Columns » John Brummett

From Springdale to Pluto

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In a way, this follows up that column the other day about how everything changes.

There are limitations. Change normally occurs incrementally. To use a verb that Jim Holt eschews, it evolves.

If the Springdale area were to replace Holt with that nice Democratic woman, Lynn Donald Carver, as its state senator this November, that would be like a monkey becoming a man in a split second, without any Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal transition.
It would be like driving along a road on Earth and crossing an intersection to find yourself suddenly tooling down an avenue on Pluto.

It would be like Springdale’s gargantuan First Baptist Church going Unitarian between hymns. Or like Jim Bob Duggar getting a vasectomy. Or like me knowing when to stop.

To contrast these individuals — Mr. Holt and Mrs. Carver — is to uncover a basic but massive divide.

Holt’s brand of extreme conservatism opposes governmental or community solutions in favor of impracticalities based on his own religion. He votes against nearly everything at the Capitol, including reasonable increases in taxes to oblige a court order on schools or even the slightest state oversight of local school districts although the courts have plainly said the state Constitution mandates as much.

If all legislators were like him, we’d have anarchy.
Carver, a nurse, political science graduate and mother, has distinguished herself for community-based solutions and a commitment to government’s responsibility to do better by our children. She founded a community organization providing services to and for disabled children. She and her husband, a cardiologist, led the capital campaign for her Methodist church. She’s on the boards of the Arts Center and the United Way.

The first I ever heard of her was when state Sen. Jim Argue, mildly downcast in 2002 that few people had attended education reform public meetings around the state, told me he’d taken heart that a woman from Springdale had come all the way to Little Rock to attend one.

I checked into that and thereby discovered Lynn Donald Carver. She’d been on her way to Memphis with her daughter so her daughter could get a prom dress. But she hadn’t wanted to miss one of these sessions on school reform. So, she made a deal with her daughter: I’ll take you to Memphis for the dress, but only if you’ll oblige my stopping along the way to go to a public meeting on education.
What I remember from my call to her was that she couldn’t quite understand what the big deal was about a citizen showing an interest in better schools.

This is what I’m trying to say: Holt is a religious zealot. Carver is a community do-gooder.

Now Holt will abandon this Senate seat to run for lieutenant governor and attempt to put Arkansas within one heartbeat of anarchy. Carver has announced her Democratic candidacy to succeed him.

If this were Fayetteville, Carver would be a better bet than Duke or Connecticut. But this is the other half of Washington County, the Springdale of Holt and Duggar and Ronnie Floyd. It’s Republican-plus. Mike Huckabee is too liberal for these guys. Some days George W. is.

No one can apply traditional political logic and give Carver a chance against any Republican.

What does she say to that? Just this: “Honestly, I don’t know if I can win, but I’m going to give it one heck of a try.”

You have to admire the spirit. If it’s true that anything is possible, then we should leave open the prospect that the state Senate will replace Jim Holt, R-Springdale, with Lynn Donald Carver, D-Pluto.

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