Vote for ... Congress

To oppose, as an opposition must

It's been said that during the American Revolution, folks back East took to the streets shouting God Save Congress! It's been a while since we've heard that one. Or since anybody has heard that one. These days, Congress has a disapproval that would shock folks back in 1776.

Flash forward to 2016: It appears more and more likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected president, even if she doesn't get a majority of the vote. The Clintons know about getting to the White House with a plurality. They've done it twice already. And with the Trump campaign imploding, as you knew it would, and third- and fourth-party candidates getting not insignificant percentages in the polls, Mrs. Clinton could get, say, 45 percent of the vote, 35-40 states and a Electoral College landslide. And that scenario gets more likely with every tweet.

Somebody said that that would mean the Democrats--and liberal Democrats at that, for are there conservative Demo-crats any longer?--will hold the White House and the judiciary. That is, two of the three branches of government.

But not so fast. The president can't appoint judges without congressional approval, specifically without the advice and consent of the United States Senate. The Constitution was written to prevent a president from running roughshod. Thus the checks and balances.

And the next president, no matter who it turns out to be, will need checks and balances. A lot of checks and balances. The more checks and balances, the better. Consider this an endorsement for . . . Congress.

In every healthy democracy, there is an opposition. And the duty of the opposition is to oppose. ("Mr. Churchill, must you fall asleep when I'm talking?" Answer: "No, it's purely voluntary.")

This year, it's important that the Republicans hold Congress. To check, and balance, anything that a third President Clinton administration would try to push through. Or even, if this campaign gets any more bizarre, to keep a President Trump from tearing up all those free trade agreements or abandoning military alliances or throwing political opponents in jail.

Arkansas has a U.S. Senate race this year, with Sen. John Boozman facing a tough opponent running a pretty darned good campaign. Conner Eldridge is a former businessman and U.S. attorney. He's a young up-and-comer who'll be around for a while. And you'll see him on the ballot again, no doubt. (And deservedly so, considering his resume.)

But the Republicans are going to need every vote they can get in the U.S. Senate in the next term, and John Boozman is a reliable one. No matter what the Democrats would tell you in their ads, he's not a time-server. He's on the Ag, Nutrition and Forestry and Veterans Affairs committees, takes a hard line on ISIS and border security, and would be a valuable vote in opposing any expansion of Obamacare, which Hillary Clinton promises to "improve" and expand. John Boozman is one of those rare politicians who, when he speaks, raises the level of public discourse instead of lowering it. In fact, the only time we can remember the man lighting into somebody was when Ted Cruz was, again, trashing his fellow Republicans. But even that chewing out came in a closed-door meeting, and not before the microphones.

According to John Boozman, "nothing short" of a full elimination of Iran's nuclear program should be considered a victory for the United States. And he says he wants to reduce the regulatory burdens that small businesses face. Again, Hillary Clinton promises to increase them.

Arkansas' voters can't do much about what will happen to Senate seats in Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. But they can do a small part on Nov. 8 to save the Senate from becoming a rubber-stamp operation: Re-elect John Boozman.

The House is in better shape, from the Republicans' point of view. But the Democrats can still dream, can't they?

The three Republican congressmen who represent most of central, south, east and west Arkansas have opponents this year. And all three deserve re-election on their own merits.

Rick Crawford of the First District and Bruce Westerman of the Fourth have Libertarian opponents but did not draw a Democrat this year. Unlike French Hill, who has drawn both and a couple of write-ins.

Why the Hon. and honorable French Hill would draw so much opposition is beyond some of us. He's been not just a solid congressman and party man, but an outstanding businessman and public servant for decades. He started a bank. He served as a senior adviser for the first President Bush. He was an assistant secretary of the United States Treasury. And during his first term in Congress, he was a leading critic of the Veterans Administration, which very much needed criticizing. Every time somebody would disclose another long list of problems at the national or local VA, French Hill was leading the charge for changing the system. And change did come. Even if all the problems aren't fixed yet.

But none of the problems will be fixed at the VA without more voices like French Hill's. Let's send him back to keep at it. And at them.

The good news is there is less than a month to go until the election. And every day brings it closer to a close. Not only that, but fall is settling in, and things aren't all bad. Strength.

But things could become all bad, or close to it politically, if one party takes complete control of the U.S. government again. As it did in 2009 when one particular party we could mention pushed through Obamacare without one vote from another particular party. And you can see where that got us.

One candidate for president, the leading one, promises to expand Obamacare, and she just might get to do so if there isn't a loyal opposition in place to keep that from happening.

Arkansas voters can do our part. Vote to keep Congress in reliable Republican hands.

Editorial on 10/16/2016

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