Friday, January 3, 2014

An open letter to Lt. Governor Mark Darr

Warning: Political content ahead.

Dear Lt. Governor Darr:

This is written, openly, because honestly I do not expect that you will read it either openly or privately. Really, it is more of a way to make a public statement than it is a letter. The open letter genre, which was big in 2012, took a year off it seems in 2013, but let us go ahead and bring it back.

I am writing first to praise many of the ideals you campaigned on, and many of the ones that you would have run for the United States Senate on. Personally, had you remained in the Senate race, I would have favored you over Congressman Cotton, because his rapid bailing on House District 4 sits poorly with me. I think his run for the Senate will result in a loss for people who think like you and I in both House 4 and the Arkansas Senate, but that should remain for a letter to him.

I want to praise the ideals that you have presented. You ran, partly, as an objector to the boondoggle of the Affordable Care Act. Since the logical result of a law that empowers private businesses to charge whatever they choose alongside requiring me to purchase their products is a massive price hike, my family and I will lose our medical coverage at the end of 2014 because of the ACA. Some would blame it on Blue Cross/Blue Shield, others on the law, but it’s really both. BC/BS is always looking to make more money, and the ACA enables them to charge ridiculous amounts. You were opposed to that, though there was, and is, no stopping it.

I want to praise your commitment to the right to keep and bear arms, and not be treated as a nut for doing so. Your willingness to help safeguard the privacy of firearms owners, rather have us treated like objects of public concern, was a good one.

I want to praise your commitment to our mutual alma mater of Ouachita Baptist University. You did not know me there, nor I you, because you were headed out as I came in, but we both love that place and the ideas of integrity, honesty, and truth that we learned to value there.

I want to praise your stated commitments to smaller government spending, to greater transparency, and more accountability. I want to praise your volunteer work, your public relations work, and other things you have done that are for the good of Arkansas.

It is, however, the honest truth that these shared values and virtues are the reason I want to call on you to step aside from your position as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Arkansas. This is not out of anger or malice, but out of concern for those things which matter the most to us.

I trust you, that you made the errors cited by the Ethics Commission out of ignorance and with no intent to defraud. I trust that you will repay anything left to repay. I know you are a small business owner, and that the difference in how you can use your business account in those cases and how you can use your campaign and office expense accounts may have been obscure.

But the fact is, that does not matter at this point. Right now, you may bow out gracefully and issue a resignation and apology to the people of Arkansas. Right now, you may state clearly that you own, personally, the failure to understand the rules, and that you accept the penalty for it.

Right now, you can pull back from the political limelight and return to work, allowing others to lift up the torch of the ideals and ideas that we value.

Right now, you can enable other small-government, freedom-loving individuals to win statewide office in Arkansas. Right now, you can help us remain a two-party state that tries to represent multiple viewpoints.

Or, you can force the hands of others to remove you from office. Or worse, you can attempt to run in a race that you cannot win, and drag others down with you. You can cause voters to doubt that anyone with an “R” beside their name can be trusted to even know the rules, much less follow them.

I know, it is not fair. The Attorney General can have an affair with opposing counsel, and the Governor supports him. It takes an actual criminal charge to drive the State Treasurer from office after questionable deeds should have done so long before—and who knows if the Governor would have ever allowed the investigation, if not for Legislative pressure on her.

But politics is not about fair. Neither is life.

And I do not want this to really be a political appeal, though you can see the political need to take the hit. You can see that, if we are going to claim to be the trustworthy people in this state, you have to do willingly what others would sue to avoid.

Instead, though, let me make the appeal to you about life. Life is not fair. You have long claimed, and long shown, that you are a big enough man to handle life’s unfairness. You have overcome worse than this, and you have no doubt seen other times where the price of mistakes was the end of hopes. Show us how it can be done with dignity and grace.

It is what you can do, and what you should do.


Doug Hibbard

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