Updated below with a response from Kevin Waterman, who replied on behalf of his mother.
It was President Warren Harding who remarked when asked about the scandal surrounding his tenure, “I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my goddamned friends, they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!” At times I wonder how much sleep Diana Waterman is getting, knowing that her supporters are the ones who seem to be laying the land mines on her path to coronation as elected Maryland Republican Party chair.
Just a few days after Louis Pope fumbled around with his side of the RNC Rules Committee story, another supporter of Diana’s – the venerable two-time gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey – perhaps took a little liberty of her own with her insight on Diana’s work with the state’s Campaign for Liberty effort. Jackie Wellfonder took this and ran with this unforced error yesterday, but there was one important part of the story Jackie did not get to.
In my possession I have a letter from Diana dated March 8 and addressed to me as a Central Committee member. (Actually, the “Central Committee Member” is crossed out and replaced with Michael, a old personalization trick. But I digress.)
In the fifth paragraph of the latter Diana writes:
I am also forming an advisory committee composed of individuals from every corner of the State, many of varied groups within our Party like Campaign for Liberty and the Tea Party groups, and hard-working activists. If we aren’t talking to each other, we can’t work together to realize our goals of getting Republicans elected.
In her campaign appeal, Sauerbrey added:
I share the concern that our party has failed to fully embrace groups like the Tea Party and Campaign for Liberty, that are a source of highly motivated, dedicated, and often young volunteers. Diana has committed to me her intent to establish an Advisory Committee that will welcome and involve the vital energy and ideas of these groups.
So here we are a month later, and Ted Patterson of Campaign for Liberty wrote in his remarks yesterday that:
In an email, it was stated that Waterman is forming a Republican Party advisory committee that will include grassroots organizations such as ours. It is implied that Diana Waterman is welcoming the grassroots and Tea Party groups into the Maryland Republican Party.
No outreach to our groups has been reported to me, and I have received no messages to this effect.
If Ms. Waterman would like to set a future goal of engaging the grassroots that is admirable, but to date no such engagement has occurred.
Okay, I understand that running for Chair – or any other statewide party position, for that matter – is pretty hard work and there are a lot of details involved. But that “interim” tag didn’t stop Waterman from placing Louis Pope on the RNC Rules Committee; moreover, it’s worth pointing out that Diana will be on the Executive Committee regardless of what happens – either as Chair or as First Vice-Chair under Collins Bailey or Greg Kline.
Despite the fact Diana’s continued involvement is all but assured, I’d be willing to bet that this outreach has not yet occurred to any of the many conservative groups out there, whether it be Campaign for Liberty, Conservative Victory PAC, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland. the Maryland Conservative Action Network, various Society of Patriots groups, or any others. (However, I will note that Waterman was in attendance for at least part of the day at Turning the Tides in January, so one could construe that as a little bit of outreach prior to her ascension to Chair.)
My first instinct in writing this piece was to suggest the MDGOP put its money where its mouth is and make a few seats on its Executive Committee available to various groups which apply and can prove sufficient membership and means to show they will be in it for the long haul. (This is in the wake of a proposed bylaws change to give College Republicans and Young Republicans voting status on the Executive Committee.) But I thought better of it because of coordination questions which may come up when the groups spend money on behalf of Republican candidates. So an informal gathering is probably best, along with a sensitive ear to the ground. For example, I haven’t heard in this Chair campaign about overtures we are making to Second Amendment groups – a body of interest to whom insurgent Republicans like Dan Bongino suggested we promote our message heavily.
I think it would have served Diana well to give examples of this outreach rather than just imply it’s going to occur at some unspecified future date in a manner to be named later. The term we tend to give to that is “lip service.” If Maryland Republicans want to motivate their base to victory in 2014, bearing in mind that in gubernatorial years turnout tends to be lower so this effort would be magnified, then we might want to see more outreach done on the state level as opposed to local county efforts.
Update: On behalf of his mother, who is attending the RNC meeting in California, Kevin Waterman “took the liberty” of sharing the following:
Just read your recent blog post about the Campaign for Liberty email.
Just so you know, I’ve actually been working with my mother to connect her to and set up meetings and conversations with organizations and individuals who would be good fits for the proposed advisory committee. Just to cover a few who she’s already reached out to and spoken with there’s been Patrick McGrady as well as Dave Nalle and Dave Kahn (the leaders of the Republican Liberty Caucus at the National and Maryland levels respectively).
She has also reached out to Ted Patterson to clarify and try to rectify the situation. As she noted to him, she had talked to Patrick, who has a lengthy history with C4L and been a leader in it in Harford County, and didn’t mean to imply she’d spoken with all the C4L groups or the national or statewide leader. She also used the opportunity to officially reach out on working together. Ted has responded to that, appreciating the response and the recognition of the group by the state party and that they very much like the idea of working together, they just would have preferred that the statewide leadership have been spoken to before the organization’s name was used in anything.
Just to wanted to clarify that there is work being done on this and it’s not just lip service, real outreach is being done.
Fair enough. Obviously Kevin is well-attuned to state liberty-minded groups given his work with the Gary Johnson campaign (when Johnson was seeking the GOP Presidential nomination.)
The other day I had the chance to chat with a fixture of the pro-liberty movement, Andrew Langer. He’s probably best known locally as an activist and internet radio personality, but he also serves as president of the Institute for Liberty. We touched on a lot of these subjects during a fairly lengthy, in-depth conversation.
monoblogue: Let me get my readers up to speed here. You’ve actually been on my blog a few times in various capacities, I’ve noticed that your name has come up quite a few times. But, really the first time I really got to talk to you a great deal was when the TEA Party all got started.
monoblogue: Now, the question I have – and I know you were there at the beginning - you’re actually the president of Institute for Liberty, which was actually around before the TEA Party…
monoblogue: …but was kind of carried along with the TEA Party, but where do you think, in the four years or so the TEA Party has been in existence, where do you think it’s gone and where do you think it’s going to go. Is it dead like some people say?
Langer: Well, no, I mean insofar as the – the movement existed before the TEA Party, and will continue to exist after the TEA Party. Movements are always changing fundamentally; that’s the nature of them. They go a certain distance, and then they stop, and they transform, that’s what happens. So, before the TEA Party movement was the Don’t Go movement, you had the property rights movement, you had the various taxpayers’ movements that have been out there…the TEA Party movement has just been an outpouring of discontent in which things got jelled together very, very easily and lots of different factors came together.
What killed the TEA Party brand was the media itself, which never really understood what the movement was. It never fit into any of their particular boxes, and what the media doesn’t understand the media will work to destroy – especially if that thing they don’t understand is actively working against the things they have advocated for in the past.
So it’s a brand that has been damaged, but the movement goes on – and the movement, as all movements change as I said – different parts of it will focus on different things. (Part of it) will continue to focus on health care and health care reform. You have folks who focus on electoral issues and will continue to focus on electoral issues; a lot of them will focus on state and local races, some focused on Congressional races, some focused on Presidential races.
A lot of – and probably the most positive thing to come out of the movement – was the proliferation of new media, and the raising of the blogosphere as a legitimate force to be reckoned with. That’s certainly going to continue to go on, and obviously there’s been a certain degree of institutionalization of that in things like the Franklin Center and the various Watchdog Wires, and that cannot help but be a good thing.
Between that and the re-connection of people with their government, there is no going back from that, and that’s why, while the movement itself may not be the same thing as it was before, the forces that were at work will continue to be forces that are at work.
monoblogue: Let me back up one second here. You’re President of the Institute for Liberty, and I guess – I guess it would be good to explain what their role is insofar as the entire movement.
Langer: Sure. Well, I mean, and keep in mind I inherited the Institute for Liberty from a friend of mine who has gone off and become a successful author. IFL had been focused on a lot of defense and tech issues – and we still do a little bit of each – we are a nonprofit advocacy organization, which means that we take issues and we advocate on behalf of a particular side from a free-market, limited government perspective.
As it happens, I’ve got a background in mass movement organization. That’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time studying, something that I’ve had some efforts in growing up, and so when the TEA Party movement itself began to form I found I had an expertise that I could lend to that movement, both in themes, organizational structures, and merely offering, as I saw, logistics – you know, how do you organize a rally? What are the elements of a rally? What goes into putting something together? And so, for me, the Institute for Liberty never had the resources of a FreedomWorks or Americans for Prosperity – we didn’t sort of jump on the moniker in a way that TEA Party Patriots or TEA Party Express were able to, but what we could offer was logistical advice and support to people.
In the very real sense in D.C. where we organized – we were part of the first TEA Party rally in February of ’09, to organizing the D.C. Taxpayer TEA Party, to offering our resources for the 9/12 D.C. march…
monoblogue: Which I was at.
