Printer Friendly

Here's an idea and a chance for leadership.

Here's An Idea And a Chance For Leadership

I am thinking of a way in which the business community, the political parties, the media, the legal community and various non-profit groups could combine forces to do something good for the state and for democracy.

It never hurts to dream.

Betsey Wright, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, brought up the matter in conversation the other day and said she had already sent a letter to her newly anointed Republican counterparts, Sheffield Nelson and Asa Hutchinson. I have taken her small overture and run with it.

For lack of a better working title, let me suggest the Voter Education Task Force as the name of this proposed joint effort.

As envisioned, it would consist of representatives of the two political parties, the state's leading television stations and the Arkansas Broadcasters Association, the state's leading newspapers and the Arkansas Press Association, the Arkansas Radio Network, the state advertising association, the Arkansas Bar Association, perhaps the Arkansas Educational Television Network, maybe the League of Women Voters and, probably, public relations officials from participating businesses and industries who would agree to help underwrite the effort.

Its mission would be to write, produce and broadcast informational advertising in all media, in optimum locations and at optimum times, to inform voters objectively, comprehensively, nonpartisanly and bipartisanly about the ballot issues that come around every two years.

The point would be to make every effort to assure that as long as we are to have direct democracy in this state, with voters deciding at the ballot box about constitutional amendments and publicly initiated issues, the voters should be given every opportunity to know what in the world it is they are voting on.

You cannot force voters to pay attention. But you can give them every opportunity to pay attention. Never again should the state nearly humiliate itself, as in its narrow passage of the repeal of a segregation amendment, on the basis of voter ignorance. If we are to humiliate ourselves and make a bold statement for resegregation of our society, or something equally backward, then we at least ought to have the satisfaction of doing it on purpose.

The idea is that:

-- The political parties would at least participate in the Voter Education Task Force and maybe even give some money to the effort.

-- A coalition of advertising executives would agree to produce the print and broadcast advertising, perhaps through the Arkansas Educational Television Network.

-- The television and radio stations and newspapers would agree to provide time and space -- in prime time on television, since that is the dominant medium -- at discounted rates or even at cost.

-- The Arkansas Bar Association would appoint a committee of lawyers without vested interests in issues on the ballot to provide the objective reports on what the amendments and acts on the ballot would provide.

-- Participating business and industry -- you always think of Arkla, AP and L and Southwestern Bell, but all civic-minded business and industry would be welcomed -- would donate money to underwrite the effort.

--A non-partisan, non-profit, civic-minded association would co-ordinate the effort. Maybe the League of Women Voters. Maybe the Arkansas Community Foundation. Maybe the Arkansas Business Council, a.k.a., the Good Suit Club. Maybe someone I haven't thought of. But detachment and objectivity would be required.

Yes, this could be a mine field, wrought with problems, maybe insurmountable.

Who has the unassailable credibility and objectivity to win the assignment of narrating these informational advertisements? I fear that I, for example, would meet with strenuous objection. I am thinking of my friend Steve Barnes, but surely someone doesn't like or respect him and I worry whether Channels 7 and 11 would want to put him on their stations.

Political controversy may render all of this physically unattainable. For example:

-- We'll have a lottery amendment sooner or later. It will be difficult for anyone to provide an explanation of it that would be above reproach or question, considering the emotionalism.

-- We'll have a usury amendment again someday, and it likely will be complex and subject to interpretation. A group underwritten by business would be hard-pressed to escape J. Bill Becker's wrath if it endeavored to objectively assess the provisions of such a proposal.

That reminds me: We certainly should include organized labor in this coalition.

That I didn't mention Becker's group earlier probably offends him, which is symptomatic of the political eggshells that must be walked upon in such an endeavor. I am tempted to go back and put him in the first paragraph, but it's better to leave him here to make the point.

One answer might be to supplement the informational advertising with televised debates on the issues in prime time or near it -- surely we could let Wheel of Fortune slide one evening every two years -- in which competing sides could have their say. Yes, that means John Norman Warnock would have had a televised forum on the segregation amendment, but he has as much right to be heard as anyone.

It may be impossible. But there is no harm in trying. It would be a noble and worthy challenge for the state's civic and political leadership. We have a couple of years to work on it. To make the effort would be a nice New Year's resolution for all the afore-mentioned organizations.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Brumett & Business; suggestion on how to go about educating the voter
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Dec 31, 1990
Words:891
Previous Article:Office market shuffle; occupancy rates slowly improve, but lease rates are still lagging.
Next Article:Boom or bust.
Topics:


Related Articles
YOU CAN CALL ALL THE SHOTS.
MODERATES RAISE CHALLENGE TO STATE GOP LEADERSHIP.
CHARTER GROUPS LOOK AT CRAFTING ONE PLAN.
EDITORIAL : BIGGER, BETTER?; EXPANSION OF L.A. COUNCIL IS RIPE FOR DEBATE.
HUFFINGTON HAS DEFINING LESSON FOR GOP POLS.
EDITORIAL : WRONG TURN A COUNCILMAN'S PROPOSAL TO COMBINE ELECTIONS HAS SERIOUS PROBLEMS AND SHOULD BE DROPPED.
EDITORIAL COUNCIL BETRAYS VOTERS : L.A. LAWMAKERS WANT THEIR OWN WAY WITH YOUR MONEY.
IS IT HOPELESS FOR DOLE? : NO. BUT HERE'S THE REAL QUESTION: IS WHO'S AHEAD IN THE SPRING AND SUMMER A GOOD PREDICTOR OF WHO'S GOING TO WIN IN THE...
EDITORIAL KIDDING AROUND? LEGISLATIVE NONSENSE UNDERMINES THE SYSTEM'S CREDIBILITY.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters