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OPINION: Can AR governor thrive in culture of hate?

by Maylon Rice | September 6, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

The nation's youngest chief executive officer, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, should have known now is the hardest time to govern.

As a political operative and living inside the Governor's Mansion compound as a teenager while her father, former Governor Mike Huckabee, with a mostly Arkansas-based staff of loyal advisors ruled the state for a decade, she must have known the hard work of being governor comes after the legislative session.

And add to her personal experience as a campus leader at Central High School and Ouachita Baptist University, at which she excelled, our governor certainly learned enough in the classrooms and hallways of the schools that the hardest part of being a leader is when those who develop, debate, and pass the laws go home.

Maybe that's why she is so ready to give out tax breaks for the very wealthy and try to further dilute the state's Freedom of Information Act with a special session this fall.

But one must wait out the many court challenges to some very bad legislation that a sharp-eyed, charismatic leader like Governor Sanders should have helped tweak, change, or banish from the legislative chambers BEFORE it got passed and now is being arbitrated by the courts.

However one views the role of the governor of this or any state, the leader of the Republican Party of Arkansas, the majority ruling party, where the Arkansas governors have always played an ad hoc role, needed to show more moxie to legislators than the public at large.

But one cannot undo a blundering legislative error, only the courts can.

And it looks like some of Governor Sanders' "high wire" legislation is about to become undone.

One thinks our governor these days should be a bit melancholy about it all.

It is nothing personal to our governor and the way she leads our state with short press blurbs and snappy, biting commentary on the "woke," "far leftist agenda," and such remarks go on and on and on and on.

Surely, she suffers from an incurable affliction and its name is grumpiness. She seems to find strength in hostility and a true joy in that strength. She seems to wear her grumpiness on her face and in her eyes, when standing at a podium and tossing about these time-worn phrases to bait her base with that same grumpiness and fear.

Melancholy in the legislative aftermath, suddenly turns from the legislators who clumsily created these marginal laws infringing upon their previous constitutional cover – which is often the very undoing of these weird, vindictive, and outrageous laws.

Melancholy is the wistful identification of time as a thief, and it is rooted in the memories of past love and success.

When the enthusiastic parade of pitchfork bearers and those hoisting burning torches were rallying against the "woke" or the "far left," it was an exciting pattern of misguided adrenaline-stoked love and success for what had been done.

But the outcome will be one of sorrow and is even more hopeless when the laws are to be protected, no matter how poorly written, by our Attorney General and his staff, who can do little to escape the basic ire of the judiciary on tramping others' constitutional rights in the process.

Sorrow is the sour emotion that pervades these legal challenges from the governor's chair. A sorrow that is nested in the understanding the laws will not get to the level or be enacted as the legislators and governor so craves.

Even today, as U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Brooks has blocked the law requiring an age-verification process before minors could access social media sites.

The law, passed as SB 396 with overwhelming support from Republicans in the Arkansas Legislature during the recent legislative session, was signed by Gov. Sarah Sanders.

That law, in a 50-page brief written by the judge, looks like yet another "show piece" of the Sanders' approved and adopted agenda is failing judicial muster.

An outward sign of such weakness was seen in NWA last week when Attorney General Giffin spoke to Political Animals and stayed far from any firm assurances that his staff would be successful in such legislative challenges in the courts.

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at maylon[email protected]. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Print Headline: Can Gov. Sanders thrive in a culture of hate?


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