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More Success When Focused on Principles Not Personalities 

More Success When Focused on Principles Not Personalities 

A look back at recent history. 

By Conduit for Action 

2012 was the year Republicans became the majority in the Arkansas House of Representatives, but it was just a one seat majority. It seemed success would slip away from Republicans when a handful of Republicans chose power over principles. They made a deal with the Democrats where the Democrat Governor would swing the votes of all Democrat Representatives to elect a nominal Republican as Speaker of the House, who would owe the Democrats big favors. That deal gave Democrats victory over a few important issues such as the adoption of Obamacare Medicaid Expansion. But on many other issues during the 2013 session of the Arkansas General Assembly, the core of Republican House members stayed loyal to the party’s promises to Arkansans. Focused on the Arkansas Republican Principles and Platform, the core of Republican legislators stuck with the promises of the party and made great progress on issues such as taxes. 

The 2014 election was a time to celebrate, as Republicans won the governorship, all the other state executive branch offices, and large majorities in the Arkansas House and Senate. 

But the Republican success at the November 2014 ballot box turned out greater than the success of Republicans in the 2015 Regular Legislative Session of the General Assembly. With Asa Hutchinson becoming the new Republican Governor, many Republican legislators became more interested in pleasing the Governor that in honoring those promises made to voters from the Arkansas Republican Principles and Platform. The legislative focus switched from “What do the Republican Principles and Platform say?” to “What does the Governor want?”

An example of how easily Governor Hutchinson was able to get legislators to turn their backs on their promises was an income tax relief bill repealing taxes on capital gains just passed by the Republican majority in 2013.  The capital gains relief was a big victory in 2013 and was just becoming effective in 2015, when the Republican legislature allowed Governor Hutchinson to talk them into repealing it as a way to partially fund a different “income tax cut” that he wanted.  We all watched as Republican legislators turned their backs on their promises just to please Hutchinson.  

Going back on their capital gains tax relief caused a huge firestorm. Businesses and individuals put great pressure on legislators to honor their 2013 commitment to capital gains tax cuts.  By the end of the legislative session the pressure was so great that capital gains relief was reinstated, but Hutchinson still won a victory by getting a provision inserted to delay the capital gains relief to help fund his preferred legislation. 

The eight years of Governor Asa Hutchinson was marked by celebrated tax cuts that actually included as much or more in tax increases and by Hutchinson’s efforts to defeat or undermine conservative legislation proposed in response to actions taken by the radical left. He was only able to do this because legislators were answering to him instead of Republican principles. 

It was not just the legislature that bowed to Governor Hutchinson. Many in the Republican Party apparatus defined Governor Hutchinson as the “leader of the Republican Party in Arkansas” no matter his agenda/principles.   That made it easy for Hutchinson allies to slip in language in the party platform deleting the ten Republican Principles from the party platform and replace it with gobbledy gook that was so vague it could be interpreted many ways, leaving politicians to interpret it any way they wanted. After the deletion was discovered, it took the Republican grassroots two years to be able to get the platform principles readopted. 

Hutchinson and his aids even tried to silence and control County Committees of the Republican Party. For example, they pressured and threatened county committee members to not allow Hutchinson’s primary challenger, Jan Morgan, speak to the committees. 

Thankfully, the Republican principles and platform have had more victories under Governor Sarah Sanders. Yet the same attitudes about the party being subservient to whoever is the Governor, still exist.  We still hear Republican officials say, “the Republican Party is the Governor’s party”, and many legislators are still more concerned about what a Governor (and lobbyist) want instead of being concerned about the promises made to the people by the Republican Party in its principles and platform.  And, we still have party apparatus officials who try to silence and marginalize County Committees, District Committees, and the conservative grassroots. This is clearly a contributing factor to the stagnation in membership of the Republican party as the “brand” has been severely tarnished by these actions. 

Because an overwhelming majority of officeholders file as Republicans, we will see more conservative policies adopted in the future. But Arkansas would be so much better off if the Governor would hold the legislature accountable for following the Republican principles and platform and if the legislature held the Governor accountable to the same.  Arkansas would be so much better off if the Republican Party of Arkansas would encourage the participation of Arkansans’ who love the same principles as the Republican Party, instead of trying to exclude Tea Party, conservatives,  and Patriot members from county and state committees and stop marginalizing the grass roots conservatives who, after all, do the bulk of the work to promote the party principles. 

The Arkansas Republican Principles and Platform were and still are a big deal. Here are the ten principles that have been restored: 

  1. The power of faith in God Almighty and one’s right to personal prayer and collective worshi
  2. The sanctity of life
  3. Individual responsibility and initiative
  4. Individual freedom and liberty secured by a limited government
  5. Private property
  6. Lower taxes to produce economic growth
  7. Strong national defense
  8. The personal right to own and bear arms
  9. The equal and just enforcement of the law
  10. Separate and independent branches of government 

The Arkansas Republican Platform is also a big deal. Here is a link to the Platform. 

Conduit for Action is not affiliated with the Republican Party, but we know following the Republican Principles and Platform would be good for Arkansas.   

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