Monday, March 20, 2017
Once in a while, when you least expect it, a politician will tell the truth with the bark off. He might not mean to, exactly. But as they say, the truth will out. It happened just the other day in the state House of Representatives' education committee.
The committee was discussing a bill that would allow Arkansas school elections during primary elections, or on election day itself. Which always sounded like a good idea. The state has been mulling this over for years.
Why does the state have a history of allowing schools to hold elections in, say, September of all months? Answer: The better to allow the establishment to steer the election its way. Some school boards, superintendents and teachers' unions enjoy having elections when elections aren't on the public's mind. All the better to get their people to the polls, and overwhelm any resistence to their ideas, or their candidates.
Oh, it's been a long-standing practice, and not just in Arkansas. If the education bureaucracy can keep turnout low, but still make sure its own people get to the polls, then it has a better chance of keeping the mere voter from making things too difficult. Why should We the People stick our noses into Education's business? Just because we pay taxes? Why, the powers that have always been will take care of the schools, thank you, and the voters need to quit making pests of themselves.
That was the thinking. Until the last few years when lawmakers started making changes, step by step.
The latest change would be House Bill 1621 by Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle and Real Reform). That's the bill that would put school elections on election days when voters are paying attention.
In the last paragraph of the story about HB1621, one of its opponents, Rep. John Walker of Little Rock, put it plain, finally: He said he opposed the bill because a majority of voters could overwhelm the minority of people interested in education.
The truth will out! At last, the rest of us have it on record. The education interests would rather not be bothered with We the People getting in the way when it comes to school elections.
Is this the same Rep. John Walker who can be counted on to scream bloody voter suppression whenever anybody discusses requiring identification at the polls? It appears indubitably so.
Minority rights are to be protected in our republic, and that is a key reason we have a constitution. But we should not suppress the turnout on election days to favor anybody. That would thwart the very idea of our democracy where the majority rules.
But some are all for keeping school elections on the down-low.
Thankfully, the people are beginning to see through the fog. It especially helps when somebody like John Walker puts it plain. For that, we thank him.
Editorial on 03/20/2017
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