunity, he would end the lottery.
About taxes. Gilbert would eliminate personal and corporate income taxes as quickly as possible. Doing away with the costs of corporate welfare would make it easier, he said. Drake said taxes on the wealthy should be increased so the sales tax on food can be ended and other sales taxes lowered.
In his closing argument, Drake said third party candidates should be included in more debates and given more attention by the media. Having more political parties would be good for the press, he said, because contested races create more intellectually stimulating campaigns, which attract readers and viewers. He didn’t say it, but viable third party and independent candidates, given a chance to compete, might attract enough support that they could buy ads, too.
Gilbert cracked up the audience in his closing remarks by saying, “I encourage you to look around yourself and see if you think there’s a whole lot that the Libertarians can make worse, and that there might not be a thing or two that the Libertarians could make better. Pick up your dice, throw them, and if it comes up snake eyes, vote Libertarian.”
By the way, also participating in the APA debate were the two major party candidates – Asa what’s-his-name and Mike somebody.