Patriots for Delaware meet at Range Time

I’m sure there are critics who would believe it was appropriate for a conservative-leaning group to meet at the extreme edge of the state, and indeed if you walked across Bethel Road from Range Time you would find yourself in the wilds of Maryland. But the local (and relatively new) indoor gun range was the locale for a tent meeting for the Patriots for Delaware on Tuesday night.

The space owned by Range Time afforded it plenty of room to set up the tent and a few tables, and park a batch of cars aside from its own parking lot. The owners of the firing range have become enthusiastic backers of the Patriots for Delaware.

I said a few weeks back that if the Patriots for Delaware found themselves out Laurel way I may have to stop by and see what the fuss was about. Gumboro is close enough, plus I wanted to check out the building anyway. (Alas, I never made it inside.)

One thing I found out is that this group is very creative. I should have taken a couple steps closer to this sign table, but this was meant to be sort of an overall test shot because of the long shadows. Turns out it makes my point.

(Notice they had quite a bit already in the donation box, too.)

It’s hard to read at this level of detail, but here is what some of these signs say:
“Patriots for Delaware: United in Liberty” (Pretty evergreen.)
“Defund Police? Disarm Citizens? Empower Criminals? No thank you! Vote NO on SB3 & SB6!” (These are “gun control” bills before the Delaware General Assembly.)
“Office Space Available: Contact your Representatives and Senators for Details.” (This refers to the virtual meetings the General Assembly has held since last March.)

They have a lot of good ones besides those for supporting small business, reforming education, and so forth.

One thing I was remiss in capturing was the presence of a couple vendors there as well as a hot dog stand. So there was dinner available if you didn’t mind hot dogs, chips, and a pop.

Here’s another sign that, if the print weren’t so small and the photographer was thinking about it, would give you an idea of where the Patriots for Delaware stand. This was my shot to check lighting in the tent, and unfortunately that was about as good as I was going to get.

It’s definitely unfortunate I didn’t get a closeup of the sign; then again it’s the same objective as you see on their website.

Truly, what they had to say was more important than whether I took good photos or not – after all, there were probably 75 to 100 people who took time out of a Tuesday night to attend.

This was an initial shot of the crowd. They took the back flaps off the tent so the people outside could see better. By the way, the gentleman in the blue seated next to the pole is Sussex County Council member John Rieley, whose district we were in (it’s also mine.) He spoke briefly during the Q & A portion at the end, or else I wouldn’t have known him.

After an opening prayer which beseeched His help for “a nation in need,” we we introduced to the group’s concept by its co-leaders, Glenn Watson, Jr. and Bill Hopkins. This is made necessary because each meeting has such a high proportion of new faces, in part because they move around the state.

The group was “brought about with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in mind,” said Hopkins, who added that the government was not doing its job of guaranteeing it. “If we don’t do something, we’ll have nothing,” Bill continued, noting as well that “we have to forget about this party thing.” Patriots for Delaware was out to attract members from all the parties who agreed on their core concepts.

When it was Glenn’s turn he added that earlier that Tuesday the group was active at the Legislative Hall rally, where they called on our General Assembly to resume public meetings instead of the Zoom meetings that are held inside the hall, with the public locked out. Reopening the legislature was just one of its current priorities, but it also went along with a list of bills they were working to favor or oppose – mostly the latter. (We received a handout of their legislative agenda.)

An interesting sidebar was learning that State Sen. Dave Lawson has been doing the Zoom meetings from his legislative office, with Tuesday’s meeting having the added feature of sign bearers in his background calling on the state to return to “Leg Hall.”

The Patriots for Delaware approach was that of working from the bottom up, which made the slew of school board elections ongoing around the state a key point of interest. The group was in the process of sending out detailed questionnaires to candidates around the state with an eye on endorsing ones they saw fit. There were about three candidates already so endorsed, although none locally.

But there was more to the school boards than just elections. As a rule, their meetings are lightly attended by the public (perhaps by design) but members were working to ferret out waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. “We need people to make this happen,” said Glenn, so the group was looking for volunteers to attend school board meetings. Something I learned from the chair of their education committee is that the big roadblock to fully opening up schools is the limit in bus capacity.

It should be noted that the first third to half of the meeting was going through committee reports from several of their seven committee chairs. There were actually four other scheduled speakers: the well-received and popular 2020 GOP gubernatorial candidate Julianne Murray, Mike Jones of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (naturally, since the event was being held at a firing range), Jim Startzman of the Delaware State Sportsmen Association (ditto), and Larry Mayo of the Institute on the Constitution.

Murray, who announced last week she was filing suit in federal court to get the Delaware General Assembly back to meeting in person with public access, noted that while she was glancing behind her to the 2020 election and questions about it, she was more focused on 2022 – an election where we will need hundreds of volunteer poll watchers.

In the meantime, she urged those assembled to beseech the Republicans in the Delaware House to stop HB75, which would allow the DGA to set election terms (basically, codifying a repeat of 2020.) “We’ve got to be smart going into 2022,” she said, “and HB75 is huge.”

Before heading out to tend to a family matter, Murray hinted that her next campaign may not be a second try for governor in 2024, but running against incumbent Attorney General Kathy Jennings next year.

Jones introduced those attending to the USCCA, which provides legal representation to its members in the case of a self-defense incident, while Startzman detailed that his group would be gearing up for lawsuits against the gun grabbing legislation being considered in the General Assembly. For that, they need members and donations.

Mayo revealed that his latest class of IotC graduates would matriculate this week and a new 12-week course would begin next week in Milford. (It’s also available online and on DVD. I guess you don’t get the fancy graduation ceremony.)

Lastly, we had the Q and A portion, which featured an interesting revelation from the aforementioned Councilman Rieley.

Recently Sussex County settled a lawsuit where the plaintiffs contended the county was shortchanging schools because they had not reassessed property since 1974. Rather than fight it, the county agreed to do a three-year assessment at a cost of $10 million.

Of course, people worry about their taxes increasing, but Rieley told those assembled that the goal was revenue neutrality as rates would be reduced. The “maximum” one’s taxes could increase was 10 percent, although he noted some in the western portion of the county may see a decrease. (The increase would likely fall on those in the rapidly-developing eastern half of the county.) Additionally, he promised, “we are not going to be raising taxes anytime soon.” (Then again, for the most part Sussex County simply serves as a pass-through for the state, so they can be blamed.)

I gotta admit, I was a little rusty on the note-taking part of the meeting, but it was an interesting hour and a half that went by quickly. (I couldn’t sleep anyway – it got a bit nippy in that tent once the sun went down.) The next meeting (set for next Tuesday, April 27) isn’t too far down the pike from me in Greenwood, so if my calendar is clear I may head that way. If you are a Delaware resident “barely left of militia” like I am, or even somewhat closer to the center, this is an interesting grassroots group to follow.

A supportive Second Amendment solution

Some days I impress myself. So as not to let good writing go to waste, I’m going to extend some remarks in this forum.