Langer: Yeah, and I spoke, and it was great. And then at the state level offering up advice to various TEA Party events and also speaking at various TEA Party events in the state, so – it’s one of those things where for us, it’s never been about credit, it’s never been about glory, it’s never about making us center stage. When the Annapolis TEA Party was being put together, we were there at the start, sort of offering up our advice, but it was very clear that guys like Aaron Jones and his brother, they were wanting to head it up and they were wanting to put it together. We’re not interested in turf fights so we said whatever you need from the Institute for Liberty that we can give to you to help you put this together, we’ll do that. Whether it was financial support, or whether it was saying, hey, you need to get these permits or you need to get that, here’s how you want to do a press release, or here’s how you ought to put together the program…but beyond that, we were not folks who needed to be at the top of anyone’s list – that’s just not what we’re about. So we were happy to act in a supporting capacity.
monoblogue: That’s all right; the movement needs that, too. But another thing…
Langer: Michael, let me just say – and this is very, very key – I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that’s it not all about me, and it’s not all about IFL. And I think we need more folks to recognize that it’s not about their own personal glory, this is about getting stuff done and making change. And making change means making not about you.
monoblogue: I was going to ask about something else, but the way you answered that question, I’m going to slide into something else here…
monoblogue: …about the Maryland Republican Party. (laughs) And the game of personalities we seem to have in that party right now.
monoblogue: I know you had considered running for the (party Chair) post and you had to back out.
monoblogue: Because of…
Langer: Well, I mean, I make no secret about this, it’s one of those things where I almost ran in ’10, and had actually come very close to pulling the trigger. But at that point it was simply one of my donors said that they couldn’t fund IFL, and one of the great problems with the MDGOP Chairman’s position is that it’s an unpaid, full-time volunteer job – and it really would be the equivalent of a full-time job. And with two kids at home – my wife and I have a very equal partnership in child care – I couldn’t take on a full-time volunteer gig and sacrifice the Institute for Liberty at that point; it just couldn’t happen.
In ’12 the circumstances had changed somewhat. But the real problem is that my wife is an active-duty officer in the Air Force and either there’s a strong likelihood we will get transferred this year, and if we don’t get transferred this year there is 100% certainty that we will be transferred by July of 2014. I am not someone who takes on a job like chairman of the Maryland Republican Party without setting some clear goals and working toward those goals – I certainly couldn’t complete any of those goals in the next five months and there was great question in my mind whether I could complete my goals to my satisfaction in seventeen months and at that point we’d be back where we were before.
monoblogue: With an election to run.
Langer: Which is essentially the chaos of a party chairman’s race in which people confuse criticism with infighting, and all the things that go on with that. I’m not talking about the certain specifics of this race right now, but the reasons why I didn’t run are those very clearly. I’m someone who is incredibly optimistic about the Maryland Republican Party; I do not think that all hope is lost. With the amount of disarray and infighting that we have in our state party – I have seen disarray and infighting in other state parties as well, so Maryland is unfortunately not unique, but certainly there are challenges. And as if there are people who are – who want to work toward overcoming those challenges and there are people who are actively working against overcoming those challenges, and there are people who don’t know how to overcome those challenges. But those challenges can be overcome.
I think it starts with that proposition that the Chairman’s job is too big for one person to do, and anybody who thinks that it is a job that can be done by one person – they are either deluding themselves or they’re simply not capable of handling the job.
monoblogue: Well then that actually brings up a little bit of a different question – this will be more effective in a couple years when we select all new officers – should they run as a slate? Should we have a – instead of doing separate elections for each of the (Vice-) Chairs, would it be better to have a particular slate go up and vote for an entire slate rather…
Langer; No, I firmly believe in the freedom of choice, I believe in building coalitions, in the fact that people ought to try to work together. I think part and parcel of that is having individual elections for the different officers. I do, however, believe that more people ought to be involved in the running of the state party. I do believe that we ought to – we might ought to consider looking at – especially if the state party is going to continue to run with having the Chair being an unpaid volunteer position. I think we ought to consider dividing up that Chair’s responsibilities, maybe among co-chairs, I think there ought to be – and this is a conversation that I’ve had with Greg Kline – is that there ought to be more people involved in that operation. Certainly I think if more folks stepped up and were willing to take on more of the chairman’s responsibilities and work with the chairman to take on those responsibilities, I think that you would find more people willing to run for Chair.
A group of my friends and colleagues, we talked to a lot of folks about running for Chair, about who was going to run for Chair, who might run for chair? And by and large, the number one complaint that people has was it is too big of a job for one person to do as a volunteer gig only. In the near term the state party simply does not have the resources to pay someone to be Chairman, especially if they pay an Executive Director, and they shouldn’t. But the point is, so long as it is this haunting huge responsibility for one person, unpaid, the more discouraging it becomes for somebody to run for Chair. Good, qualified people to run for Chair.
And so I had pledged to Greg (Kline) that if he ran I would help him for as long as I could and as much as I could, as long as I’m in Maryland and probably after I leave Maryland I’ll still continue to help Greg because I have every intention of returning to Maryland down the road. Other folks around Greg have pledged to help him and to make sure that his chairmanship is a success. It’s not just voting for Greg, but voting for folks around Greg who are good people and who want to work – and there are a lot of folks who sort of stepped up there and said, yeah, I’ll help out.
It gets to another of my big themes of this Chairman’s race, which is inclusivity vs. exclusivity. And this idea that, in order to build a party, you need to be solicitous of outside opinion and outside help. One of my great criticisms of Diana Waterman – and this is a criticism, it’s not a knock on Diana Waterman’s personality, I think Diana Waterman is a lovely person, she’s a pleasant person. She is someone who avails herself of opportunities to get active. But I will not say that Diana Waterman is someone who’s incredibly solicitous of inclusivity. Case in point is the job that she’s handled, she has demonstrated a record of someone who has not been someone to bring people into the office to work, or bring people into an organization to work. Diana steps in, and she becomes chairman of something, and people are shut out of the process.
You can talk to folks about the Eastern Shore Republican Alliance, which Diana stepped in there and became Chair, and she had a few folks around her who were regional vice-chairs, and the operation went nowhere quickly because it became bureaucracy. It became another thing for Diana Waterman to become chairman of, and it was very clear that she didn’t want any outside help, and that doesn’t build the party.
monoblogue: But it built her resume.
Langer: Well, it built her resume. And that is something I’ve also talked about, which is an issue of confusing promotion with accomplishment. Which I think is something fundamental – confusing the resume with competence. This gets into the two things that happened last week, which calls into question, and I’ve said this before – anyway, I’m getting too far afield here.
It’s this issue of inclusivity, and I’ll give you a prime example: folks who believe this Chairman’s race is only of interest to Central Committee members, and I’ve heard this from a few people that only Central Committee members ought to be briefed as to what’s going on with the state party and why the Chairman’s race is important. That sends a message to your rank-and-file Republicans, who elect Central Committee members, that their opinions are not needed, that they have no place in advocating who should be Chairman because they’re not Central Committee members, they haven’t been involved to the degree that Central Committee members are. That’s fundamentally the wrong message.
Not only is the Chairman’s race of import to every Republican in Maryland who is trying to vote to bring a different vision of government to the state of Maryland, but it’s important on a national scale, too. Because the Chairman, and what the Chairman can do, has an impact on this rules fight that is going on and is going to happen in the next couple of weeks as the RNC Rules Committee meets. And as you can see by what happened (two weeks ago), the Chairman has an incredible amount of influence as to what happens at that Rules Committee, either by appointing someone who is dedicated to undoing the damage that happened in Tampa over the summer, or by someone who is by all accounts part and parcel of the damage that happened over the summer.
monoblogue: Well, let me – I will say this: in refuting the idea that the race is just of interest to Central Committee members, my readership has just surged as this whole thing has developed. A lot more people come to my website to read about the situation than the 300 Central Committee people.
I am curious about one other thing – this is where I’m going to wrap up. The Red Maryland network and the radio show that you did, how did that all come together? I’ve been kind of curious how that all started.
Langer: I had been wanting to do a podcast for awhile – I experimented with a podcast through a thing called HipCast because a buddy of mine, Phil Kerpen, had said something about doing a HipCast, you could do it by phone. But I didn’t like the audio quality there. And so at CPAC in 2011 I launched LibertyLine, which was an actual semi-slick podcast where I was upping the production values, I got a good microphone, I was doing interviews by phone – and remember, Mark Newgent was, at the time, a neighbor of mine. So Mark came in and sat in with me a couple of times.
(Meanwhile) Greg (Kline) and Brian (Griffiths) had done their Red Maryland show by BlogTalk, and they decided they were going to do – they wanted to create an actual network and they apparently talked to Mark and Mark said, hey neighbor, I know you’re doing this, would you like to instead do a weekly show with me instead of, you’re doing your thing one interview or two interviews three times a week why don’t you change schedules and come on and do this with me? And so that’s how it was born.
Greg and I started doing it, and then he and I started shopping it around – we both had contacts up at (W)BAL, so we’d done some fill-in work on BAL’s ’1090 At Night’, you know, made inroads to the Mike O’Meara Show, helping out, doing some stuff with those guys – so that’s how it is. Greg and Brian wanted to develop an actual sort of podcast political network, understanding how the whole industry is changing, and that’s what they did. They’ve got programming five out of seven nights now.
monoblogue: Yeah, I really think that’s interesting – now I am not a person that does a lot of radio per se, but I can tell you from just checking around that it’s almost like people are getting into multimedia moreso – I mean I started my blog in 2005 and nobody had ever heard of blogging, let alone internet radio. Now you have people that do video, radio – we’re our own little subculture of media here, and it’s kind of interesting to see where it’s going to go in the future.
Langer: Well, this is what I’m saying – this is one of the great things that’s come out of the TEA Party movement. It is that there’s this proliferation of new media – Mark and I, when we were together before Mark moved back to the Western Shore, when he and I would do our show weekly we would do a radio component and a video component. We would get set up over here because Mark’s house was chaos at night and mine was a little more subdued, and so all the folks that broadcast together on the Red Maryland network, they do a video component so they’re on both BlogTalkRadio and UStream, you could watch or listen. It’s a little bit harder now that Mark and I aren’t in the same place, although I’d like to do that – there’s something that’s lost when we’re not able to give each other visual cues about things, but that’s the nature – the nature of media in the future is going to be narrowcasting, which means you go to a subset of the population, so for us it’s Marylanders and conservative Marylanders that we’ve been wanting to branch out a little bit into a little more pop culture so we can bring in a wider audience, and it is all on demand.
