Over the course of the past year we have been engaged in a door to door, hand to hand, grassroots campaign effort in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, and throughout Maryland. We refuse to forfeit any votes due to historical voting patterns. Today is a new day, and ideas matter. The simple fact is the City and the County have been governed exclusively by bureaucrats enmeshed in a specific ideology for decades and have few results to show their tax-paying constituents. The bureaucratic neglect suffered by the citizens of these areas is staggering and unacceptable.
That’s a statement from U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, who will be the featured speaker at the “No More Neglect Rally” held just outside Washington D.C. tomorrow. Interestingly enough, one of the other speakers will be the last person who tried to defeat Senator Ben Cardin, that being onetime Lieutenant Governor and, more recently, RNC Chair Michael Steele.
That list of speakers got me to thinking about my recollections of the Steele-Cardin race. To be sure, since 2006 was a state election year (and the first Maryland campaign I was involved with) the U.S. Senate race was sort of an undercard to the effort of Governor Bob Ehrlich to be re-elected. But once Steele decided to step out of Ehrlich’s shadow, the way was paved for him to be the GOP nominee and it was believed that having a black candidate could be the ticket to winning a Republican U.S. Senate seat out of Maryland for the first time since 1980.
But I’m not sure that there wasn’t an assumption that race would trump ideology. Surely the Steele campaign wasn’t foolish enough to believe they would get every minority vote, but in both Baltimore City and Prince George’s County – two heavily minority areas – Steele received less than 1/4 of the vote, and he only outpaced Bob Ehrlich’s performance in those two areas by a few points. Looking at the numbers, one can deduce that, had Steele ran even with Ben Cardin in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, he would have been won a close election because Michael won the rest of the state outright.
However, it should be noted that Ehrlich and Steele did far better in those areas in 2006 than Ehrlich and Wargotz did in 2010, and roughly the same as the Ehrlich/Steele 2002 ticket did. So race apparently did help somewhat.
We know that Ben Cardin will tie his wagon to that of Barack Obama, particularly in minority areas. But Dan Bongino is asking the right question: what has blind loyalty to the Democrat Party done for their communities? Are they better off than they were four years ago? Even more to the point: are they better off than they were fifty years ago?
There’s no doubt that most would answer yes to the latter question, as the rising tide of American economic dominance lifted all the boats to a level where even someone considered poor today is living far better than the middle class of 30 to 40 years ago, insofar as material goods measure success. As far as other aspects of life, though, the jury is still out.
Yet I know Republicans who will swear up and down it’s a waste of time to campaign in minority areas because they’ll never vote for a Republican. No doubt it’s frustrating, but Dan Bongino is investing the time and effort by tailoring the message to hot-button issues which resonate regardless of race, particularly education. And he only needs to gain about 6% of the overall vote to succeed, so if he attracts 30 percent of the vote in Baltimore City and PG County it’s going to be a long night for Ben Cardin because that first loss is always the toughest. One would have to presume that Bongino is outpacing Steele in the rest of the state if he’s at that magic 30% threshold in minority areas.
To be perfectly frank, the fact that Dan Bongino has no record – just rhetoric – could be the reason the Republican establishment has seemed to shy away from his campaign. Several of the top party brass supported his primary opponent, Richard Douglas, in part because he at least had a Senatorial pedigree as a staffer to Senator Jesse Helms. To them, Bongino was a wild-card unknown, and another candidate those who believe they’re in the know dismiss as the “nice guy who doesn’t have a chance because he’s from dark blue Maryland and has no money.” Funny, but they said that about Scott Brown.
I understand the argument that Scott Brown was an outlier – the beneficiary of a special election held at a time when the national focus was on that one race, in a time period where his election meant the difference between a filibuster-proof Democrat majority or simply a 59-41 bulge. I get that. But Dan is doing his best to nationalize the election like Scott Brown did, based on his frequent national television and radio appearances. It’s a ton of free media which maximizes his efforts at getting the word out, and it’s making a difference.
I say all this, though, having no idea whether Dan would be a Scott Brown or a Jim DeMint. In six years I may be at the front of the line calling for a Republican primary opponent for Dan because he turned out to be what I consider a squishy moderate. I’d rather be in that position, though, than hoping we can find a quality opponent to take on the man National Journal has regularly tabbed as the most liberal Senator in a body which has more than its share of would-be patricians. I think the only true friends Ben Cardin has are the ones with checkbooks.
Yet in the meantime those on the wrong side of political assumptions and bureaucratic neglect continue to reliably vote against their best interests. For their trouble they have a president who stabbed them in the back by both denying them educational opportunities and allowing their closest economic competitors – illegal aliens – free rein in this country; meanwhile, their so-called leaders cry racism at the drop of a hat rather than suggest that the best way to prosper isn’t necessarily though athletics, rap music, or crime, but through a method employed by those success stories which are rewarded with the derision of being known as Oreos, Uncle Toms, or simply too white.
Obviously I think that’s completely crazy, but then again I’m just a white guy who grew up in a white-bread middle-class city neighborhood for several years before moving to a rural school district with ONE black student. If I may butcher the dialect and/or date myself, I’ve not been down much with the homeboys. But I am aware that history hasn’t always been kind to them.
On the other hand, it only takes a small percentage of those people who open their eyes and minds to realize that enslavement to one political party is contributing to the enslavement of their population to lives of poverty and fear. Other races don’t play that game, although Latinos are heading in that same direction towards marginalization, to their detriment.
So we should applaud Dan Bongino and the others who are taking the fight to the enemy in such a manner. I hope there’s a thousand at the rally and they each tell ten of their friends – there is an alternative to the same old pandering liberal Democratic politicians out there, so accept nothing less.