My Congressional representative that I’m saddled with, Lisa Blunt Rochester, came up with this pablum today:

We, as a country, should be ashamed by this graphic. I remain committed to supporting common sense gun violence prevention policies and to ending this scourge.

Social media post by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, April 16, 2021.
May be an image of map and text that says 'Gresham MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE PAST MONTH Stockton Cleveland Orange Essex Philadelphia Baltimore River Grove Chicago Indianapolis Boulder Memphis Aliceville Dallas Yazoo City Houston Atlanta Washington, DC Norfolk Virginia Beach Tuscaloosa Wilmington CNNI NEWSROOM'

So I wrote this in response (no blockquote here):

The key to “ending this scourge” isn’t in “common sense gun violence prevention policies” – at least not those expressed by draconian gun laws that infringe on our rights. Problem is, though, the solution is not a quick fix so you can’t run on “doing something about it.”

When the value of life is cheapened to that of pixels on a video game and the culture is such that any slight needs to be addressed with getting a gun and shooting someone, that is the problem.

For decades, rural kids grew up around guns and had access to them, but you didn’t hear about mass shootings despite their proliferation because they were given a moral foundation that taught respect for life and for others. That’s been lost in this world of today, and I think it’s the “participation trophy” generation at fault. I grew up in a rural area and have plenty of respect for weapons because I know the damage they can do if misused.

We are not always going to get our way in life. The Indianapolis shooting sounds like many others: a combination of perceived slights and lack of ability to deal with failure or rejection by a troubled young man. He was going to go out in a blaze of glory and take those who he blamed for his problems with him. That’s not the fault of millions of law-abiding gun owners who use their guns for self-protection, hunting, etc.

Most of all, we need our guns to keep the government honest. The county sheriff where I used to live openly expressed his refusal to participate in any sort of gun confiscation program, saying he wouldn’t send his deputies out on a suicide mission. He was right, and that’s why there’s a Second Amendment – it makes tyrants think twice.

That may sound like a paranoid way of thinking, but I think I understand human nature and once a government gets a whiff of tyrannical power they don’t give it back easily.

*****

I also wanted to add that we have no idea how the perpetrator got his gun and he’s not alive anymore to speak to the subject, going out in the “blaze of glory” I referred to above. Something tells me he probably got it legally, falling in the cracks of the system we have due to his young age (although it depends on what he used as a weapon – only rifles and shotguns are legal for purchase for those over 18 but under 21.)

Should we be ashamed by the graphic? Actually, we should because we are failing ourselves as a society when we confuse a means to preserve our life with a means to end those of others. The shame isn’t in the tool but in the attitude, since we will never know just how many with access to a gun who got angry or frustrated enough to go out and shoot whoever thought better of it when they remembered the life lesson that death is forever and life can be better tomorrow once the situation blows over. That’s what faith is about.

I doubt many of these mass shooters were right with God, but as long as we all breathe life there’s always the opportunity to become so. At that point we realize we have a tool for self-defense, feeding the family, and keeping would-be tyrants in line.

Who should do the rebuilding?

The word of the month seems to be “infrastructure.” Everyone seems to think we need the federal government to put up billions and trillions of dollars of money we don’t have to do stuff we probably don’t really need, such as “clean energy.” (Regular old not quite as clean energy already created millions of jobs, some of which the current administration is hellbent on losing.)

One group which has laid the guilt trip on thick is one you may expect: the Alliance for American Manufacturing. I wasn’t sure if this was a pitch for their cause or for fundraising (not that they need any since I’m sure most of their funding comes from union dues and affiliated industry groups.)

Did you see the news out of Florida?

Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate near Tampa Bay this weekend because a leak had sprung at a wastewater reservoir. It threatened to unleash hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water, potentially causing a “catastrophic flood.”

Imagine having to evacuate your home because of a potential flood of toxic water.

While the exact cause of the leak is not yet known, the failure of critical infrastructure like this is, sadly, not a surprise. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave U.S. wastewater systems a “D+” grade, and the situation in Florida is just another example of the real-life consequences of America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Nearly 200 people died earlier this year in Texas when the state’s power grid failed during winter storms. Hundreds of thousands of people in Jackson, Mississippi were left without clean drinking water for weeks after storms wreaked havoc on the city’s water infrastructure.

It shouldn’t be like this – and it doesn’t have to be like this.

“Deadly Power Outages. A Potential ‘Catastrophic Flood.’ No Drinking Water. Enough is enough!” E-mail from AAM, April 6, 2021. (Emphasis in original.)

You’re right, it doesn’t have to be like this. But it certainly doesn’t need to be a top-down solution with funding doled out to the favored and connected, either.

After reading a little bit about the issue in Florida, it appears the state is going to pay for the cleanup – out of federal money they received from the stimulus program. (So the state is really not paying for it.) Of course, the owner of the facility in question is bankrupt so they couldn’t deal with it even if they were found liable for the breach in the reservoir liner.

And then you have the Texas situation, which was one where the utilities cut a corner, figuring they would never have to put up with such a storm – until they did. It’s one of those cases where the state will probably chase some good money after bad, doing what the utilities probably should have done to little effect since they likely won’t have another bad winter storm like that for decades. It’s probably the same thing in Jackson, Mississippi, except I’m sure local ratepayers have been funding the needed repairs for decades. It just sounds like they didn’t get the needed repairs, which makes me wonder just what they spent the money on.

And so on and so forth. Look, we have a need for infrastructure improvements, but the problem is that very little of this Biden proposal actually goes to infrastructure. If you want more infrastructure funding, it’s not about who supplies the coin so much as it is about spending it efficiently. If you want more bang for the infrastructure buck, there are a couple quick ways of doing so: eliminate the layers of environmental review which get used as a delaying tactic by the NIMBYs of the world, and repeal the Davis-Bacon wage rates so that contractors aren’t chained to sky-high labor costs. That’s just two quick ways of getting more repair and less red tape.

Sadly, we’ll get the stuff we don’t need and the bill to boot.

The state of a non-state, 2021 edition

Four years ago, thanks to a rant by Delaware writer friend of mine by the name of Chris Slavens, I had the idea come to me of figuring out just how a state of Delmarva would have voted. It turned out we would be perhaps the most purple state in the country based on the 2016 election and how the legislature would stack up.

But because the 2020 election had a home state nominee in Joe Biden, the state of Delmarva (or you could call it New Delaware) would have been a more bluish shade this time around – that was expected. But that trend carried over in other portions of the ballot, too.

There are a few caveats with this, of course: because the three states which share Delmarva have their local elections at different times, the results downballot aren’t necessarily congruent to a real election. But having kept my 2016 spreadsheet around I could pick out some interesting trends.

Still, if Delmarva had a statewide election, the “native son” (even though he was born in Pennsylvania) Joe Biden would have carried the state, although perhaps not as convincingly as one may think:

  • Joe Biden (Democrat) 402,229 – 53.00%
  • Donald Trump (incumbent Republican) 343,352 – 45.24%
  • Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 8,155 – 1.07%
  • Howie Hawkins (Green Party) 3,280* – 0.43%
  • all others 1,950 – 0.26%

*Hawkins was not on the Virginia ballot, which may have lost him about 140 votes based on how he ran elsewhere.

