Representative Barbara Nix is one of my favorite members of the state legislature. Why? Because she gets results for one. But as a pleasant bonus, she is showing her constituents and people around the state what progressive representation can do for them. Republicans have done a great job painting progressives as east or west coast freaks that can’t relate to ordinary Arkansans, and conservative Democrats have never once chastised them and even join in with them from time to time. And what do those conservative Democrats accomplish for their constituents in their tenure? Nothing, unless you’re a big bank, a developer, a health insurance company, or Wal-Mart. Seriously, point to one major accomplishment of any right wing Democrat in this state. For that matter, point to the accomplishment of any Republican.
Barbara Nix is showing that progressives are different. And not only is she getting results, she’s doing work that benefits people that have always been encouraged to think that progressives don’t represent their interests. Nix has consistently advocated for the interests of working people, saying when she first ran that she was doing so to “give a voice to the common people, the everyday working people.” Conservative Democrats and Republicans always say that but again and again their policy prescriptions benefit the wealthy and big business. Nix though is showing working people that she cares about them and that progressive policies benefit them. Take her bill that she wrote to guarantee the safe transport of railroad workers, blue collar people who conservatives target on the social issues but then leave high and dry when it comes to representing their needs and interests. Barbara Nix stood up for them and delivered, and there are a lot of working families who will benefit from her efforts.
And remember, according to the narrative established by the right wing, progressives are supposed to be soft on crime. That’s not true, and the members of the Benton Fraternal Order of Police showed that much when they endorsed Representative Nix in her bid for public office. And they aren’t the only ones who have seen the hard work that Nix has put into making her community safe. Mothers Against Drunk Driving recognized her as one of several “Community Champions” last year for her efforts to combat drunk driving.
This is why we need progressives at every level of government, from city councils on up through state legislatures and statewide offices to Congress and the Presidency. Imagine if every member of the state legislature was as productive, concerned, and forward thinking as Nix. Can you picture what kind of a state Arkansas could be?
It’s like Governor Beebe said a little while back. Democrats that get results will weather a tough year. I suspect Nix will be one of them. And progressives like her who get results will do themselves, and the rest of us, a world of good. Remember, Nix is weathering the storm in Saline County, which seems to be ground zero for Arkansas teabagger craziness. (Remember how the U.N. wanted to destroy America by building the Fairplex in Benton?) If she wins reelection, and she seems to be running strong, then it’s a sign that progressives can run and win everywhere in this state and that other Democrats have every reason to be as courageous and productive as she is.