Voter Suppression – Do the Math
Only a few votes are lost when Eureka’s “Powers That Be” favor turning over residences to property managers for tourist rentals rather than rent them out to year-round or lifetime residents.
Only a few votes are lost when wealthy newcomers to Northwest Arkansas follow the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Rex Nelson’s advice and “adopt” a historic house in Eureka to preserve it, while maintaining their voter registration somewhere else.
Only a few votes are lost when no voter registration drives are held to sign up Eureka’s youngest would-be voters and elections lack public debates and published platforms.
Many voters lost interest in local issues when city council meetings were moved from the Western District courtroom (where crowds used to attend and participate) to a storage room in the basement of the courthouse where fewer than 10 members of the public were allowed into the cramped chamber.
Quite a few voters lost interest in voting, or running for city council, when the “Good Ole Boys” began conducting meetings so rudely and filled with such hate that many decent Eurekans began avoiding city government for the same reason they don’t picnic at the beautifully landscaped municipal sewage treatment plant.
Muddying the water
How many pro-Democracy votes are lost when a preacher advises the congregation to do God’s bidding and vote for some Republican? Sure, there’s some old notion about the Separation of Church and State but we don’t vote in a public space, or by mail. Eurekans vote in a church on Passion Play Road. It’s what we’ve become accustomed to so habit convinces us that’s the way it’s supposed to be and the church has a role to play in politics or else we wouldn’t be voting in one.
More votes will be lost when the Republican-owned state legislature’s new voter suppression laws take effect, specifically, the voter ID law. How many people will be turned away because they missed the early deadline for obtaining the state’s new “Real ID” voter’s card?
How many votes will be lost when the Republicans control 2/3s of the 50 state legislatures and can amend the U.S. Constitution without consulting the judicial, congressional or executive branches? They’re only six or seven states short of the Koch brothers and ALEC’s goal to legitimize fascism, aided by more than 400 voter suppression laws passed by GOP states so far this year.
This is what happens when the Democratic Party turns its back on municipal politics. Grass Roots? Politics doesn’t begin at the county courthouse, the state capitol or the White House. It begins down the street at city hall.
Forty years ago, five-term Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.” Forty years later, politics is less local than it used to be and because of that, politics is now more about money and less about people. About 45 years ago, Richard Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell made his last public statement before entering prison. “This country is going so far to the right that you won’t even recognize it…” Because the Democratic Party continues to ignore O’Neill’s revelation, Mitchell’s prophecy has come true in Arkansas.
Eurekans are fortunate to have a local newspaper, the Eureka Springs Independent, that still reports on city issues, partly because the owner/operators live here and are personally affected by those who win seats on Eureka’s city council.
Your money or your life?
For most Americans, politics has been downgraded to that stuff about Washington on television news shows. Unlike Eureka’s local newspaper, the purpose of television news shows is not to present the news, it’s to rake in as much money as possible. TV news is a privately-owned, for-profit industry, not a public service. They are not here to inform voters about issues and candidates, they are in the business of selling audiences to advertisers. To attract the largest possible audience the shows pander to the lowest, common desires of their viewers. Crime, scandals, sex, violence and Jewish space lasers have taken serious consideration of public, or local, issues off the menu.
Our focus is now directed at the top of the political pyramid, not on the grassroots level where we live. Locally, we used to discuss local political plans and priorities, now television and the Democratic Party want us to skip over our own backyard and focus on what’s happening in Washington, Little Rock and Berryville where millions of dollars are raised and spent to grease the Democratic and Republican parties.
It is understandable that stakeholders in the city’s tourist industry want to retain political control of Eureka Springs. The bankers, Realtors and insurers want to continue ignoring the needs and rights of Eureka by repeating their Big Lie, “Eureka Springs is a tourist town.” Actually, Eureka Springs is a hometown to a lot of creative people and loving families who want their fair share of the city’s limited resources. At present, the city’s priorities are way out of balance.
The game is rigged
Eureka’s government is now run as a one-party pseudo-democracy. The De Facto Business Party has called the shots here for decades. If the Democratic Party of Carroll County won’t help us overthrow those Trump wanna-bes, then it up to us to form our own party, the Home Party.
With a platform gleaned from desires expressed at neighborhood meetings, a voter registration drive aimed at young people and coordinated research on local issues conducted by knowledgeable volunteers, such a grassroots party could field a slate of at least three candidates and a platform of plans for our community’s future.
There should be more to Eureka Springs’s future than “making it a better place… for the right kind of people.”