Despite picking up about 23,000 more votes in the twelve counties that make up Delmarva, Donald Trump was swamped by a candidate in Joe Biden who found nearly 80,000 more votes in the heretofore tri-state area – including a hefty 32,000 in New Castle County alone (where Trump gained less than 3,000 votes.) Sussex County chipped in another 17,000 or so extra toward Biden’s total as he outpolled Hillary Clinton’s 2016 effort in all 12 counties. Donald Trump beat his 2016 performance as well in each county, but in some cases it was an improvement of less than 1,000 votes.

If you recall my 2017 article, the only two counties Hillary carried were the largest, northernmost (New Castle County, Delaware) and the smallest, southernmost (Northampton County, Virginia.) Biden kept those in his column but also flipped three that were more in the middle: Kent County, Delaware, Kent County, Maryland, and Talbot County, Maryland.

Because there was no Senate race in Maryland last year, I used the three Congressional races on the Shore as a surrogate for that race as well as the one House race that Delmarva would have. When I wrote this in 2017, I figured Delmarva would have a second seat with the extra population Delaware does not have, but a closer examination of population reveals the 12 counties have 1,474,465 people (per 2019 estimates) and the average Congressional district has just over 750,000. So Delmarva is roughly 50,000, give or take, short of qualifying.

However, if the math did happen to favor the state of Delmarva and there could be two members of Congress, the most logical district split would put New Castle, Cecil, all of Kent County, Maryland, and the northern fringes of Kent County, Delaware into one district (that would be a fairly safe Democrat district despite the heavily Republican pocket of Cecil County) while the rest would be a pretty strong Republican district notwithstanding some sag on the mid-Shore, in Wicomico County, and at the southern end of Delmarva in Virginia.

As for a statewide Delmarva Senate seat, that contest would also go to the Democrats:

  • D total 380,827 – 51.64%
  • R total 345,305 – 46.82%
  • L total 3,814* – 0.52%
  • all others 7,551 – 1.02%

*The Libertarian Party only had a Congressional candidate in Delaware.

In reality, having a much larger than average Congressional district in Delaware with a Democrat incumbent easily outweighed the similar victory Andy Harris picked up in Maryland (in the Eastern Shore half of his district.) Meanwhile, Virginia’s numbers were too small to matter and as a matter of fact had a margin of just 69 votes favoring the Republican. The Democrats only carried three counties of the twelve, but flipping Kent County, Delaware helped put them over the top.

We also elected a governor here in Delaware, which gave the state an advantage in a mythical Delmarva governor’s race that combined the 2020 results in Delaware, the 2018 balloting in Maryland, and 2017 race in Virginia to get the following results:

  • D total 340,257 – 49.94%
  • R total 329,552 – 48.37%
  • L total 4,583 – 0.67%
  • Green total 686* – 0.1%
  • Others total 6,258* – 0.92%

*There was no Green Party candidate in Virginia or Delaware. As for Others, the vast majority of that came from the Independent Party of Delaware candidate.

This was a turnout election, so the advantage went to the Democrats who won Delaware in the 2020 Presidential election over the Republicans who took Maryland in the lower turnout 2018 midterm.

Yet the Democrat success should not come as a surprise: voter registration still favors them by 11 1/2 points:

  • Democrat RV: 468,180 – 42.94% (down 0.3% from 2016)
  • Republican RV: 342,597 – 31.42% (up 0.32% from 2016)
  • All other RV: 279,645 – 25.65% (down o.01% from 2016)

Bear in mind that non-affiliated number includes the 34,281 voters in Virginia who don’t declare a party. But the interesting factoid here is that Somerset County flipped from Democrat to Republican insofar as plurality of voter registration is concerned over the last four years – the only county of the twelve to switch.

The other big change in the last four years would have been a shift in the mythical Delmarva Senate, which would have gone from a 13-13 tie to a 15-11 Democrat control thanks (most recently) to the loss of two Republican seats in Delaware. The ersatz Delmarva House would slide from a 28-26 GOP edge to a 27-27 tie thanks to a Delaware loss in 2018. Talk about swing votes!

But what if there were another way? The one weakness with my method is that I have a lot of small districts in Delaware (less than 25,000 for House and 50,000 for Senate) but much larger districts in Maryland (about 50,000 for House and 150,000 for Senate) and Virginia, where the Eastern Shore is less than half a House district, let alone their Senate. So the state of Delaware is way overrepresented in this model.

Since this is my fantasy, I decided to use a federal model and give each of the counties two state Senators (screw the incorrect SCOTUS decision of Reynolds v. Sims), which means the 28 Senators would likely work out to be a sizeable Republican majority (on the order of 18-10) because New Castle County only gets two. Using a model like Delaware’s, with about two House members per Senator, the House count would be about 29-27 Republican but with a lot of potential flipping in several areas, making local elections become greatly important. This divided government would mean ideas from the GOP legislature would have to be appealing enough for the Democrat governor to become law (since there’s not a vetoproof majority in the House and perhaps not the Senate.)

Either way, it’s a fairly safe bet that, having a state of Delmarva, you would not see the radical left-wing nonsense that seems to be ruining both the state of Maryland (over the Eastern Shore’s objections) and Delaware (because there’s outsized influence from one liberal county that has over half the state’s population.) Even with the slight trend to the left based on 2016-20 results, this state would perhaps have the most interesting politics on the East Coast.

Let’s make a deal: Maryland gets the retrocession of Washington, D.C. while they give up the Eastern Shore to become part of Delaware. (Virginia just forgets about its Eastern Shore half the time, anyway, so if we grabbed that, too, they wouldn’t miss it until it was too late.) We could make the new Delaware into a great state – all without messing up the American flag.

The replacement?

For many years I have been on the e-mail list for a group called the 9/12 Delaware Patriots. From time to time their events and announcements have graced my pages – beginning way back with this notice in 2012, ironically on 12/12/12. According to their social media page, the group began the 9/12 Delaware Patriots page back in August, 2009 – a time when the overall TEA Party movement was at its organizational peak.

Yet over the last year or so it seems like the group has run out of steam, with a little bit of help (or call it bad luck.) For several years, the 9/12 Delaware Patriots would hold two monthly meetings, generally with the same speakers for each: one in Sussex County and the other intended for Kent and New Castle counties. But that was before the pandemic hit and eliminated the prospect for monthly public gatherings at the local restaurants which they generally used.

Back in the Zoom meeting days of last spring, I sat in on one of their monthly meetings only to find fewer than a dozen denizens. It was a bummer because I was looking forward to seeing what they were about as we had just become Delaware residents, three years or so after our original intention. And it’s strange: their social media page remains a hotbed of activity despite the dearth of meetings.

Over the last few months, though, their position seems to have been supplanted by a new group called Patriots for Delaware (P4D.) The upstarts are now boasting a social media membership into five figures, dwarfing the reach of the 9/12 group that remains in the 1,600 range. (Since both are private pages, though, this may be intentional on the part of 9/12.) P4D also claimed that a recent meeting drew 150 attendees, which is a phenomenal turnout for a political event not featuring a candidate. (As a comparison, even in the heady days of the TEA Party a decade ago, meetings of our local Salisbury area Americans for Prosperity or Maryland Society of Patriots groups seldom drew more than about 50, and averaged 25 or so.)

Meanwhile, the last event I heard about that was sponsored by the 9/12 group was the bus trip they took to the Capitol rally on January 6. Since then, it’s been almost three months out of the public eye so I decided to ask them if they had gone on hiatus.

My request for information was answered by their president Karen Gritton, who advised me that, indeed, the group was at something of a crossroads.

Gritton told me that she had gone to a P4D meeting, saying, “they seem to be very similar to the 9/12 and very well attended at present.” Unfortunately, she also confided that she could not continue as 9/12’s president and no one on the board was in a position to take over for Gritton. Their next steps would be considered at an upcoming board meeting. “We may be at a turning point where we will restructure,” she conceded.

Having been in that sort of position a couple times myself, I can feel for Gritton’s plight. So what interested me was why the leadership of P4D didn’t just come in to the existing group, and their co-founder Glenn Watson, Jr. let me know:

9/12 is a group that mostly focuses on 2A issues, whereas our vision was much more broad.  At Patriots for Delaware we strive to focus on all Constitutional Values, and attempt to do so in a way that attracts moderates from both side of the aisle.  Being a “Patriot” is not limited to those that affiliate with the political right.  We felt that having a well organized group was very important and starting from the ground up allowed us to do that.  We clearly took inspiration from 9/12 but ultimately, our missions are not identical, so it made sense to start our own organization.  We wish 9/12 great success and hope to work with them on issues where we share common ground.

e-mail from Glenn Watson, Jr., March 30, 2021.

I don’t think the 9/12 group was overly focused on the Second Amendment myself, but that’s just me. Among patriots the gun issue tends to be among those they are most passionate about, and ironically there is a sharp focus on the P4D page on 2A issues right now as the Delaware General Assembly debates more useless gun legislation.

Anyway, one other interesting facet of P4D is the organizational chart they’re already come up with, one which features several committees on various topics (member outreach, political action, finance, critical thinking, press/visual arts, and education) and creates a seven-member board of directors who breaks the tie if the two co-founders disagree on a course of action. It’s a rather mature setup for a group that’s less than a year old.

But I want to come back to something Watson said that caught my eye: “Being a ‘Patriot’ is not limited to those that affiliate with the political right.”

Back in the day, probably about the time when I was still sharing a bedroom with a bunk bed and crib for me and my two brothers in the little two-bedroom house that was the starter home for my parents, politics stopped at the water’s edge and everybody loved America. Certainly Republicans and Democrats disagreed on the direction and role of government, but the rank-and-file of both sides pretty much shared the same values insofar as the idea of America being the shining city on the hill that was later publicized by Ronald Reagan (who famously was a Democrat until the party left him.)

The split over Vietnam, where the youth of America became antiwar protestors and dodged the draft, seemed to be the schism that set us on the course to where we are today. Those on the Left who sympathized with the Jane Fondas of the world also began dabbling in a number of other political venues which separated us out: abortion, gay rights, unchecked immigration, and the attitude that America was no better than any other nation regardless of philosophy and how they treated their people. To them, the banana republic with the tinhorn dictator was just as worthy as we were on the world stage.

Of course, I was way too young at the time to really understand at the time what the college kids were upset about. I barely remember Walter Cronkite telling us “that’s the way it is” after my mom and dad watched him and the local 6:00 news. And I’m probably the last generation who went to public school yet was still told of America’s greatness, warts and all. Watergate didn’t bother me because I had no idea what was going on – I was more interested in the ballgame my Little League team would be playing that week.

So I would tend to disagree with their assessment to some extent because few on the political Left subscribe to the notion that America is something to be patriotic about, but that’s just me.

If I were a betting man, I would suspect that the 9/12 Delaware Patriots have run their course – not because it was a bad organization, but it lost members who would become its leaders as they slowly drifted away over the last few years. One thing I’ve noticed about TEA Party groups: we’re not getting any younger. Perhaps this is something that Patriots for Delaware can address while they are the new, hip thing and create a subgroup called Young Patriots for Delaware. (Even better would be a third group: College Patriots for Delaware.)

Say what you will about the party structure, but it works: I wasn’t a College Republican, but I was a Young Republican for several years in the mid- to late 1990s, culminating with being president of the Toledo YRs in 2000. (And I speak from experience: after I left, the group went on a hiatus for a year or two until new young people revitalized it.) But those College Republicans oftentimes become Young Republicans, and the YRs move up to be the leadership and candidates of the party once (or many times before) they age out. The same should hold true of other political groups, and right now we need young conservative Patriot leaders to counter the indoctrination our youth is being disserved.

That’s also why education should become our new pet issue. I’m not sure which committee gets that idea, but it definitely should go in the Patriot hopper.

If the Patriots for Delaware comes Laurel way, I may just stop in and see what the fuss is about. And if the 9/12 Patriots somehow revitalize their group, hopefully it will be when the state opens up so I can enjoy the experience.

How the First State stacks up

I happened to notice a map in doing some other research that showed states which would be gaining or losing Congressional seats thanks to the 2020 census. As one might expect, Texas and Florida will be big winners while the biggest losers will be Ohio and New York – and for the first time in decades (if not ever) California will not gain a seat this time.

Of course, Delaware, which is still checking in with fewer than a million residents, will remain a puny three electoral vote state since the representative population per district is roughly 750,000 and we’re nowhere close to a million and a half. (Now add in the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia to create a greater Delaware and we are right there. That reminds me of a post I need to do, too.)

But this will also be the time that we re-apportion our state into its 41 House and 21 Senate districts. It’s not a clean division, as a handful of districts cut between county lines.

In the Senate, however, New Castle County has 12 full and one partial Senate district after the 2010 count, while Kent County has three full and two partial (sharing one apiece with New Castle and Sussex) and Sussex has four full and one partial. In 2010 one district moved from New Castle to Sussex, and this time Sussex should be due again to have five full districts as they have almost exactly 1/4 of the state’s population. Between Sussex and Kent counties they should have nine full districts, as a small portion of Sussex could be folded into the large fraction of a district Kent should get along with three full districts. That leaves New Castle with 12 full districts, and ideally only the one should be split between Kent and Sussex.

In the House, New Castle has 24 full and one partial district, but that number should decline by one based on the population trends. Sussex should return to 10 full seats (where they were for the previous decade) while Kent will retain the last seven seats.

So like the federal redistricting seems to be shifting southward, so should the state’s. It may help a little in 2022, although the interesting question is which Democrat machine politicians in New Castle will be lumped together in a district created because they gained population more slowly than the rest of the state. (Or, will they finagle the districts to keep an extra one they don’t deserve, which may well be the case.)