So one of the big debates that we have at Red Maryland radio is BlogTalkRadio the platform to use, is live radio – see, for me, live broadcast is overrated because the bulk of our listenership comes from the downloads. I look at podcasts like the Mike O’Meara Show – I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but Mike was on the radio for almost 25 years. They moved to a podcast format – they get maybe 150-200 listeners who listen or watch live on their live feed, but they get 35,000 downloads a day, because folks like to be able to pick and choose when they will listen to their podcasts. That’s the nature of the future.
And so that is another area where I think Greg has a much superior track record is this embracing of the new media, is this embracing of the blogosphere, in a way that the party simply, for whatever reason, has not done so – not only because they just don’t get it, but also because they confuse criticism with disloyalty. I think Greg knows in the end that some of his biggest critics are going to be his “buddies” at Red Maryland. And we know that guys like Joe Steffen are going to ream him a new one. I don’t think he minds it so much, I think he recognizes – he’s adult enough to recognize that there comes a time when you have to be open to criticism. That maybe one of the other big barriers this party has faced. Dissent is inherently patriotic, and certainly in Maryland it’s a cherished right.
monoblogue: (laughs) Yeah…
Langer: Folks who lead the party have to be more adult about that criticism, and recognize it’s going to come with the territory. And if you’re not taking flak, you’re not over the target.
monoblogue: There you go. I mean, I… (laughs) I’m sitting here chuckling because I’m kind of the rabblerouser on that front for several years.
monoblogue: I know just how – my blog and my political career on the Central Committee started almost the same time, so (laughs) they’re well aware…
Langer: For me, it’s one of those things where I had to step down from my Central Committee for my mental health. I was in a situation in which I had four people on my Central Committee who, if I said the sky was blue, they would swear the sky was pink.
It’s one of those things where at some point you have to make that calculus “is my time going to be better spent doing other things?” For me, it’s my show, obviously, with Mark, and the stuff I do with IFL.
But this Chairman’s race is of import, which is why I’ve gotten involved, and why Greg has my support. I make no bones about that fact.
monoblogue: Well, we appreciate it. That’s going to be a lot to write about.
Indeed it was, as I spent part of my Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday evening transcribing this lengthy interview. Maybe I should look into a podcast.
But I thank Andrew for his time, and look forward to speaking with next week’s guest.
Since I took nearly 100 pictures and 36 made the final cut, I decided to make this a two-part post.
Recently having done a stint at the Turning the Tides Conference, I thought I had a little bit of an idea in what to expect from CPAC. But the entirety of the Gaylord Conference Center and the number of celebrities speaking and milling around tells me that I missed a lot when I missed the first two days of the gathering. Yet the one day I managed to be here was well worth my time in learning from and meeting those who move and shake the conservative world.
Walking into the Potomac ballroom I was blown away by the expanse of the venue. Sure, we have some decently-sized conference rooms for our 300-person gatherings for the Maryland Republican Party, but this room could hold a sporting event. If anything, the stage made the speaker look small.
The first speaker I heard upon my arrival and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation was TEA Party pioneer Jenny Beth Martin, who repeated the case I’ve been pleading since the most recent incarnation of the pro-liberty movement was born: conservatives are for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a thriving free market. Instead, Martin said, they are “mocked, marginalized, and maligned.”
She also added that we’re headed to bankruptcy, with an Affordable Care Act which is “unaffordable, callous, and cruel.”
“The reality today is grim and heartbreaking,” Martin added.
She concluded by asserting, in a rising voice, that liberty will endure – if we fight for freedom. “Our Constitution is worth fighting for, because freedom is worth fighting for.”
Rep. Steve King of Iowa followed Jenny Beth to the podium and made the case that “Obamacare has got to go…we can’t let up.” It erodes our vitality and is an “unconstitutional taking,” according to King. He also criticized the immigration initiatives because, as King claimed, 2 out of 3 illegal aliens are Democrats “and the Democrats know this.”
King called on us to “restore the pillars of American exceptionalism…we’ve got a country to rebuild together.”
I should point out that I had pictures of these two speakers and they didn’t make the cut. But this guy made the cut.
Wisconsin is a state which has a leader, said emcee Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, and Governor Scott Walker detailed a number of ways he’s indeed led.
Harkening back to recent initiatives, Walker noted welfare reform and tax reform originated in the states. And just as the states created the federal government, the 30 states with GOP governors – most of which also have Republican-led legislatures – can improvise with good, conservative ideas. But Walker made the point that “to be successful, we have to be optimistic, relevant, and courageous.” It’s obviously working in Wisconsin, where 93 percent of the state said it was heading in the right direction. “We’re the ones who care about fixing things,” he added.
Walker was ready with a number of examples of poor policy, like the first-year Milwaukee teacher who was selected as their teacher of the year but furloughed because she was at the bottom of the seniority chain. His union reforms eliminated that problem. The overall idea, continued Walker, was to replace the narrative that a successful government was one which created dependents with one which made the case that government works when it assists people to wean themselves off dependence by making it easier to get a job.
“In America, we celebrate the Fourth of July, not April 15,” shouted Walker. “We believe in the people, not the government!”
And then came Newt – a guy who only needs one name to convey who I’m speaking about.
Gingrich addressed the concept of government needing to be pioneers of the future, and get out of being prisoners of the past. As a movement our contrast with President Obama “couldn’t be more vivid.”
But he saved withering criticism for the “Republican establishment class,” which “couldn’t be more wrong.” Holding up a candle and light bulb, Newt chided Washington as “being prisoners of the past…they’re all trapped in the age of candles.” Both parties in Washington are blind to the future, though.
Interestingly enough, Newt promoted a book by a liberal author, the former mayor of San Francisco and now lieutenant governor of California, Gavin Newsom. But Citizenville was a book “every conservative should read” because it promoted a more active citizenry. Gingrich used the analogy of the Facebook game Farmville, with the idea being earning rewards for public-spirited achievement rather than planting virtual crops.
Newt also took a swipe at the establishment wing of the party, saying that since 1976 “the dominant wing (of the GOP) has learned nothing.” Nor should we be strictly the anti-Obama movement, said Newt.
The powerful morning lineup of featured speakers concluded with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the 2012 Presidential hopeful whose campaign flamed out after a great summer of 2011.
She explained about the TEA Party movement “we love people in this country…we want everyone to succeed in this country.” As key parts of that success, Michele believed there were a lot of goals we could accomplish “if we put our minds to it” such as cutting the price of gasoline to $2 a gallon, preserving our Second Amendment rights “for your sister and your mother,” and most ambitiously finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease in the next decade. The key wasn’t big government, she argued, but “big innovation.”
Bachamnn also chided the inefficiencies of government, pointing out that for every $10 spent on food stamps only $3 goes to recipients while the other $7 goes to bureaucrats. She also dubbed the Obama presidency as “a life of excess.”
In the hardest-hitting portion of her remarks, Michele savaged Barack Obama for the “shameful incident” of Benghazi. “This is a story of not caring,” Bachmann said. Because (Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, the two ex-Navy SEALs killed at Benghazi) cared, they defied orders and they chose to go to the aid of their brothers…they fought for our country.”
As the attack raged on, “they continued to radio their government begging for help,” charged Bachmann, “and that help never came.” This despite the fact President Obama knew of the attack within its first hour, she continued.
“A war was raging in Benghazi for hours, and all we know is that our President went AWOL,” she continued to a chorus of boos and catcalls for Obama. “No one knows to this day where the President was.”
Of all the Saturday speeches I heard, Bachmann’s was perhaps the most critical of Barack Obama.
After she finished, I decided to skip the next panel and head out to explore a little. I hadn’t really had the chance to walk around as I arrived shortly before the proceedings began. It was a crowded lobby to be sure.
This space also featured the famous “Radio Row” I’d only heard about, although on a Saturday morning it wasn’t as busy.
The TEA Party Patriots were busy doing a
radio show, though. (Actually, it may have been just before or just after this video was done. The blond gentleman in the background of my picture is Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.)
There were a few television broadcasts in various stages of production, such as those of Hot Air.
Also working on content was the TEA Party News Network, who thankfully sponsored the internet access (more on that in part 2.)
Further down Radio Row, another start-up operation was making itself known to the broadcasting world.
Later in the day, it was announced that One America News Network would make its debut July 4 of this year. “We will be the platform for the conservative message,” said OANN’s Graham Ledger. He cautioned, though, that cable systems “will resist putting on a conservative news network.”
Once I made my way down the hall and down a level, I was at the entrance of the exhibit hall. I didn’t count them, but there were probably over 100 groups exhibiting their wares. By the time I was through, the swag bag I received at the entrance was very full (I took the picture when I got home.)
The exhibit hall was fairly expansive as well.
Here was a group I think needs further investigation. Unfortunately, there was no one there to explain the concept to me. From what I gather, it’s a database of conservative companies to support.
Another group I’d love to have seen a representative of was this one. Maybe their volunteer (or intern) had an encounter with some union thugs.
I got to talk with this group, though. They represent an outfit I’ve referenced a lot over the years.
A newer but very nice organization has been referenced on this site since its formation. Unfortunately, in missing Friday I missed a chance to talk with its founder.
Someone else who might be on the 2016 ballot had some unofficial help. These were placed on a side table, but not many were wearing them that I saw.
There was also an area in the exhibit hall for book signings. When I was down there, Newt and Callista Gingrich were signing their tomes with Ellis the Elephant looking on.
Some people simply took the opportunity to relax and take a quick break in the CPAC Lounge. They could watch the action upstairs on the monitors.
Just like them, I’m going to rhetorically relax and take a break, since this seems like a nice dividing point. Part 2 will be up tomorrow morning.
