In 2010 the GOP won one of the greatest turn-a-rounds in election history when they regained control of the House.  In 2014 the GOP took back the reins of the Senate from the Democrats as frustrated voters began to turn on the Democrats machine.  The string of Republican victories was capped by Trump’s election in 2016 as the GOP cemented their hold on both the House and Senate.  This was followed by voters across the country sending the Democrats’ agenda and their representatives to defeat in a series of 5 special elections.  The latest surprise was the Governor of West Virginia, a Democrat, showing up at a Trump rally in his state last week and switching over to become a Republican!  He must have read one of my earlier columns because he said, “He didn’t leave the Democrats – They left Him!”  Victory is Sweet – or is it?

     Now that the GOP holds the leadership we see a number of rising stars in Congress including our own Tom Cotton, John Boozman, Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman.  However, we appear to lack strong leadership in both Houses where we see a lack of unity on the GOP side. This increases the difficulty in governing the country because the Democrats are determined to block anything that President Trump attempts to accomplish. They lack any kind of positive agenda and their leadership, if any, argues about which bathroom to use while hiding in safe rooms while their party acts just as obstinate and uncooperative as their icon, the Jackass!

     The good news is that we do have strong Republican leaders in our own state and many were present at the dinner hosted by the Cleburne County Republican Committee and their Chairwoman, Julie Fell.  The dinner was held last Thursday evening at our Community Center in Heber Springs.  Lt. Governor Tim Griffin was the keynote speaker and he pointed out the positive trend over the past few years which has swelled the ranks of the GOP in both Little Rock and in Washington.  With victory comes a rising expectation for change and it is easy to understand why Republicans are impatient for faster results out of DC.  However, as Mr. Griffin pointed out, we shouldn’t get discouraged.  We need to stay focused on the long haul and continue to push our agenda.  He made an excellent point when he noted that with the growing Republican numbers come a greater number of representatives with varying points of view.  Since we aren’t marching in lock step like the Democrats, it sometimes makes it difficult to gain unity in all matters. There has been notable progress and it will continue. 

     My reaction to what Griffin said was to want to see an even larger majority of Republicans in office so we won’t be held back by a few misguided members of our own party.  The GOP needs to focus its efforts on the other states to accomplish that objective.  Here in Arkansas, we have our act together with almost 2/3’s of the vote for Trump, all of our congressional seats and 3/4’s of our state representatives filled by members of the Republican Party.  Trump was the victor in over 90% of the counties in Arkansas! That alone is a highly positive achievement. 

     Mr. Griffin also noted that the GOP’s stated goals are to create more and better paying jobs, modify the tax code in order to encourage the growth of business and to reduce both spending and taxes.  He compared that with the Democrats who have historically favored tax increases so as to enable more spending.  Griffin said the GOP emphasis was on removing some of the unnecessary government restrictions which had been imposed on small business during the Obama administration and which has held back their growth.  As the largest employers in the state and country we need small businesses to expand and prosper.  He closed by providing his phone number to the audience to allow them to offer suggestions on how to improve the GOP’s representation from the bottom up.

     That’s great for Arkansas but, what about Washington DC?  One of the country’s biggest frustrations has been the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  It was created in secret and foisted on the American public by the Democrats back when they controlled Congress under Obama’s 1st term.  Pelosi did Obama’s bidding by urging the Democrats to vote it in first and read it later.  Unfortunately, like lemmings, they did exactly that and took the nation over the cliff with them.  It’s no surprise that it’s been coming apart ever since. Think about what the Democrats did!  How many contracts would You sign first and read later?  Only a fool or someone getting a kickback would do it!  It has to be fixed and it remains on the GOP ‘To Do’ list.  Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have the responsibility to correct the Democrat’s mistake and if they can’t do it we may have to replace them.

     A large part of Trump’s workload is repairing and correcting the Democrat’s mistakes while they held the office.  Immigration, ISIS, Tax Reform, V.A. Healthcare mess, North Korea, the ransom money to Iran, Our uranium to Russia etc.  If you want it fixed – Send More Republicans to Washington and Don’t let a Democrat ever touch another contract!    

End of rant.  Have a blessed day.

Mike Bertalot is a Quitman resident and contributes 'With a Grain of Salt' biweekly to The Sun Times.  He can be reached at