I don’t think they’ll do too much with my district since I live close to the corner of the state in a rural area, but it will be interesting to see how they subdivide the more populated section of Sussex County.

The local impact races

Longtime readers of monoblogue may recall that, for years, one of the goals my cohorts and I on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee had was to change our county’s school board from all-appointed to all-elected. (Over the years I had a lot to say about the subject, such as this appeal to the public and this one to opponents.) And there were extremely good reasons for this.

At the time, Wicomico County was one of just a few counties in Maryland still relying on the appointment system, which was a convoluted process for us on those occasions where we had some input: because it was dictated that the party in the governor’s office would have four of the seven WCBOE seats and since turnover was so slow (as members served five-year terms) there were just a few years where we had the task while our friends on the Democrat Central Committee had the other years.

In order to facilitate the process when it was a Republican’s turn, the WCRCC would first find out if the board member could be re-appointed (since they were eligible to serve two terms, and often did – which was one reason turnover was slow.) I think there was only one time where we sought to appoint a non-incumbent in place of someone who could have been re-appointed, but assuming a new person was needed we would screen several applicants and send a name or two to the Secretary of Appointments – who would generally laugh and select the person our local elected officials in the General Assembly preferred (a person who didn’t necessarily go through our process.) It got to the point where the Democrats were demanding they get to interview “our” appointments because they were the ones who made the selection (at the time, Maryland was saddled with Martin O’Malley and his hand-picked Secretary of Appointments.) For all we know they did since it often wasn’t the person we chose who got appointed.

Of course, being in charge for many years meant the Democrats liked the process so they were the ones who resisted the change since it needed enabling legislation in the General Assembly. We had three giant roadblocks for the first eight years I was on the CC: Rick Pollitt (who was County Executive), and Delegates Rudy Cane and Norm Conway. Once all three of them were eliminated in the 2014 election, the process to finally getting an elected school board went very quickly and, despite a last-ditch effort by local Democrats to install a “hybrid” board of five elected and two appointees, the majority of voters in 2016 demanded an all-elected school board. (To his credit, our then-State Senator, Democrat Jim Mathias, was generally – if not necessarily completely – supportive to our efforts.)

Now I’m not going to lie to you and say the school board elections have turned out as I would have hoped, but the accountability is there and the system seems to work well – it was tested early with the sad passing of David Goslee, Sr., who was one of the loudest proponents of an elected school board (as a fellow member of the WCRCC) and barely (as in by ONE vote out of over 6,000 cast) won his seat in the first election – only to die in office shortly afterward. Interestingly enough, including Goslee, three of my former mates on the WCRCC were elected in the first school board balloting in 2018.

All that is a 500-plus word prologue to my main point: here in Delaware, they have long won the fight we waged for a decade or more in Wicomico, electing school boards for years. With that in mind, this May my district in Laurel has one of just two elections in the state where four participants are chasing one (open, since the incumbent chose not to seek re-election) seat. (The other one is in the Brandywine school district, which is much larger population-wise being on the northern outskirts of Wilmington hard by the PA line but has sub-districts. Ours is an at-large seat.) Out of 15 districts in Delaware having elections (a total of 20 elections, including sub-districts) there are just the two elections with four candidates, three with three, eight with two, and seven where just one person filed.

The one thing that I don’t like about Delaware’s system, though, is that it’s rather activist-proof: our five-member board only turns over one person at a time, so it would take three years for a correctly-minded majority to hold sway. Moreover, to make the most rapid reform, you have to win three elections in a row, which eliminates the element of surprise to opponents such as the teachers’ union. A gang election like Wicomico’s can be ambushed rather easily, but this can’t.

Since I voted over the summer in the 2020 rendition (which had three candidates, including the incumbent who lost) I also know this is a non-partisan election like Wicomico County’s school board election is.

My insider friend gave me the skinny on some of these candidates, and I’ve gleaned a little more from briefly scoping out social media.

The first to file was David B. Nichols. And I said to myself, “that name sounds familiar.” Reason being: a D. Brent Nichols ran last year and was the sole incumbent in the entire state to lose. After two terms, apparently voters had had enough but it seems he doesn’t agree – so he’s going to try and fool the voters into voting for new blood? (Honestly, I thought maybe this was his son or something.)

Next in line was Diane M. Snow, who my insider posited was a “come here” based on the phone number provided. It was another name that sounded vaguely familiar, and what stuck out at me in looking her up was her strong support for U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke (presuming it’s the same person, of course.) If so, that is intriguing: I wonder how that translates into school-related issues?

Third is Ivy Bonk, who I was told was a former principal at a local Christian school, so that lends interest, too. I looked her up on LinkedIn and indeed, there is an Ivy Bonk fitting that description so I guess that’s her.

Last is Joseph Deiter, who my source didn’t know well enough to comment on. But a person with that name is on social media and it looks like he’s active as a youth coach.

I think what I’m looking for is a person who will carry a discussion of what public schools really should be. They should be strongly in favor of school choice and money following the child, even if it hurts the local school district in the short-term until they improve enough to compete with private schools and homeschooling. It wouldn’t bother me in the least if they were on the losing end of a lot of 4-1 votes this year so long as they are on the winning end of 3-2 votes two years hence – in other words, they have to be the tip of the spear.

And if that wasn’t enough, the town of Laurel has its own elections on March 25. (I don’t live within town limits, though, so I’m just an observer.) One interesting quirk about its election is that they have a separate registration, which is something they plan on addressing going forward. (In the meantime, anyone who lives in Laurel has until this Thursday to be registered.) Initially four positions were up for grabs, but since two of them only had one filing those lucky souls (both incumbents, by the way) win by acclamation. There is one Council seat (which appears to be an open seat with no incumbent) and the Mayor’s office, where the incumbent mayor has a challenger, still in contention so the whole town gets to vote. Let’s hope they do.

Misdirection

Once again, I will caution readers that the reason I never had a big desire to run for high political office was that I hate asking strangers for money. But I was alerted to an investigation into the financial windfall a company servicing GOP Congressional candidate Kim Klacik received.

Granted, this investigation was done by the Washington Post, and they’re not going to shine a favorable light on any Republican, especially an overtly Trump-supporting minority GOP member like Klacik. But I’ll play along because it leads to another point.

As you may recall from last summer, Klacik became the “it girl” among Republican House candidates thanks to a viral ad she had shot on location in the slums of Baltimore, blaming the decades of Democrat leadership for the decrepit and hopeless conditions. It was a turn of Donald Trump’s “what the hell do you have to lose?” question to black voters, which make up the majority in Klacik’s district thanks to much of it being in Baltimore City.

Yet according to the Post:

By the end of Klacik’s campaign, she would raise a staggering $8.3 million and pay nearly $3.7 million of it to Olympic Media, according to campaign finance filings and her campaign manager. Klacik, now a frequent Fox News and Newsmax commentator, lost to Mfume in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District by more than 40 percentage points.

