Reflections on Arkansans' perception of government and electoral politics were a major component of Governor Mike Beebe's radio address this week. Beebe's statements come in what he calls his last year in politics. He cautioned insincere and divisive rhetoric is harming the relationship between citizens and government.
“Increasingly strident ideologies and political gridlock have only compounded cynicism toward government. This is especially true on the federal level, where members of Congress seem to bicker more and more while accomplishing less and less with each passing year,” said Beebe.
The Governor noted other forces as harmful to the relationship between citizens and government. He alluded to Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr who has been fined for 11 separate ethics violations and is facing ongoing inquiries into the misuse of campaign and state funds, as well as former State Treasurer Martha Shoffner and former state Senator Paul Bookout.
“On the State level, we've just finished a year featuring three high-profile cases of State officials misusing taxpayer and/or campaign monies in violation of the public trust. This further erodes our citizens' confidence in government, and can taint the image of other public officials whose actions are ethical and responsible,” said Beebe.
He suggested a combination of these problems and the influence of outside money into electoral politics is harming the public's relationship with government and contributing to low voter turnout rates in elections. He called for an informed and active electorate, saying government provides the best services and policies when an electorate understands the issues and chooses the right people.