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 Robert S Moore Jr
“If ya liked his granpappy yah’l love him”

We have already seen the role of the oligarchy in the office of President of the United States.  27 of the 43 holders of that office are related to one another by blood, marriage or adoption.  We have seen how the noble families of the Senate crowd out opposition in their home states.  We looked at the Udalls in Utah, the Kennedies in Massachusetts, the Frelinghuysens in New Jersey, and the Bushes seemingly everywhere.

But, if there is truly an oligarchical element to American Politics we should see this right down to the state legislature level too.  But where to look?  Cities might be special simply by definition, and their politics unrepresentative.  What about somewhere, well, somewhere less well visited, more down home, more rural, some more “real” America perhaps than sprawling Tinsel Towns and large fruit themed conurbations.

Arkansas perhaps.

Now, one of my correspondents, who claims that there is nowhere in God’s Green Earth, quite as wonderful as the Ozarks, has sent me a most interesting piece from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette of 16th January.  The Arkansas Democrat Gazette has a special interest in genealogies it seems, I noted Meredith Oakley’s excellent piece  “Everyone is related” from Friday 15 October 2010 (page 6B).

Here, Sarah D Wire shows she has a deep interest in Arkansas political families, and in “Politics in blood for some in state: serving Arkansas is family tradition” on 16th January 2011, she leads the reader through the oligarchies that infest her state’s politics.

Somehow I doubt this tale is unique to Arkansas.

Sarah starts by telling us that at least a dozen state lawmakers have family who either served before them or who sit beside them now.  She cites, just as starters, the Pryors and the Hutchisons.

In the state legislature, Representative Robert S Moore Jr., D-Arkansas City, sits where his grand pappy sat.

The Senate President Pro Tempore, Paul Bookout’s father, Senator Jerry Brookout, was also Senate President Pro Tempore way, way back in …um 1991-1992!  Both have served together.

Six directly related legislators are serving in the 88th General Assembly.  I wonder if that is a record?

Then Sarah tells us about Donna Hutchison who was married to United States Senator Tim Hutchison, and whose twin sons served in the state House of Representatives.  Timbo was also nephew of United States Representative Asa Hutchison.

Ms Wire goes on to note for us that the practice of keeping it in the family has a long tradition out here and goes way back beyond statehood.

Tom DeBlack  history professor of Arkansas Tech University is quoted as saying that “the Conway, Rector, Servier and Johnson families won positions such as Governor, US Senator, and federal Judge in the state’s first election.  They were known as ‘The family’ and were [like the Presidents] related by blood and marriage”.

A true sign that the system is oligarchical in nature, is that these original families can be deposed only for other oligarchical families to fill their places, such as the Jeffresses brothers, Senators Jene and Jimmy Jeffress who together have worked the State Senate since 2003 after a spell in the House of Representatives since 1999.

Related candidates seem to be a thing in Arkansas, David and Stephen Meeks sit together in the House of Representatives.

A fascinating article.  In future posts I will see if it is as true in other states.

Copyright David Macadam 2011

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