“Donors gave a House candidate more than $8 million. A single firm took nearly half of it.” Meagan Flynn and Michael Scherer, Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

The fact that she raised $8.3 million for the race based on a viral ad may be scary enough, but then considering nearly half of it went to a consultant made it worse. This reaches back to a subject for which I sometimes kick myself for not devoting more pages to it in The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and that is the effect of scam PACs, particularly in the later years of the movement. This comes from the chapter of my book called “The TEA Party Is Dead”:

The incessant fundraising off TEA Party regulars, who skewed heavily toward those 60 and over and who had the disposable income to use for political causes, made consultants – a group of characters who often countered that doing mass e-mail appeals wasn’t as cheap as those on the outside of the business thought – fabulously wealthy for next to no effort, while achieving little to assist actual candidates who could have used the funds if they were given directly. Oftentimes less than 10% of the money raised by a PAC would go toward candidates, with much larger amounts used to pay for more fundraising.

The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, p.129.

I gave the subject about a page and a half, but in retrospect it probably deserved at least twice as much. This is particularly true because Klacik, as revealed in the Post story, is another failed candidate who has began a PAC of her own, called the Red Renaissance PAC. (Just like Lauren Witzke here in Delaware.) So she will be yet another grifter taking her cut instead of moving the money where it belongs, and I think that greed is what stunted the growth of the TEA Party. Imagine if that scam PAC money had instead assisted local candidates, who may have won races they lost had they had the additional funding that instead found its way into some consultant’s bank account. Instead of paying for 100 yard signs, donors to scam PACs paid for Mr. Consultant’s yard work to be done.

There was another reason this came to mind: many Delaware school districts have at least one seat on their board of education coming up for election this spring. In my little school district, the one open seat has attracted four candidates as the incumbent decided to forgo another term. What do you think a couple dozen people of like mind donating $100 apiece could do to a candidate in a race like this where winners seldom spend more than a few thousand dollars as opposed to a Congressional election where that group of 24 is outspent by some corporate PAC that donates the maximum?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you want to donate to a candidate, skip the middleman of a PAC and send it directly. (Or, even better, be a volunteer for them.) It will do the most good for the people who really need it.

A waste of energy (and money)

I’ve been mulling this post over long enough to have it almost lose relevance because the initial subject matter became law a week or so ago. (Then it got pushed back once again with the passing of Rush Limbaugh.) Originally I was going to post about Delaware’s Senate Bill 33, an ill-considered measure that both extends and expands the renewable energy portfolio that Delaware (among many other non-thinking states) is saddled with. Now we are supposed to have 40% of our energy come from renewable sources by 2035.

How it really works, however, is that the state’s utilities fork over money to the state (via a market-style entity) in lieu of attaining the percentage required. For example, I’m a customer of the Delaware Electric Co-op, which has a shade over 100,000 customers in the state. In recent years they have created a solar farm that now services up to 1,000 homes – but that’s still way short of the required 2.25% amount for the current regulations, let alone the future. I had the good news of a proposed 3% rate cut come with my bill last month, but I can see the state taking that away thanks to their waste of a bill.

(When you talk to an environmentalist wacko, remember these pertinent questions: what exactly is the optimum, average climate? And who’s to say we’re not on a trend toward it regardless of the folly of believing mankind can do a thing about changing that direction?)

What put this back first and foremost on my mind, though, was the situation in Texas. The Lone Star State has been walloped by a “once-in-a-century” winter storm this past weekend, leaving piles of snow and temperatures well below freezing all the way to the Mexican border. Their problem in this case is that the Texas electrical grid (which is pretty much self-contained) depends heavily on wind, solar, and natural gas for its power. Unfortunately, the wind turbines are frozen in place, the solar panels are under a foot of snow, and the natural gas isn’t moving through the pipeline system at the necessary quantity to make up the shortfall from the lack of wind power in particular. You could say it was the perfect storm.

(It’s interesting how the proponents of wind power try to shift the blame. Not to say it’s all wind’s fault, but they will probably be the last to recover.)

Of course, here in Delaware we are more accustomed to stormy weather in all seasons thanks to occasional snow storms, nor’easters, and tropical storms that come throughout the year. So unlike Texas, which bakes during their hot, steamy summers (great for solar, so-so for wind) and normally has temperate winters where wind energy can make a small dent, Delaware isn’t perfectly suited for either type of renewable. Yet the powers that be seem to be determined to waste acres of valuable farmland to create solar fields and wish to pollute the viewshed off our beaches with wind turbines that will need to be replaced in just a few decades. Again I note that once upon a time, windmills were what the farmers depended on – only to drop them like a bad habit once rural electrification became available. It was cost-effective and (most of all) more reliable.

We seem to have a backwards state here. Things which can be dependable sources of energy, such as natural gas or oil which may be available in commercially viable amounts offshore – well, we can’t even do the seismic testing to find out if there’s any there. But to site wind turbines – yeah, go right ahead even though it may be millions of dollars spent to power a few thousand homes.

Let’s face facts: if it weren’t for ill-advised carveouts like a “renewable energy portfolio” we wouldn’t be wasting our time dealing with solar or wind power. We could be conducting research into nuclear power and methods to make it more accessible, or exploring for new natural gas deposits. After all, we have to use those to back up the unreliable renewables that make running an electrical grid more unpredictable than it needs to be.

Instead of a Senate Bill 33, the smart play for Delaware would be to scrap those mandates entirely. But the Left can’t stand losing that sort of money or power, regardless of how much of a setback these restrictions provide to hard-working families trying to improve their lot.

The folly of pursuing ‘equity’

This is another of those posts that began as an odd or end, but thanks to subsequent events was promoted to become a full post.

A few weeks back I received my annual pitch from the American Institute of Architects to rejoin their august body. Bear in mind I was an AIA member for about a decade beginning when I received my architecture license in the mid-1990s until about a year or so after I moved down here. Unfortunately, the usefulness of the AIA Chesapeake Bay chapter was much less than that of AIA Toledo, so I allowed my membership to lapse.

Moreover, as the needs of the architecture business have remained relatively steady over the 35 years (!) since I embarked on my life’s journey in the profession, the AIA has departed significantly from those needs into the weeds of political correctness. One line in their pitch multifold postcard, under the heading of “Champion architects & the profession” summed this up well:

Government advocacy, a campaign to fight climate change and inequities in the built environment, and public awareness efforts influence meaningful change and create a better business landscape for architects.

AIA mailing.

The only government advocacy we need is to give us a decent statute of repose. (Delaware has one of the better ones at 6 years, while Maryland lags behind with 10.) I’d also be happy if they eliminated the unnecessary demands for continuing education, which was something the AIA advocated for when I was active in the group. Brick, stone, steel, and wood don’t change much, and any architect worth his salt should know the building codes pretty well despite the fact they update every three years. (I see CE as a money-making racket, just like the intern development program that’s now in place. That was the reason I took my exam when I did.)

