Tuesday, January 14, 2014

But What Are you FOR?!

The 2014 Governor's race here in Maryland is shaping up to be underwhelming. As far as I can tell, the Maryland Republicans have one candidate that is remotely viable, David Craig, who as sitting Harford County Executive has the only meaningful executive experience in the GOP bunch. There are rumors that the vaunted Larry Hogan, of Change Maryland "fame" will enter the race, but I suspect what few in the GOP establishment can probably see from being too close, that few outside of that establishment (and probably few of the "75,000 strong Change Maryland army" know who the Hell Larry Hogan is.

I want to support David Craig for Governor. I promise, I really do. Moderate as I am, I find the idea of another Democratic administration coupled with unfettered Democratic control of the state legislature to be anathema to fairness and sensibility. One party rule should be rejected. To express my sincerity about wanting to support Mr. Craig, I plan on reaching out to the campaign in the coming days, because while some of the messaging they are using on social media is just fine for the red meat Republicans of the state, its been a really long time since those red meat Republicans won a statewide election in Maryland. And by really long time, I mean never.  

What I think many ambitious Republicans do not understand is that being against a solution (Obamacare, for instance, or the Stormwater Fee) is all fine and good, but it leaves the underlying problem firmly in place. I am not the first to say this, but for all intents and purposes, Republicans in Maryland come off as the opposition party, as opposed to a party of workable alternatives. As Ted Kennedy said to Republicans opposing No Child Left Behind years ago on the floor of the Senate, "We know what you are against, but tell us, what are you FOR?!" That is one of the chief reasons, in my opinion, the GOP continues to fail in this state, because it does not present itself in a coordinated fashion as a governing party, but merely as an opposition party. The people of Maryland, in election after election, reject the inherent negativity of Republican politics, and I do not see this changing any time in the near future; although my hope is that Mr. Craig could be convinced to see the light on issues like these.

And further to my point, today on his Facebook account, Mr. Craig has asked his followers: "How has the failed rollout of the Maryland Health Exchange affected you?" The question was asked earlier in the day as well (although that post was removed, presumably because no one answered). I wonder if Mr. Craig and his social media consultants are surprised that no one has fessed up to it impacting them personally on the new post, either. And this sort of proves my theory, doesn't it? The failed rollout of the Maryland Health Exchange hasn't affected anyone you are pandering to, Mr. Craig! Aside from being an inherently negative question, guaranteed to garner angered online diatribes, it's not governing, and it isn't serious, and it won't get you elected. A campaign whose stock in trade is torching straw men is bound to end in failure. Instead of making people angry about opposition, bring people together around solutions. One of these things is harder than the other, but the easy one won't get you elected as a Republican in Maryland.

And while opposing the stormwater fee, or the rollout of the Maryland Health Exchange, or the theory of gravity might be very safe ground with the Lincoln Day Dinner circuit, it will come across to millions of other voters in the state as being another negative campaign with no real ideas of its own.  And that is why, Mr. Craig, if you continue down this path, you will not get elected. Like Bob Ehrlich before you (twice). And like every other failed statewide Republican who proceeded you to an electoral Elba.


Bill I. said...

Current White House occupant ran through a veritable army of straw men to gain his office, and won MD along the way. But he's not a GOP, so maybe your point stands.

Steve Kline said...

Don't disagree with you, Bill, but intrastate Maryland politics are so safely Democratic that an upset victory will require more than the usual political platitudes and/or "firing up the base," of whom there aren't enough to fill the proverbial phone booth in Maryland.

Kirk River Mud said...

I think about this topic a lot, as someone who's moderate on most topics, a rabid conservationist, and an unabashed supporter of reasonable gun rights.

It's 2014. Facts are available quickly, everywhere. Democrats in Maryland can (and should) be fact checked for their ample lies, but they have a clear majority, and it's hard to knock many of them (I-95 corridor) off of their pedestals. Partly that's because the Republican side of the aisle has been full of dolts who are willing to go "full Tea Party" against any Democratic policy regardless of the facts underneath it. Point in case, the stormwater utility fee.

FACT - stormwater runoff is the ONLY pollutant increasing in the Bay. NOT rural septics. NOT farm runoff. Not chicken turds. Not urban sewer. Urban and suburban runoff from urban and suburban counties.

FACT - the Clean Water Act requires interstate waters like the Bay to be "swimmable and fishable."

FACT - EPA, who administers the CWA, could and should be sued (namely, by commercial watermen) for not performing their required regulatory duty.

FACT - EPA made a demand for the states to do their share to clean up the water, as they are legally REQUIRED to do.

FACT - Maryland legislature decided to require the 10 most urban/suburban counties to bring their stormwater infrastructure up to snuff, as EPA was requiring them to do.

FACT - Now the counties have to comply, and that is going to cost money.

Now, the anti-rain tax folks can (and do) say "I love the Bay! But NO MORE BAY TAXES!" so in the end, they only love it to the extent that it's free, and that the citizens of this state are using it as a trash receptacle.

That's the problem with the current GOP operation in Maryland. Show me a (honest) different financial structure for the Bay cleanup. A different timeline. Different ways of doing it, all with the idea of staying legal within the FEDERAL REQUIREMENT TO CLEAN UP THE WATER. But don't keep saying, "We LOVE the Bay! But it can stay dirty."