And another offshoot of the conservative movement is born. Former GOP Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum is making an attempt to localize his Patriot Voices endeavor:
It’s been an exciting 9 months! Since Patriot Voices started last June, we’ve already accomplished so much. We stopped a United Nations treaty that would jeopardize our parental rights. We pushed for passage of the No Budget No Pay bill, which ensures that Congress won’t get paid unless they pass a budget. And Patriot Voices PAC helped elect several strong conservatives to key House and Senate races in last year’s election.
And now, it’s time to get connected at the local level to ensure we can accomplish even more. We are starting local chapters across the country to connect local members with our state and national leadership. The role of local chapters will be to help Patriot Voices advance the first principles of conservatism in local communities across the country. We encourage our local chapter coordinators to recruit members who believe in what we’re doing and who will be ready to activate, engage and support endorsed candidates, projects and activities.
If you are interested in starting a local Patriot Voices chapter, we have an exciting way to kick it off!
We’d like you to host an “Our Sacred Honor” house party. “Our Sacred Honor” is a DVD that I narrated, which explores the meaning of our founding documents, the intentions of those who drafted these documents and the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. I was fortunate enough to help tell this story through visits to many of our nation’s historic places that marked our country’s beginning.
We look forward to working with you to make Patriot Voices a tremendous grassroots force across this country so we can impact the issues that will affect our country’s future in the years to come.
I actually found this quite intriguing, but a little worrisome at the same time. Perhaps the idea of the TEA Party as a leaderless institution has its merits, but to some it may seem like too many people are trying to cultivate the same ground here.
While he wasn’t my first choice by any stretch of the imagination, I ended up supporting Rick Santorum in the Maryland primary election because he was the best remaining candidate – overall, the voters in a number of rural Midwestern and Southern states agreed because he swept through those 2012 primaries like a prairie fire. And certainly there is a lot to like about their stances on issues - maybe I don’t fall in foursquare with Patriot Voices on everything, but they definitely fall within my 80 percent rule.
One thing I’ve noticed about the local conservative movement, though, is that it is very localized: we tend to focus on Maryland issues. Granted, many of them are extensions of fights which occur at the national level (Agenda 21 and Second Amendment issues immediately come to mind) but there are issues we don’t consider because we tie ourselves up at the state level.
I think that if you made a Venn diagram with one circle comprised of those who would be the target audience of Patriot Voices and the other being those who are active in the local TEA Party movement, they would intersect but perhaps not as much as one thinks. My thought is that, based on the social issue aspect of Patriot Voices which is not as pronounced in the TEA Party movement with its more libertarian streak, there may be room for both locally as separate groups who can work as allies on specific issues and try not to step on one another’s toes on the rest. Moreover, the national perspective of Patriot Voices may lend itself to greater opportunities for the overall pro-liberty movement at-large to work across state lines and bring together leaders from across Delmarva who may not otherwise be able to compare notes.
It will be interesting to see who steps up and becomes the leader locally – I can think of a couple candidates who may be good for the task and who read here regularly. We’ll see what they do. And I wouldn’t mind watching the movie, either.
After the Republican National Convention last August, liberty-minded party regulars were chagrined about changes in the party rules that they felt enriched the party elite at the expense of the grassroots, not to mention the controversy surrounding their very enactment. That bitterness extended through the campaign and was among the many reasons blamed for the demise of the Mitt Romney effort.
So this news was welcome, and it comes in part from Maryland’s National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose:
In response to the concerns expressed by grassroots Republicans surrounding the changes in the rules that govern the party, the RNC today made a decision to bring together the members of The Standing Committee on Rules to revisit the amendments that some believe weaken the GOP.
“Our concern is that these rules will centralize power with the top leadership, and diminish both the influence, and the diversity of ideas and experiences, that the grassroots offers to the party,” said John Noisy Hawk, a member of the elected Maine Delegation to the Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida where the rules were adopted. “The GOP believes in empowering the little guy, and we want to see that happen both in our party, and nation wide.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Maryland Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose of Baltimore rose to praise the committee members and their newly reelected Chair Reince Priebus for the move.
“I’m grateful to be both a grassroots activist and a member of the RNC. In our deliberations it’s important to recognize the many questions we’ve received from activists and donors about our Rules passed at this past convention.
“I congratulate our National Committee, our Resolutions Committee, and Chairman Priebus on hearing this message from the grassroots. Today, we unanimously passed a resolution supporting the formation of a Standing Committee on Rules to examine these concerns. This is exactly the kind of work this committee can do to be most effective in partnering with the grassroots in each of our states.
“We are hopeful about the future and grounded in the belief that every mom and dad, son and daughter are the grassroots who make this country and our Republican Party great.”
Chairman Reince Priebus responded, “Perfect. And to that point… we will have a rules committee constituted at the spring meeting. We will have that meeting the earliest than we have ever done it before… We will have a rules committee to hear any and all amendments, any and all suggestions. And then we are also going to have an official meeting of the RNC at our spring meeting, something we have not done in the past. So that if there are matters and business and rules amendments that are passed out of the rules committee, we can hear those amendments and those suggestions, in the formal body to make them formal amendments under Rule 12.”
The resolution reads as follows:
WHEREAS, many people are concerned about the rules process at the Convention Rules Committee;
WHEREAS, Rule 12 allows Rule 1-11 and 13-25 to be amended by a majority vote of the RNC Standing Committee on Rules (“Rules Committee”) and a seventy-five percent (75%) affirmative vote by the members of the RNC; and
WHEREAS, the Standing Committee on Rules of the Republican National Committee has not been constituted and therefore cannot consider proposed amendments under Rule 12 of The Rules of the Republican Party (the “Rules”); therefore, be it
RESOLVED, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee 1) will ask all states to submit their Rules Committee member by March 1 and 2) will call a meeting of the RNC in April of 2013 and conduct a Rules Committee meeting during this meeting for the purpose of considering amendments to Rules 1-11 and 13-25.
However, you should color me skeptical until I see action on these concerns, particularly the high barrier to change required. By my count, it would only take 43 “establishment” Republicans to keep the party rules as they are. (Although 125-43 is an overwhelming consensus, it’s less than 3/4 of the group.) That’s a fairly low hurdle for those who resist change to overcome, and as we saw in the fight for two of Maryland’s three National Committee posts, there is significant inertia in the party which needs to be surmounted. Indeed, some will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into this new paradigm which considers the party as a bottom-up rather than top-down structure; something based more on a TEA Party model but with the significant advantage of easier ballot access.
I will caution readers this post is a work in progress. I’ve played phone tag with Nicolee ever since this issue came up, probably because a) she knows I’m passionate about such things, and b) I’m going to hold her and all my other party leaders accountable. But because I’m working on a deadline – one which is self-imposed, but still tight because I have limited free time – I needed to run with this post today. I would encourage Nicolee, Louis Pope, or any of our Maryland Republican leaders to feel free to add their reactions to the comments section, or I can append as needed.
Today’s guest comes from a perspective which might surprise you. Jonathan Bydlak comes from a political background as the Director of Fundraising for Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign, but has turned his talents to the lobbying side of politics as President of the Coalition to Reduce Spending. They bill themselves as the only group in Washington with that singular focus.
Since I’ve referred to his group here on several occasions, most recently in this odds and ends post, I thought his national perspective would be good for readers to understand, if only to prove not everyone inside the Beltway wants to spend, spend, spend!
monoblogue: What got me interested in your group in the first place was that you’re looking at things on the spending side, which is where I think the whole ‘fiscal cliff’ solution lies.
monoblogue: But let me back up a second, because your group is relatively new, is it not?
Bydlak: Yes, we formed in February of 2012 and we didn’t become a full-time pursuit until late May or early June.
monoblogue: So you’re actually a very new group. What was the impetus behind getting together as a group and starting it up?
Bydlak: Well, I has the idea of the group for quite some time, literally since I worked in the (Ron) Paul campaign in 2008. The initial idea actually came out of a conversation I had with Peter Schiff, when I was working on the campaign. We used to chat every so often on economics and we got into this discussion one time about, why does no one talk about spending and why is no one as serious about spending as Dr. Paul? That’s what ultimately, personally drew me to Ron Paul, that he was willing to ask the question ‘where are you going to get this money from to pay for the things that you want to do?’ which most of the candidates in both parties tend to not want to do.
Anyway, the thought occurred to me at the time – Grover (Norquist) has been successful at getting – at least Republicans – to not raise taxes. And it struck me that the pledge model is actually a pretty effective one – not just because of Grover’s success, but also if you look at the term limits movement for example in the 1990s spread pretty effectively through groups like US Term Limits by using a pledge mechanism. It struck me as odd that no one had attempted to apply that model to the spending side of the equation, and here we fast-forward five years after the 2008 campaign…the TEA Party movement is talking about the debt and about spending, and it seems to be a more significant awareness and concern about borrowing and the debt, and so on… You have groups that focus on the tax side of the equation and you have groups that talk about spending along with twenty other issues, but there’s no one who has attempted to create an organization that is focused solely on spending…
There was a huge void being missed, particularly in light of the fact that people are seemingly waking up to the notion that spending is ultimately the cause of our financial problems.
monoblogue: Right. And I guess that’s the other side of the equation; as you said, Grover Norquist is very well known for his ‘no new tax’ pledge. The problem that I’m sure people are having a hard time wrapping their head around on the idea of cutting spending is that you can cut spending for anybody except the pet group of the person that’s sitting there saying “we need to cut foreign aid” or “we need to cut welfare” or “we need to cut defense.” Yet there’s other people who say “you can’t cut defense” or “you can’t cut welfare” and you can’t cut all this other spending. If – and maybe this is kind of putting you on the spot – if it were up to Jonathan Bydlak, what would be cut spending-wise?