So forget about climate change, since we can’t do a damn thing about it. What we can do is advocate for energy-efficient buildings but let’s allow the market to decide what is best. And my (admittedly limited) research into the term “inequities in the built environment” seems to indicate a preference for the concepts of so-called “smart growth” where everyone is to be packed like sardines into the urban core. Maybe some of us prefer and enjoy living in rural areas.

Finally, if you want to make things easier and more profitable for the architectural profession, can you advocate for fewer regulations and hoops to jump through? There are certain jurisdictions we deal with that seem to have cornered the market on red tape for picayune reasons. It’s almost like they demand their tribute before you get their seal of approval, and clients aren’t always willing to pay for our time and trouble.

Speaking of so-called climate change and hoops to jump through, I would love to have someone explain to me why Delaware is trying to extend these stupid wealth transfers from utilities to state coffers better known as renewable energy portfolio standards? In this session SB33 is already through the Senate, where it passed on a 13-8 vote that was almost partisan in nature (Senator Ennis crossed over to vote with the GOP, giving him an early lead on the Top Blue Dog Award next year when I do the monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware.)

If natural gas is cutting our emissions in such a way that we are exceeding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – even though we were properly out of it for a brief period until that fool Joe Biden painted “sucker” back on our collective forehead – then why are we even bothering with wind and solar power that is, on its face, unavailable at all hours of the day and times of the year? (For example, it’s a sunny day as I write this, but the sun angle isn’t optimal. And I haven’t even discussed the environmental issues when these components reach the end of their lifespan.) If anything, it may be a good time to do a little bit of exploration in Delaware to see if we have gas or oil deposits under our sandbar. It’s not likely the Marcellus Shale comes this far east, but somewhere along the line I thought I saw there was a minor shale field under the Eastern Shore and southern Delaware.

I like to live in a rural area and I like my electricity to be relatively inexpensive. So we really don’t need to have these so-called improvements that basically accrue to the state’s coffers and not ours come into our collective lives.

And now that I’ve done this post I can place my AIA solicitation where it properly belongs – in the circular file.

Becoming the loyal opposition

As the days of the Trump administration dwindle down to a precious few and the world is attempting to hoist him up on the petard of (so-called) insurrection, it’s clear that there are over 70 million Americans who are angry with the situation.

But let’s dispense with a few things first: the claims that Trump will return for another term after he declares martial law then drains the Swamp with thousands of arrests – ain’t gonna happen. Even if he uses the military, the size and scope of the necessary operation is such that SOMEONE would have leaked it out by now.

And it’s not just that: Trump doesn’t figure in the line of succession, even if you arrested Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi. It’s the same logic that said Hillary would be president if Trump was impeached and convicted. There’s just no Constitutional precedent for this – even in the midst of a civil war we held a Presidential election in 1864. We’ll never know, but would Abraham Lincoln have ceded power in March of 1865 had he lost?

There were originally going to be three main points to this post, but two of them have been taken care of in a different fashion. I liked Erick Erickson’s take on all the fake news that I alluded to above, so I encourage you to read it via The Patriot Post. My other writing home is also where the second part of this discourse ended up, regarding the fate of the Republican Party going forward. One key point:

Donald Trump was the candidate whose boldness on hot-button issues such as immigration and tax reform brought back those who became disillusioned when the Tea Party devolved to just another group of inside-the-Beltway grifters, and the Republican establishment cooled the fiery spirits of those the Tea Party helped to place in Congress.

“The Road Ahead for the GOP,” The Patriot Post, January 15, 2021

This was one of the longest pieces I’ve ever written for them because it’s a subject I am passionate about.

But in the wake of the purloined Presidential election and the catastrophe at the Capitol, people are probably shrugging their shoulders and resigning themselves to the end of our Republic, keeping their anger and passion inside to eat at them. Now I don’t have the overall surefire way to make you feel better, but perhaps it’s time to revisit what happened the last time we were in this situation.

Granted, the political landscape in 2021 is not really the same chessboard we were looking at in the dark winter of 2009. Back then we didn’t have the pervasiveness of social media to squelch the voices of conservatives nor did we have the upstream economic swimming made necessary by the ongoing CCP virus. (Of course, that will improve soon as Democrat governors finally decide that maybe, just maybe, they need to open up their state economies.) And that’s okay because perhaps this time we need to shift the focus to a smaller stage rather than try and play in a arena we’re not as familiar with. Complaining about federal spending and what would become Obamacare only delayed the inevitable twelve years ago because Tip O’Neill was right: all politics is local.

To that end, there is a trinity of issues which can be positively influenced at the local level in the near term, and in my opinion these are places the passion for Donald Trump can be well applied (or at least I think he would approve.) In at least one respect – the one I’m going to begin with – it’s not even necessarily political.

Support local small businesses.

This can be a lot easier said than done, particularly if you live in a rural area like I do. I have to admit we get a LOT of Amazon and Walmart boxes delivered to us, and the UPS truck is a regular sight around this area. On the flip side, though, we have a lot of small businesses that we can support in our town, particularly the restaurants. (I have my local favorite, and you should too. Patronize them often and leave good tips.)

The thing that is holding back businesses the most are the pandemic-inspired restrictions. I’m sure my local pizzeria would love to be able to open up all their seating despite their solid carry-out business. Initial mandates that favored big-box retailers as “essential” when their smaller counterparts – which often sold the same merchandise – were shut down led to the loss of millions of jobs and the perceived need to send out stimulus checks that are simply the gateway drug to the cherished regressive dream of a universal basic income. (Or, as Dire Straits once sang, Money for Nothing. I suppose it’s good the government hasn’t tried the chicks for free yet, because I could only imagine that disaster.)

I think if you asked the business owner who had to shut down whether they’d prefer the check or the business, 99% would be back in business. Seeing that the ice is beginning to break with some of these Democrats, perhaps it’s time to apply more pressure to Governor Carnage to end this so-called emergency and let businesses try to pick up the pieces.

Action items:

  • Patronize local, small businesses wherever possible.
  • Pressure local legislators and officials to advocate for the opening up of your state’s businesses as applicable. (Obviously people reading this from certain states can skip this part.)
  • If a business decides to go against a state’s forced closing mandate – don’t be a Karen, be a customer.
  • And it’s not just businesses: having open schools and resuming their activities would be a great help to employment as well. It brings me to my next part.

Reforming our schools.

One thing I loved about the Trump administration was the fresh perspective he brought to the Department of Education with Betsy DeVos. Unfortunately, her tenure was cut a bit short because she bought the media narrative about the January 6 protest, but her time at the DoE was the next best thing to it not being there.

Sadly, under Harris/Biden there will likely be some other NEA-approved hack running that show and undoing all the good DeVos did, so we need to do what we can to re-establish local control of our public schools as much as possible and push the envelope where required. If that can’t be done, then it’s time to support the alternatives such as homeschooling or non-public schools.

