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As Long as We Remember...

August 17, 2006

Reality Check Arrives In Annapolis

Chris Cavey

Upon hearing the news that Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth ruled the Maryland early voting law unconstitutional a few thoughts came to mind. Is the Democrat leadership in Annapolis knowingly and willingly advocating and shepherding legislation through our General Assembly that is illegal and even in violation even of the Maryland Constitution?

Also, how long has this kind of thing been happening to the citizens of Maryland?

One of the most important jobs a governor has is to review the bills passed by the General Assembly and to reject via the veto those he believes harmful to Maryland's citizens. Currently we have a governor who takes this responsibility very seriously and approaches it with utmost deliberation.

But what was happening all those years when the executive and legislative branches were "in bed together?"

Think about it. In the 16 years previous to Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. a Republican governor, there were only two vetoes over ridden by a Democrat legislature dealing with a Democrat governor. Arguably there were over 30,000 bills in those 16 years and only two were debated between the branches of government?

What does this mean?

It means that for the almost two decades the Democrat-lead legislature likely passed questionable, controversial, potentially harmful, or unconstitutional bills because the fox was watching the henhouse.

Or perhaps does this means that the current legislative leadership has resorted to desperate measures by forcing passage of harmful and illegal bills just to prove they are in charge.

It is just logical thought. One of these two intentional acts is correct. The Democrat-control legislature did not change. The only major power shift in government was the change of party affiliation of the executive branch. Even the vast majority of the judicial appointments remained filled with appointees of previous Democrat governors.

Is the Wal-Mart law - which was contrived and passed by the Democrat leadership, vetoed by the Republican governor, then over-ridden by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, and now found by a federal court to be illegal - a prime example of bad legislation or just desperate legislation? Would this bill have been vetoed by a Democrat governor playing "let's make a deal" with Mike Miller and Mike Busch? Never!

How about the early voting legislation? Democrat leaders have worked hard and desperately fought to convince the public that Governor Ehrlich does not have their best interest at heart in this measure. Yet a Circuit Court judge (of their choice.they requested a change of venue) has ruled the early voting unconstitutional. Early voting - without the veto protection of Governor Ehrlich and the intervention of a couple of his allies - would have meant the Democrat leadership in the General Assembly could even manipulate the Maryland Constitution and get away with it!

Over the past four years the press has lamented the increase in partisanship. None have argued the fact that this is our system of checks and balances at work. None have realized that partisan politics is what a true two-party system is all about. When one party is too dominant, as has been the case for the past 40 years in Maryland, you have the scenario of absolute power causing absolute corruption.

Have the citizens of Maryland been fooled for decades into believing that the process of our government was really a two-party system, working for the people and doing so with almost no debate? Have they forgotten the great debates our Founding Fathers had among themselves during their deliberations?

It has been an easy masquerade when only one party has been in control of the entire operation and they want that power returned to the previous 100 percent level. But what is power?

Perhaps it is always having greater than 85 votes (the number needed to over-ride a veto) in the House under your control. Perhaps it is being able to change the rules of debate in the Senate, at will, to benefit your side. Perhaps it is being the longest serving Senate president in the United States and presiding from your office, in a public building you pushed through, overseeing details of construction which just happens to be named after you. Maybe that is what absolute power truly is!

Blame for not working together cannot logically be shifted to the minority party who doesn't have enough votes to stop debate or sustain a veto. Blame cannot be totally laid at the feet of a governor who can be overridden at will and is charged with protecting citizens by questioning and vetoing bad and illegal legislation.

Desperate people do desperate things. The Democrat leadership exhibited their frustrations during this last session and now the courts are ruling on just how desperate. Expect desperate measures to crop up within the majority party as the campaign heats up.

They thrive on power and control as if it were an addictive drug. It's time to send these long-term leaders, who would fool you, to the rehab center instead of back to Annapolis again.

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