Bydlak: Let me make a couple comments on that. So the first thing is that everyone wants to get into, exactly what we should cut. The problem I have with that discussion is that it assumes there’s already agreement that there should be cutting going on. As the recent fiscal cliff negotiations show, there’s actually not agreement at all. You had all but eight Senators voting for McConnell’s fiscal cliff compromise, and you had roughly one-third of Republicans and all but 16 Democrats voting in favor of the bill. So, in Washington at least, there isn’t agreement that we even should be cutting in the first place. We haven’t passed a budget in over 3 1/2 years, over a thousand days. So from our group’s perspective there is significant value to be added just by getting people together from both sides of the aisle and getting them to even agree with the premise that we should cut spending. That’s my first comment.
As far as where you cut, the bigger problem isn’t so much that everyone has their pet projects per se, it’s that both parties have not wanted to address significant portions of the budget. The reality is, if you want to balance the budget, you want to curb spending and bring the budget back into balance, you have to address the big-ticket items in the budget, and there are relatively few: entitlement spending and military spending. The interesting thing about those two things is they essentially represent the two sacred cows of the two major parties. On the left you have entitlements, Democrats (will tell you) ‘no, you can’t consider entitlement reform, on the right you have military spending and Republicans say, “no, we can’t really go and address a bloated Pentagon budget.”
So at the end of the day if you care about having a government that lives within its means, it doesn’t really matter what Jonathan Bydlak wants to cut because it’s a mass that you have to reform. Entitlements and military spending make up 75 to 80 percent of the budget, and when we’re talking about borrowing 40 to 45 cents out of every dollar you can’t balance that without…by looking at only 20 to 25 percent of the budget. So the second point I’ll make is that, from our group’s perspective, we’re trying to increase awareness and highlight the fact that ultimately, if you’re serious about spending and serious about having government live within its means, you have to also be serious about reassessing entitlement spending, about reassessing military spending, and about getting both parties to put their sacred cows on the table. The big part of the problem as I see it: Republicans, for a long time, have talked a good game about “we need to cut spending” and then Democrats come back and say, “all right, let’s start with the Pentagon.” Republicans say no, that’s our sacred cow and push it off the table…as a result, Democrats are never forced to put entitlement spending on the table.
To me, the most important line in our pledge is the line that says, “all spending must be on the table.” We can have the debate down the road about how much we can cut from here and how much we can cut from there, but let’s start with an agreement that we shouldn’t claim spending and that everything should be on the chopping block. In my opinion, that’s the only way you’re ever going to get both parties to seriously consider the types of cuts that need to happen.
monoblogue: So you’re looking at it more as a groundswell of support from the outside rather than trying to work from the inside…you’re looking for the people to say, “look, we want you to address this problem – we don’t care exactly how you address this problem, just put everything on the table and let’s address it.”
Bydlak: I think that’s the starting point, right? Then you have to say what can we cut in the Pentagon’s budget, and how can you restructure Social Security and Medicare and other entitlement programs. That’s the sort of debate that has to happen, but instead we see…grandstanding about that we can’t cut this, or can’t cut that, or, in general, an unwillingness to put their own sacred cows on the table. The compromise is always “I’ll vote for your spending if you vote for mine,” rather than “I’ll accept some cuts in my spending if you accept some cuts in yours.”
I think you’re starting to see a pretty significant change…one is that Ted Cruz, for example, he signed the Pledge and has been saying everything should be on the table. That’s something that would be hard to imagine happening five or ten years ago. Another example is Lindsey Graham – now Lindsey Graham and I would probably have disagreements over how much could be cut from the Pentagon’s budget, but Lindsey Graham has said, “you know what, I’d be willing to go and consider military spending on the chopping block if we can get meaningful entitlement reform.” That’s a very big change, so that’s the sort of mindset that we’re trying to promote, to actually get people to realize this problem is ultimately, in my opinion, and if you want to talk about the greatest threat to our national security, it’s our national debt.
So the way that you’ll ultimately get significant reform in these areas is to get everyone to agree that their sacred cow is on the table, too. I wouldn’t characterize it as working from the outside or working from the inside; it’s a combination of both.
monoblogue: Given that you have such an influence from Ron Paul, you would get a reputation as sort of a maverick. That was Ron Paul’s entire gig, so to say – he was not exactly a mainstream Republican (and) he kind of went his own way. That’s fine; I respect him for that. Do you find that the influence – most people know you’re disciples of Ron Paul and such – is that a large obstacle in Washington?
Bydlak: I don’t consider myself a disciple of Ron Paul; I don’t know even what that exactly means. Obviously I’m very supportive of Dr. Paul and I’m generally of the same political persuasion, but I don’t consider myself a disciple of anyone. There have been a couple of articles which came out recently saying that I’m the next Grover Norquist, if you will, (but) my comment is I’m the first Jonathan Bydlak. (laughs) That’s funny, my parents will tell you a story that when I was five years old, maybe I was four, the first book I ever bought was a collection of Ronald Reagan’s speeches, “Speaking My Mind,” which was an autobiography and collection of speeches he wrote shortly after leaving the White House. I paid a dollar for it at a used bookstore and growing up I had a picture of Ronald Reagan on my bedside table. There are plenty of things I would disagree with Ronald Reagan on, so again, to characterize me as a disciple of one or the other, I don’t really know.
I suppose your argument is that simply by having worked for Dr. Paul that somehow that ends up being a disadvantage, but I don’t think so because the focus of our organization is just on the issue. If you think about which organizations in Washington tend to be most effective at accomplishing their objectives, in my opinion the evidence is pretty obvious. And that is organizations that have a laser-like focus on one issue – you think about the NRA, you think about the ACLU – left or right, those groups tend to be the ones that are most effective and ultimately the most feared. So I think this is part of the reason it’s so important to focus only on the issue of spending, because if you start taking positions on twenty different issues the coalition of people that you’re able to bring together becomes increasingly limited. My hope, and I think what we’re proving, is that we’re able to bring together a larger number of people by focusing solely on one issue, regardless of whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, independent, Libertarian, Green, pick your ideological persuasion or party affiliation.
monoblogue; Well, I agree with that. That makes perfect sense to me. Now I know you were also circulating a spending pledge, much like Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes, and you mentioned Ted Cruz – I assume he’s one of those who has signed that pledge?
Bydlak: Yes, that’s right.
monoblogue: Who else has signed the pledge, and has anyone started to think about 2014 and contacted you and said “I already don’t like the way things are going in this Congress and I wanted to get a early jump on the next Congress so I’d like to sign your pledge now?”
Bydlak: We got started in the middle of the primary cycle, so we got started a little late just by virtue of when the group was formed. We had 24 candidates nationwide who signed the Pledge; of those we had a Democrat running in New York City, we had an independent running in Colorado, we had a handful of Libertarians, and the rest were Republicans. Out of those, I think 12 made it into the general election, and then two were elected: Ted Cruz being one and the most prominent, and the other being Doug Collins, who was elected in Georgia’s Ninth District, which has recently been redrawn because of the Census and Georgia getting an additional seat. Representative Collins has been looking pretty great in terms of what he’s been saying; I think he seems pretty solid on the issue. Of course, we’ll see how that continues to pan out… That’s sort of where we are right now; naturally we are focusing on getting organized ourselves in terms of being able to maximize our impact in 2014, with the idea being that we want to get as many people on the record as possible saying they are committed to the planks of our Pledge.
monoblogue: So your foot is in the door in terms of both the House and the Senate…in the future – and I know you’re basically a one-issue organization – are you planning on getting into financially supporting candidates or do you just want to stay with the advocacy arm of it?
Bydlak: No, we don’t endorse any candidates. Part of what I see our role is to put candidates on the record. For example, in the Texas Senate race Lieutenant Governor (David) Dewhurst, who was running against Cruz, also signed the Pledge within a day after we announced Senator Cruz had signed… We’re not here to endorse anyone.
Pledges have two main benefits, I think. One is that they provide information to voters. When candidates run for office and say they’re serious about tackling the national debt, or that they’re a fiscal conservative, or what have you – it’s one thing to say those things but it’s another thing to be actually willing to put your name on paper and say what that actually means. We are attempting to define very clearly what that means; generally the three planks of our Pledge, which is that you’ll only vote for a balanced budget, you won’t vote for new spending programs that aren’t offset elsewhere in the budget, and they won’t vote to increase borrowing.
The second benefit, of course, is that when they get into office and they renege on the promise they made to voters, well, now there’s a means for the voters, the activists, and the media to hold them accountable. It’s not just that they ran for office and it was some random verbal promise, here you have it in writing and you can say, “wait a minute, this is what you said and you’re not doing that.”
So we see our role as not at all trying to endorse anyone, but actually trying to get as many people as possible to go on the record and say we care about these issues enough that we want to signal to voters that we’re serious enough to say we want to sign on the dotted line. That, in a nutshell – to us, it’s more about changing the incentives of the game. There’s a great Milton Friedman quote where he says something to the effect of the greatest challenge in politics is to create good incentives so that imperfect people do good things. And the idea is if you’re going to rely on politicians to do the right thing, that’s kind of a fool’s errand. But you can start to create incentives for certain behavior – that is something that I think is really valuable, and that’s where I think the Pledge is really valuable that it starts to provide a counterweight to the incentive of the status quo, which is basically bring home the pork to your district and have your campaign financed by special interest groups.
But if you can show that voters care about these issues enough where politicians feel compelled enough to go on the record about them, well, that changes the incentives of the game and perhaps leads to a better opportunity to see meaningful spending cuts.
monoblogue: Certainly I’d like to see, if I’m faced with a primary of ten people, I’d love to see that ten people signed the Pledge, and I definitely want to do my part to spread the word. I know you guys have a website and all that, so take this opportunity to plug yourselves for my readers.