Of course, the best way to guide public schools is to become a member of their school board, but not everyone has that sort of time commitment nor do they want to go through the anal exam known as an election. (Furthermore, in the case of my local school district, reform would be slow: they elect one member of the five-member body every year, meaning it would take at least three years to install a like-thinking majority.) But it is a good idea to know about your local school board and see who the friendlies to the cause are. (If they have a BLM banner, it’s not too likely they’re conservative.) The ideal here is to revamp curriculum to bring it back to classical education as opposed to indoctrination, encouraging a variety of viewpoints and critical thinking. Public school students don’t have to be mindless robots; after all, I’m a case in point since I went to public school and a public university. I think I turned out okay.

On a state level, there are two priorities and this means you have to make some enemies in the teachers’ union: school choice and (corollary to that) money following the child. It’s your child and the state should be doing its level best to assist you in training up the child in the way he should go.

Action items:

  • Demand schools open up fully. The lack of in-person learning and activities has cost students a year of development.
  • Research your local school board and its candidates, even if you don’t have kids there. They are taking a lot of your tax money so you should be aware how it’s spent.
  • Advocate with your state legislators for school choice and money following the child.

And now for the biggie, the one which should be job one among all right-thinking Americans:

Restoring free and fair elections.

I’m going to begin with a quote. You may be surprised at the source.

Voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner. The list includes the 2000 presidential election, in which problems with absentee ballots in Florida were a little-noticed footnote to other issues.

In the last presidential election, 35.5 million voters requested absentee ballots, but only 27.9 million absentee votes were counted, according to a study by Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He calculated that 3.9 million ballots requested by voters never reached them; that another 2.9 million ballots received by voters did not make it back to election officials; and that election officials rejected 800,000 ballots. That suggests an overall failure rate of as much as 21 percent.

“Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Balloting Rises,” Adam Liptak, New York Times, October 6, 2012.

It’s funny because that story concludes, “You could steal some absentee ballots or stuff a ballot box or bribe an election administrator or fiddle with an electronic voting machine,” (Yale law professor Heather Gerken) said. That explains, she said, “why all the evidence of stolen elections involves absentee ballots and the like.”

It didn’t get any better in 2020, as hastily-passed (or decreed) election law led to the chaotic scenes we saw played out in several big-city vote counting venues. Combine that with the molasses-like pace of mail sent through the USPS – I received a Christmas card sent by a friend in Kansas December 18 on January 4 – and we got an election result that millions are skeptical about.

I know there are some who swear these practices are on the up and up, but this is the question we should be asking these officials: If you support election practices we can’t trust, how can you be a public servant we can trust?

At a minimum, we should be demanding that changes made for the 2020 election should be scrapped entirely. This was no way to run an election, and it will always be fishy how Donald Trump (and a host of other Republicans) led in their election in certain states until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before suddenly being overtaken in a barrage of votes for Democrats. I will give kudos to the election officials here in Delaware who demanded all mail-in ballots be delivered by 8 p.m. on election night because the counting was pretty much done by the late local news.

I don’t care if you call it the TEA Party again – with the acronym now standing for Trump’s Election Avengers – but here are the action items, as the beginning of a list of demands for real election reform:

  1. The voter rolls should be purged of inactive voters (no voting in the last four years) and those who use fake addresses such as P.O. boxes. Big-city election boards should be made to use some of their ill-gotten largess to investigate these places.
  2. Absentee balloting should no longer be shall-issue. There has to be a legitimate excuse, although advanced age should remain a legitimate excuse. Deadline for absentee ballot return is Election Day, no postmark exceptions.
  3. Ballot-harvesting should be outlawed or curtailed to leave only family members allowed to return a limited number of ballots.
  4. Early voting should be eliminated, or at the very least cut back to the weekend just prior to the election.
  5. There should be more election observers, and not just Democrat and Republican. We should add two independent or minor party voters who are also allowed to observe and object.

This isn’t to say that we should ignore the excesses of the Harris/Biden administration and speak out when necessary. But in making these more easily attainable changes at the local level, we make it more difficult to enact change on a national scale.

If we want to make the necessary changes, we have to borrow the “think globally, act locally” mantra from the environmentalist wackos for a bit and ride out the next four years as the real shadow government. It’s only through us that a government for and by the people not perish from the earth.

The first of many bad ideas

It’s sort of hard to believe, but we’re basically a couple holidays away from the beginning of a new legislative year – and in Delaware, the commencement of a new session of the General Assembly. (Unfortunately, it will be at the behest of the same old governor, John “Governor Carnage” Carney.)

While the recent election was relatively good for the Republicans on a national level in terms of keeping or gaining control of state legislative bodies, Delaware bucked that trend to a point where the Democrats now have a solid 2/3 majority in the Senate (14-7) to go along with the 26-15 margin they kept in the House. Despite that success, Democrats want to make some ill-advised changes to the electoral system instead of useful ones like photo voter ID and scrapping their previously-passed foray into early and often voting come 2022.

One proposal that quickly drew my ire is a bill (I believe this will be HB30) to move the primary date from September to April. To me, this is a terrible idea for several reasons – first and foremost, it’s because the duopoly party establishment wants it. (Of course, if it were up to them we wouldn’t even get a primary – they would simply emerge once the smoke turns white and tell us who the candidates will be.)

We went through this in Maryland about a decade ago, basically because the Democrats HATED protracted primary fights. So they moved the state’s primary up from September to the spring and, first chance they got, selected someone in the 2014 gubernatorial primary they absolutely hated by Election Day. They then doubled down and did it even worse in 2018.

As far as the Republicans went, the chances of an insurgent campaign went right out the window. An early primary gives the media more time to dig (or conjure) up dirt on the GOP hopeful once nominated and also advantages those who have name ID.

My second objection is how it would stretch out campaign season. Admittedly, this is nothing compared to the perpetual campaign for 2024 we will see from Donald Trump if the 2020 election is heisted away from him, but look at how this year’s Delaware campaign played out. The eventual Republican nominees didn’t begin campaigning a great deal until the spring – in fact, had Delaware had its primary in April with its Presidential primary, the GOP nominee would have likely been the same nominee who lost in 2016. None of the “new blood” candidates were viable in the early spring.

If it were up to me, the state of Delaware would be the trendsetter with the late primary. I honestly see no need to begin the Presidential campaign until April, with six weeks of regional eight-state primaries in June and July leading to national conventions running the week before and after Labor Day. (Iowa and New Hampshire can still go first, but having a succession of “Super Tuesday” primaries concentrated in one region beginning a week or two later means a candidate could forgo those contests and still be viable.) Regions can take turns being first.

I will say that there is one part of HB30 that should be stripped out of the bill and allowed to be its own proposal, and that’s the part about changing parties. Since I happen to be in a non-principal party, I could not change my registration to vote in a primary thanks to an absurdly early deadline for switching affiliation (something like four months prior to the election.) This would change it to 60 days, which is fair. Certainly there will be more party switching if this occurs, but sometimes that’s a good political strategy when your party has no primary.

But if I have to toss that baby out with the HB30 bathwater, so be it. This idea is a bad one, which means it will probably be on Governor Carnage’s desk by early March. Such is the political idiocy in Delaware, and we blew our chance at changing that last month.