Arkansas Politics & Government: Do the People Rule?

By Diane D. Blair | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
Continuity and Change in Arkansas Politics

Arkansas history has been the scene of a constant struggle between the forces of modernization and those of tradition.

Michael Dougan, 1986

Arkansas is a state poised on the edge of success -- or failure.

Almanac of American Politics, 1986

At the ripe old age of 150 years, we stand at the crossroads.

Governor Bill Clinton, 1986

Summarizing Arkansas politics is, as Abraham Lincoln once said of running a democracy, about as easy as shoveling fleas. For every generalization, there are obvious exceptions. Every characterization must be qualified and every label must be modified.

The 1968 election in which Arkansas voters simultaneously selected George Wallace for president, J. W. Fulbright for senator, and Winthrop Rockefeller for governor is the most frequently cited anomaly, but there are countless others. How could a state that so routinely ratified Orval Faubus's leadership as late as 1966, reject him in 1970 for Dale Bumpers, who bluntly told voters that segregation was morally wrong? Why would the same voters who enthusiastically embraced Ronald Reagan's presidential candidacy in 1984 simultaneously reject all of the Arkansas candidates for whom he personally campaigned? Why did Arkansas voters repeatedly during one recent decade signal their desire for a new constitution but

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