Bydlak: The website is reducespending.org, People can go on our website and download a copy of our Pledge, and get their Representative or Senator to sign, or candidates to sign. There is also a Voter Pledge people can sign, with the goal being the more support we can show for the idea we are promoting the better. We are open to any suggestion, certainly we are heavily into social media, which is probably not surprising given my experience in the Paul campaign, but definitely join our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and send me an e-mail and get involved that way in terms of, if there are ideas people have, we want to hear any of them.
monoblogue: I have one last thing that just occurred to me. Are you planning on taking this to a state level, or strictly federal?
Bydlak: It’s absolutely something we would like to do, and we’ve already talked to a couple organizations about this. The challenge of the state level is that there are fifty different requirements, as some states have balanced budget requirements, some don’t, there’s various minutia in every different state; frankly, I’m not well-versed in all the minutia in how each state works. So that’s a growth opportunity and something we want to do, but we need to enlist the involvement of people who are experts so what we would likely do is roll them out in a handful of states at a time. That’s definitely something we would like to do in the future.
monoblogue: All right. I appreciate the time; it’s been very enlightening to me and hopefully getting the word out a little at a time will help you in 2014.
I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed chatting with Jonathan, whose group may someday rival organizations like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Certainly I think they have a sound approach to getting excess spending into the national conversation.
Next week’s guest is yet to be determined, since there’s a possibility of having a “breaking news” personality. Stay tuned.
The question expressed in the title is perhaps the most vital one going forward for Maryland Republicans. Some are already arguing the state is a lost cause, and when your state’s winning Presidential write-in is Santa Claus (yes, Santa was an official write-in candidate so his votes counted) it’s pretty likely that too many expect things from the government.
In 2012 there were two statewide candidates bearing the Republican ticket and two Libertarians. While the circles aren’t perfectly together, if you made a Venn diagram there would be a lot of common ground and that percentage could make a difference someday. So for the sake of this argument I’m adding them together.
- President: Mitt Romney 971,869 + Gary Johnson 30,195 = 1,002,064 (37%)
- U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino 693,291 + Dean Ahmad 32,252 = 725,543 (27.5%)
Arguably, of the two Republicans the case can be made that Bongino was the more conservative while Romney was perceived by most as relatively centrist (and the closer he got to the end of the campaign, the more he drifted toward the center.) But in that Senate race there was the third man, and polling suggests that for every two votes he took from Democrat Ben Cardin he took three from Dan Bongino. Add 60% of Rob Sobhani’s total to this mix and you have 984,103. Figure in the 2.7% undervote on the Senate race as compared to the Presidential one and it looks like the current conservative/libertarian ceiling is about 1 million votes statewide.
So let’s say that 1,000,000 is the magic number. If our side had turned out 1,000,000 votes for each past statewide election:
- The 2010 statewide elections for Governor and Comptroller would have been nailbiters rather than over by 30 minutes after the polls closed.
- Those elections would have been for an open gubernatorial seat because Bob Ehrlich would have been re-elected in 2006. Michael Steele would have ran this year as an incumbent, and the other two statewide races would have been agonizingly close losses.
You’ll notice that these are gubernatorial cycles rather than Presidential – simply put, 1 million votes in Maryland won’t win in a Presidential year. The only GOP candidate to ever exceed 1 million here was George W. Bush in 2004 and he was running as an incumbent (and still lost big.)
So the trick is getting the same base which comes out to vote in the Presidential election to participate in the gubernatorial ones. But at the same time we have to expand our share of the pie somewhat to be more competitive in Presidential races rather than having GOP campaigns write Maryland off as a lost cause before the campaign even begins.
While there is a share of the electorate which has as its focus a single issue (generally social issues like abortion or gay marriage, although this extends to items like Second Amendment issues or property rights) most people vote their pocketbook and unfortunately they’ve come to grudgingly accept that the government is going to take more out of their pocket regardless of how much they complain. After all, in 2010 – during a TEA Party wave election – Maryland voters re-elected a governor who had raised taxes on practically everyone. But Martin O’Malley successfully pushed the message that “a fee is a tax” and could paint his GOP opponent Bob Ehrlich with the same brush. (O’Malley and General Assembly Democrats then merrily went on to raise many of those same fees.)
Yet at the same time a growing proportion of these voters have become recipients of these same government handouts the increased taxes pay for, creating a situation where redistribution of wealth is the means by which the majority party maintains power. After all, when over half depend on government for their well-being then those in charge of the government tend to stay in charge.
Somewhere we have allowed the opposition to paint us as heartless government cutters. And the other problem is that telling people that “it’s your money” doesn’t work as well when they receive the money from a governmental unit. That doesn’t have to be the ever more ubiquitous EBT card – it can be employment by a governmental unit, whether city hall, the local school, or any of the thousand other bureaus, agencies, or even nonprofits which depend on government grants for their existence. Remember, that cop on the street, your child’s public school teacher, or the lady at the MVA are all government employees, but so is the Salisbury University professor or – indirectly – the grant writer at the nonprofit. Nearly all of them have a vested interest in making sure the taxpayer money spigot remains flowing, because many are scared by the common media narrative into believing the TEA Party is going to leave them high and dry.
Indeed, there are certain cases where they could be correct. But one argument I wish Dan Bongino could have amplified more, because it was effective, ran along the lines (I’m paraphrasing from memory) of being happy to pay for the cop on the street, the public school teacher, or the soldier in Afghanistan – but he drew the line at cowboy poetry festivals in Nevada.
Obviously one can argue the merits of a project which benefits one small area – the drought-stricken farmer in Indiana whose subsidized disaster assistance we criticize may feel the same way about Ocean City beach replenishment here. Moreover, those are small potatoes compared to the huge entitlement spending begging to be cleaned up on the federal level.
But we have to start small and gain trust, particularly when it comes to state politics. For all his tax-raising faults and sacrificing the needs of his state in order to pursue the personal gain of higher office, Martin O’Malley is not an unpopular governor. Arguably this could be due to plenty of help from a sympathetic media, but he’s used the state’s better-than-average unemployment rate (thanks to adjacency to the seat of federal government) to convey the message that all is well. Those who have differing opinions don’t have the same blowtorch to get the message out – 25,000 Facebook followers for Change Maryland is great but hundreds of thousands of Marylanders subscribe to the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post. While I wish to have thousands of readers a day and believe my message is worth the readership, I don’t reach that many with this little candle of mine – it’s no blowtorch quite yet. To be quite blunt, if you took the unique daily readership of ALL the political blogs which deal with Maryland politics – even including their attempts at multimedia – and added them all together, you might equal the readership of a regional newspaper like the Daily Times. As it stands at present, we’re the guppies in an ocean of media, and we have to work at expanding that sphere of influence as well.
Yet the very argument we have a winning message remains untested. Perhaps Dan Bongino was a nearly perfect spokesperson for a conservative message, but there were factors which affected his Senate bid: a perceived lack of life and business experience compared to his opponents, and the fact that one opponent ran a populist campaign with non-specific promises no one forced him to flesh out. Rob Sobhani wanted the debates and so did we, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for our state and hard questions weren’t asked.
Yet even if Bongino had ran his 2012 race unmolested, the probability is strong he would have picked up around the same 36 to 37 percent which has seemed to be our ceiling in Presidential years. We have to convince about 300,000 more voters in a Presidential year that – assuming we have a conservative, pro-liberty candidate, of course – it’s in the best interests of both them and succeeding generations to cast their ballot for such a person. In one lump, that seems like a lot, but it really only takes a handful of politically agnostic neighbors or friends per activist to accomplish.
In the near future, 2014 is looming and there are at least four candidates who are looking for conservative, pro-liberty support (although they may or may not necessarily have a compatible message: think Bob Ehrlich.) Yet the same rules apply; as I demonstrated earlier getting 1 million votes in a gubernatorial year keeps us at least close and climbing the ladder for another 100,000 may put us over the top.
Yet we cannot rely on a politician – even one as articulate as Dan Bongino – to deliver our message for us. It’s time for all of us to do our part, even though many of us are still burned out on the lengthy 2012 campaign and the disappointment we feel with the results. Indeed, we lost this time but there’s always the next election. Spread the word that we CAN win!
Let me note straight away that the guys at Red Maryland think so, and for some very valid reasons.
Something the Maryland GOP has seemed to lack in the time I’ve been involved is forward-looking leadership. I don’t really remember much about John Kane since his tenure was ending as mine was beginning, but there were two facets I gleaned in second-hand conversations: he was Bob Ehrlich’s handpicked candidate and he spent money like a drunken sailor – so much so that another supposed Ehrlich crony, Jim Pelura, had to take drastic action to save the MDGOP from insolvency. But when Pelura departed from the Ehrlich party line and took the party in a more conservative direction, contributor wallets snapped shut and Jim was soon the recipient of a no-confidence vote. (Losing one of two Congressional seats probably didn’t help Pelura’s cause either.)
Enter Audrey Scott, and while the MDGOP’s finances improved (albeit not to the extent she claimed they did) we still only caught a small piece of the TEA Party wave – while overall the GOP gained 63 seats in the House we only got one, and made just modest gains in the Maryland General Assembly. (Local races were fairly successful, but the state party rarely gets involved that deeply in county or municipal races.)
Scott’s year as a caretaker passed and the baton was handed to Alex Mooney after a five-person contest in the fall of 2010. Mooney came in promising to make fundraising a priority, but one convention in admitted he had a tougher time than expected filling the MDGOP coffers.
