On top of their game 

On top of their game

Honesty, courage and good sense are things you like to see in your elected officials, and don't always. Last week, two Arkansas lawmakers — one federal, one state — demonstrated these admirable qualities. Both are people we've sometimes criticized fairly harshly. That they have their noble moments too buttresses one's faith in democratic government.

There's a noisy bunch, ideologues and elitists, who don't like to see democracy work. They believe that great public issues should be decided by privileged minorities — people of a preferred race, sex, and income level — not the elected representatives of the public at large. They favor restrictions on the people's right to elect their own leaders; they promote term limits to assure that popular and capable lawmakers can't stay around long enough to give self-government a good name.

It was this reactionary group that demanded that Sen. Blanche Lincoln vote to keep health-care reform from being debated in the U.S. Senate, a vote that would have killed this crucial legislation before it could be considered by a majority of the senators. The obstructionists threatened to use the vast financial and media resources of the Republican Party against Lincoln in next year's election unless she submitted.

Under pressure from the other, pro-democracy, side too, Lincoln demonstrated a high degree of grace:

“Although I don't agree with everything in this bill, I have concluded that I believe it is more important that we begin this debate to improve our nation's health-care system for all Americans rather than just simply drop the issue and walk away. That is not what people sent us here to do.” The threats against her are being carried out, the Little Rock edition of the Republican National Committee newsletter screaming for her head.

Lincoln opposes the Senate bill's provision for a government health-insurance program that would compete with avaricious private insurers. She's wrong about this, and we'll have the opportunity to say so again before the debate is over. There would have been no such opportunity if she hadn't supported majority rule. The politicians clamoring to run against her next year would have voted the other way, given the chance. That's worth remembering.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Randy Laverty of Jasper boldly went where almost no Arkansas legislator has gone before, daring to suggest publicly that possession of marijuana be decriminalized, as a way to slow the growth in the prison population, and to say flatly that use of marijuana for medicinal purposes should not be punished. His ideas are sensible and humane, and quite possibly more popular with voters than most legislators believe. As with health-care reform, it's time for the debate on drug reform to begin.







Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Watch the trailer for 'Shelter,' the Renaud Bros. new doc on homeless kids in New Orleans

    Check out the trailer for "Shelter," the Renaud Bros. new feature-length documentary about homeless teens navigating life on the streets of New Orleans with the help of Covenant House, the longstanding French Quarter shelter for homeless kids.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • What? That was all made up? Oh my. Well, let's hope he gets busy on…

    • on January 22, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Pssst - Lyons plans to pen a column on why the donors stopped giving to…

    • on January 22, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • The funniest thing about all this is that Lyons never said that Russia invaded anyone…

    • on January 22, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation