Friday, April 07, 2006

A Pox on Both Houses

The Home Office has never shied away from trashing Republicans, with good reason. While my politics are somewhat left of center on balance, I’m not dumb enough to think the GOP owns the franchise on unfair, partisan behavior. A recent example right here in the People’s Republic of Maryland gives me a chance to balance out the scorecard a little.

The Maryland General Assembly approved changes to the state election laws last week, after a conference committee consisting of only Democrats rewrote much of the bill. The most controversial component has to do with extending the voting period to several days, all in the name of higher voter turnout. Not every polling place has to be open for days at a time; the twenty-one specified in the law are in predominantly Democratic districts. Coincidence seems not to be a reasonable explanation.

This level of partisanship threatens the fabric of American democracy, and it’s not getting any better. Everyone’s excuse is that the other guys do it: Maryland Dems may consider this a form of payback for the flagrant gerrymandering undertaken by Texas Republicans a few years ago. All it will do is make it easier for Republicans to justify the next round of tit-for-tat. No one will ever win.

Republicans claim the Democratic maneuver is a blatant attempt to prevent the re-election of Governor Robert Ehrlich, and retain the Senate seat of retiring liberal stalwart Paul Sarbanes. Seems a reasonable argument. Democrats have considered Maryland a one-party state for as long as anyone can remember, so it’s likely they felt cheated when Ehrlich defeated then-Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002. Symptomatic of political failings on both sides of any aisle, it never occurred to them that Townsend’s defeat was primarily a referendum on the ignominious failure of the Parris Glendenning regime. Townsend was considered a rising star in Democratic circles, based largely on the “Kennedy” sandwiched into her name. Maryland isn’t Massachusetts; people here actually expect a Kennedy to do more than just be one.

Ehrlich deserves to be sent packing; less certain is either Democratic challenger’s ability to do the job. The General Assembly’s effort to stack the deck forces one of two conclusions: either the Assembly doesn’t think voters are smart enough to know that Ehrlich has to go, or they don’t think Doug Duncan or Martin O’Malley can take him down. Doesn’t say much for their confidence in either scenario, does it?

I have somehow wound up on the local Democratic phone and mailing lists. First came the plea for contributions. I told the caller I blamed Democrats as much as Republicans for the current situation, and wouldn’t give them any money until they provided me with a candidate’s name and some policies. She didn’t even try to argue with me.

Last month I received surveys two weeks in a row, one from my State Senator, and one from the party, wanting to know what I thought about issues of the day. What I want to know is what they think about the issues of the day; specifically, what do they plan to do about them? Don’t get my opinions so you can parrot them back to me in a few months like they were your idea in the first place, asking for my vote and my money because we think so much alike.

I stumbled onto a website full of quotes from Winston Churchill today. One of my favorites was, “I have never accepted what many people have kindly said-namely, that I inspired the nation. . . . It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion's heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.” Compare that to what passes for leadership today, our “leaders” asking us what they should believe during the few moments each day they’re not on their backs whoring for more money. That’s why we should all cringe when the bad guy du jour is compared to Hitler. Churchill’s dead; if Hitler were alive today, he’d win.

1 comment:

2nd Amendment Correspondent said...

Well, what do you expect from a "regime" as corrupt as the communist state of Maryland. After all this is the state where the Montgomery County Council had a member who advocated giving illegal aliens the right to vote in County elections so they would see the benefits of becoming citizens. Anyone remember when Schaefer was in office? Remember the state police raid on the campaign headquarters of his challenger the night before the election? Can't say much surprises me from over the river.