And while Alex is elected to a four-year term, in the spring of 2011 we passed a bylaws change changing the term of the Chair and executive officers to a two-year cycle, to agree more with the national party. (It becomes effective with officers elected in 2014.)
With that precedent, though, one of three things may happen: through December 1, Mooney could resign either immediately or effective as of the first of December (the date of the state convention) because the party bylaws state a vacancy in the Chair position must be filled within 60 days. In that case, First Vice Chair Diana Waterman of Queen Anne’s County takes over on an interim basis.
If not, Mooney would either have to wait until early next year or create the need for a special meeting specifically for filling the vacancy. That wouldn’t be popular among the rank-and-file and would cost the party several thousand dollars. We’d also fret about reaching a quorum.
Or he could attempt to weather the storm and stay on, but now that Roscoe Bartlett has been ousted from Congress after debating in the first place whether to run again (and leaving a lot of people twisting in the wind, including Mooney) that challenger’s seat is open. If Alex wants to campaign for it, he can’t be party chair once he files.
If Mooney decides to resign, the field for Chair would be wide open:
- Would Audrey Scott accept a second caretaker term, and could she win anyway after the scorched-earth campaign between her and Nicolee Ambrose for National Committeewoman this spring?
- Mary Kane was runner-up in 2010, but perhaps has the “establishment” tag that’s the kiss of death among a growing proportion of Central Committee members.
- On the other hand, those who have been in the party a long time would probably not look twice at another Sam Hale candidacy; besides, he’s busy with the Maryland Society of Patriots.
- William Campbell is planning a second run for Comptroller, so he would be ineligible to finish out the term.
- Mike Esteve is another couple years older, but given his support of gay marriage, may not play well with the conservative base.
- A couple other intriguing candidates who considered a 2010 Chair race and backed out: 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Eric Wargotz and Institute for Liberty head Andrew Langer.
- Wild cards among the elected Vice-Chairs: Waterman, Larry Helminiak, and Eric Grannon.
- And, of course, someone from among the hundreds in the state who might be interested. Sad to say, Daniel “The Wig Man” Vovak is no longer available.
And I thought we would have a dull, boring wake of a convention. It’s not the Maryland GOP without the long knives coming out from time to time.
Lost in the post-election hangover and finger-pointing was something which could either be good news or bad news for Maryland Republicans: the Libertarian Party is assured of a place on the 2014 ballot. My friend Muir Boda provides some background:
Election results in Maryland showed positive results for Maryland Libertarians. Muir Boda, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 1st District received nearly 12,000 votes at 3.8%. Even more exciting the Libertarian Candidate for President, Governor Gary Johnson, received over 21,000 votes and 1.1% of the vote. This secures ballot access for the Libertarian Party in Maryland through 2016, which will save Maryland Taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, I’m not sure of Boda’s interpretation of the law about 2016, as Maryland election law states on minor parties:
The political party shall retain its status as a political party through either of the following:
(i) if the political party has nominated a candidate for the highest office on the ballot in a statewide general election, and the candidate receives at least 1% of the total vote for that office, the political party shall retain its status through December 31 in the year of the next following general election; or
(ii) if the State voter registration totals, as of December 31, show that at least 1% of the State’s registered voters are affiliated with the political party, the political party shall retain its status until the next following December 31.
Unless the Maryland Libertarian Party can get to and stay at a figure of about 36,022 registered voters (they had 10,682 at last report) my reading of that law means they only have 2014 ballot access.
Boda can boast, however, that he was the leading vote-getter of the eight Libertarians who ran for Congress in Maryland as he received 3.8% of the overall vote. If extrapolated statewide, Boda and his 12,522 votes would have easily topped the actual statewide candidates (U.S. Senate hopeful Dean Ahmad and Presidential candidate Gary Johnson) because neither had topped 30,000 votes as of the last round of counting. The First District has been very libertarian-friendly over the last three cycles, with Boda and 2008-10 candidate Richard Davis getting an increasing share of votes each time. Muir has a chance at beating Davis’s 3.79% in 2010 if he can hang on to his current percentage.
So what does that mean for the Maryland GOP? Well, obviously there is a small but significant part of the electorate which is dissatisfied with the moderate establishment of the Republican party, so much so that they would “throw away” their vote on a third party. Perhaps one factor in this was the fact Andy Harris was widely expected to crush his competition so a Libertarian vote was a safe “message” vote, but I think this 1 to 4 percent of the electorate is just as important as the 3 to 5 percent of the electorate which is gay – and we certainly bent over backwards to accommodate them in this election, didn’t we? (Granted, those two groups aren’t mutually exclusive but hopefully you see the point.)
While I’m discussing my Libertarian friend, I think it’s important to bring up an article he penned for Examiner.com. In that piece, he opens:
The utter failure of the Republican Party to embrace and acknowledge the millions of people that Ron Paul had energized over the last five years not only cost Mitt Romney the election, it may very well hinder the growth of the GOP. This is the result of a political party bent on preserving the status quo and adhering to its very principles.
He goes on to allege that “Mitt Romney did not have to cheat to win the Republican nomination, but he did anyway.”
Besides the fact I think his statement on principles is perhaps not artfully worded – if not for principles, why would a political party exist? – I also think Boda’s article loses a little bit of steam in the middle when he writes about the back-and-forth between the two parties. Republicans and Democrats exist in a manner akin to the way two siblings get along, with the bickering coming to a head at election time, and unfortunately Muir falls into the trap of believing there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.
But his opening paragraph and closing statement are fairly close to hitting the bullseye given the state of the national GOP as it relates to outsiders like the TEA Party. I’ll put it this way: given the general attitude of the mainstream media about the Republican Party, would it have hurt to follow the rules which were originally established and not shut out the Paul delegates? Yes, the convention may have served less as a Romney/Ryan coronation, but with the rules shenanigans that occurred there we had plenty of controversy anyway. I’m sure some percentage of them came around, decided to bite the bullet, and voted for Mitt Romney, but a lot of those folks didn’t vote, didn’t volunteer, and didn’t send in money.
The unfortunate truth is that Republicans had their chance to roll back regulations, reform the tax system and address other issues such as Social Security and Medicare. Yet, they became worried more about retaining power and keeping us at war than protecting our liberties.
Now I disagree with the specifics of this passage simply because the entire idea of a political party is “retaining power” and we were warned the battle against Islamic terror would be a long one. But in a sense Boda is correct as the last Republican president – with the help of a Republican-led Congress – worked to expand federal involvement in education (No Child Left Behind) and created another entitlement program with Medicare Part D. In the end, those will be more expensive than the oft-quoted passage by liberals about “putting two wars on a credit card.” Nor should we forget that President Bush had a plan to address Social Security, but demagoguery by Democrats and the AARP (but I repeat myself) nixed that thought.
Of course some are going to say that the idea of a competitor whose party mainly siphons votes from our side should be dismissed. But, unlike some of those in the Maryland GOP establishment, to me it’s principle over party and I’m conservative before I’m Republican. My job is to marry the two concepts together and win the battle of ideas, which in turn will lead to winning elections – even over the Libertarian candidates.
Perhaps you’ve heard about this, but if not here you go:
The Tea Party News Network (TPNN), on the heels of their launch seven days ago, today announced remarkable growth in traffic and online viewership. For TPNN’s initial broadcast on election night, the website received over 50,000 unique visits to TPNN.com, and more than 91,000 unique viewers to the live streaming video broadcast of their election coverage. With a partnership through the Rusty Humphries Show and the Talk Radio Network, TPNN’s election coverage reached hundreds of thousands of others on over 350 radio affiliates across the nation.
“We’re overwhelmed with the response we’ve received from tea party members. We knew there was demand for an online right-of-center news outlet that focuses on tea party news, but this exceeds our expectations,” said Todd Cefaratti, the editor and founder of TPNN. “We’re now more confident than ever there’s room for political coverage that comes from a place untainted by the liberal mainstream media, provided by the tea party, for the tea party.”
“There are a lot of so-called pundits and commentators in Washington and New York saying that the tea party is now irrelevant and blaming millions of proud tea party Americans for the election results,” said Scottie Nell Hughes, news director of TPNN. “If they knew the real strength of our movement, and they would come to a different conclusion. We’ve seen the strength through the demand for TPNN and we’re humbled by the comments from viewers and reader. We vow to keep up the momentum moving in to this important new year and to hold politicians accountable to the Constitution.
So I suppose this is the TEA Party’s answer to MSNBC.
But there needs to be some context, as mainstream news outlets likely had audiences in six to eight figures. Then again, when I’ve witnessed lengthy internet broadcasts which only attract half the audience that TPNN did on Election Night, that’s fairly impressive for the internet. It may be something worth watching.
While this is a Halloween day edition, hopefully you consider this a treat and Sandy hasn’t played any trick on my power which extends past today. (It didn’t.)
Did you know that the media has succeeded in demonizing the TEA Party to a point where it has the most negative connotation among political phrases? This according to Rasmussen, who claims a full 44% have been brainwashed into believing that being a TEA Party candidate is detrimental.
I take it as a badge of honor myself. Now if you’re considered liberal or moderate, that’s not good in my eyes.
Nor is this good – assuming it’s true, of course. I rarely take what this guy says at face value:
We’ve out-registered Republicans in every battleground state for the past THREE months.
Right now, we’ve got a total of more than 14,000,000 registered Democrats in battleground states like Florida and Nevada — that means we have a 2,400,000-person lead over Republicans where it matters the most.
And when it comes to voting early in battleground states, we’re in the lead in important states like Iowa and Ohio — and ahead in ballot requests in Nevada.
In Ohio, all public polling shows that the President has a double-digit lead among those who have voted. And nearly two-thirds of all voter registrations in the state in 2012 were in counties that President Obama won in 2008.
In Iowa, we lead in vote-by-mail ballots cast, in-person early voting, total voting, and total ballots requested. We also lead by a wider margin than we did at this point in 2008 in both ballots requested and cast. (All emphasis in original.)
Of course, that’s all subjective: registering voters doesn’t always translate to votes. This Politico story by Adrian Gray points out that Democrat turnout in Ohio’s early voting is down 220,000 compared to 2008 while the GOP is up 30,000. If that’s true, not all of these voters Obama is registering are going into his column. One could even speculate that Obama wants these early votes because people are changing their minds late and moving to Romney.
Meanwhile, one group is helpfully reminding non-citizens that for them, voting is illegal and could carry a severe penalty. Some will call it voter suppression and intimidation, but the law is the law. As Help Save Maryland notes:
While a few Maryland jurisdictions allow non-citizens to vote in their local elections, in general, non-citizens who vote in Maryland federal and state elections may be subject to fines, imprisonment and/or deportation. Even registering to vote, or encouraging other non-citizens to register to vote, is a serious crime in Maryland, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
The problem has been made worse by Maryland’s past history of giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. And organizations, such as CASA de Maryland, which provide services to illegal aliens, have posted notices in Spanish outside their facilities about helping people register to vote.
Another reason English should be our official language.
Someone else who is working against the grain assessed his two opponents succinctly after a recent debate:
(In this radio debate) both Senator Cardin and Rob Sobhani reaffirmed their commitments to a ‘government first’ economic recovery plan. While Senator Cardin believes this can be accomplished through increased taxes and increased government spending, Mr. Sobhani continues to campaign disingenuously by attempting to sway Marylanders for their votes with pie in the sky campaign promises that the Washington Post is calling ‘half-baked’. This is what we have come to expect from typical Washington insiders.
I am the only candidate making an ironclad promise to the citizens of our great state not to raise your taxes and to get the government out of your way, allowing our economy to return to growth and prosperity.
And the message seems to be working for Dan Bongino, as he continues to outraise his opponents combined. It’s unfortunate that their local debate was a casualty of Hurricane Sandy because I wanted to ask Sobhani about the concept of privatizing profit while socializing risk – if he can get $5.5 billion in investment, why not do it now?
A message that press guru Jim Pettit (the spokesperson for Change Maryland) has gotten out to a wider audience was recently featured on National Review Online. He writes about the Genuine Progress Indicator that Martin O’Malley is trying to foist on Maryland in lieu of actual job creation and true economic advancement. I spoke about it more on this post.
It’s telling to me that as O’Malley’s national profile increases, so does the reach of Change Maryland and, by extension, Pettit and Larry Hogan. Being a thorn in O’Malley’s side is obviously a popular gig.
So hopefully you’re in the process of recovering from Sandy if it affected you. Sorry I had to put up some seriously scary items on Halloween, but we could face an even scarier future one week from now if the current regime remains in place.
Last spring environmental advocates claimed a victory with the passage of SB236. While it was dubbed the “Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012,” the reality is that for most rural areas of Maryland it will do neither.
But radical environmentalists like the 1000 Friends of Maryland characterized SB236 and other measures in this manner:
The 2012 legislative session will be remembered as one that provided critical new tools to clean up our waters and slow rural development. (Emphasis mine.)
While a number of rural counties have debated the effects of the bill, they’ve come to the realization that the state holds the trump card. That wasn’t lost on Delegate Mike McDermott, who noted shortly after the bill’s passage last spring:
(The bill) is a far cry from preserving agriculture and farming in Maryland. This is the great land grab by Maryland – hurting farmers in the name of preserving them.
It is reasonable to draw conclusions from this bill that this spells the end of rural development in Maryland. It will devalue farmland and place farmers who must borrow against their land for the next planting season to have land that is not worth anywhere near what it is in today’s market. This destructive bill is the camel’s nose under the tent.
This view is shared by a growing number of those aware of the insidious effect of government, especially in Cecil County. Their Campaign for Liberty group echoed McDermott’s remarks:
Senate Bill 236 (Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012) requires all counties to adopt a “tier map” that will severely limit future development. It is part of Governor O’Malley’s “Plan Maryland” legislation and the U.N. ‘s Agenda 21 program. SB236 will infringe on private property rights, decrease property values, and cause property taxes to go up.
Yet the state is also planning another route of attack on rural development, as a recent meeting in Wicomico County suggests. The September 2012 Growth Offset Policy Meeting was attended by several in the local TEA Party along with area planners and environmental groups, which may have been the target audience because the meeting was held during the day when most private-sector people work. It outlined a plan by the state to reduce nitrogen loads in Chesapeake Bay via a state-imposed nutrient cap. Of course, that cap is always subject to change, and the costs will be borne by the private sector but collected by a government agency which will obviously take their cut.
But we don’t know what their cut will be, nor do they. One meeting attendee related the following:
When I asked them how many additional state employees they were going to need to administer this program, they had no answer. When I asked how they were going to regulate such an obvious moneymaking, ripe for fraud scheme, they acknowledged it was a problem, but they had no answer. When others asked how the farmers were going to be able to finance their operations due to reduced land value to borrow against, they had no answer. When the NGOs asked how they could make money off this by cleaning up a stream and claiming the credits, they weren’t sure, but the greed was evident in every NGO there. When I asked how a developer could be sure that his credits that he purchased would be good from year to year (what if the farmer didn’t do a good job and they took his credits away from him?)…would the new homeowner be responsible for getting new credits??? How long did you have to buy credits for? (they thought maybe 30 years for a house). Everything was said with the caveat that it might change….
The sentence about how the NGOs could make money off this was telling – no one’s paying a farmer to clean a stream, but these advocacy groups look to make a mint. And the state of Maryland will only be only too happy to hand it over to them by taking it from a farmer or job creator.
Worth noting as well is that the Growth Offset Policy Meeting was organized by the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology and given “generous support” by the notoriously radical Town Creek Foundation, which is “dedicated to a sustainable environment.” “Sustainable” is a code word for controlled.
Yet the state of Maryland may not necessarily be the beneficiary. It may be but a serf to a United Nations master, according to this group which opposes the UN’s Agenda 21. They continue an evolution which has seen the doctrine of one’s home being their castle forfeited to county control through zoning, the subsequent loss of county power to the states, the states losing their grip on local issues to the federal government, and finally nations ceding sovereignty to a world government called the United Nations.
Step one of that evolution was pointed out in the Cecil County Campaign for Liberty’s critique of the bill. If rural land is devalued, it indeed reduces the landowner’s net worth at a greater rate than his property taxes went down – remember, in Maryland assessed land values are only set every three years so the farmer pays on a higher value at the higher property tax rate set when overall land valuation declines (as it will) but a county maintains constant yield. Of course, this is the secondary effect of the county doing the state’s bidding.
But rather than meekly submit to the request of Annapolis, some of Maryland’s rural counties are fighting the state. Late last year four counties formed the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition. What began in western Maryland has spread eastward, with Wicomico County tardily joining the fold a week ago and bringing the total membership to nine. Members are geographically spread across the state, with the original four in the west, Cecil County bridging the gap between shores, and four counties on the Eastern Shore (Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, and Wicomico.)
Yet not all counties are taking their membership seriously. For example, Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt is quoted as wanting to “make it clear that the coalition doesn’t oppose Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley or any of the state initiatives.” Maybe he should, considering the state is trying to usurp local control which has served us well for decades. Pollitt will probably be the weakest link on a body which was spearheaded in part by Frederick County Commission head (and 2014 gubernatorial candidate) Blaine Young.
But the toothless Republicans on our County Council might just play along, warned my friend:
It seems that if each county would just designate the preserve land as Tier IV, that would be sufficient. All the law requires is that the county designate four tiers. Wicomico is looking at designating all agricultural land Tier IV. We need to dissuade them. Do the minimum and fight the state…but can we get our Republican councilmen (6 vs. 1 Dem) to do the right thing? Plus our county executive is a Democrat and a big spending liberal.
Personally, I’d put everything in the least restrictive tiers and dare the state to stop us. Someone needs to tell those Annapolis bullies to pound sand and we’re just the county to do it – if a few people get the stones to do so.
I think those of us who live in Wicomico County are bright enough to realize that there is land which can and should be preserved as agricultural area because it’s not suited for growth. But that decision should be made locally and in such a manner that when things change – as they always do – we have the flexibility to adapt rather than be tied down because someone in Annapolis (or Washington, or at the United Nations) thought we should place thousands of acres off-limits to development because they feel it would be nice to construct a wildlife corridor down the Eastern Shore.
If an area doesn’t grow, it shrivels and dies. I like to look at old maps and ponder what happened to villages such as those I grew up around in Ohio: towns like Ai (yes, that’s the name), Lytton, Whitesville, Seward, and many other specks on the map were once prosperous enough to be considered a town but somewhere along the line something changed. Perhaps the railroad chose a different route, or the major highway passed them by. In many cases, business and industry failed or departed for greener pastures.
Essentially, the glue which holds the bulk of the Eastern Shore together comes from the products of farmers and watermen. Yet those who run our state continue to make life more and more miserable for them with the only question being whether this effort is a subconscious one, or purely intentional with the aim to conform our little slice of the world with their dream of control over our lives.
Consider that much of the problem with Chesapeake Bay – aside from the fact we’re dealing with a group which will move the goalposts if we ever approach their idea of cleanliness in order to continue their reason for being – comes from those urban areas these environmentalist do-gooders want us to emulate, and it makes me wonder why they want the rest of us to live that way.