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As Long as We Remember...

November 20, 2007

Turkey and a Bitter Pill

Farrell Keough

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it is a time of reflection for us all. Family, friends, health, rights, and many other freedoms we enjoy and should be thankful to have in this most incredible of nations. Only because we were fortunate enough to have God’s blessing and be born in this country do we have the bounty of these privileges and the freedoms that accompany them.

Freedom is what sets this Grand Experiment apart from all other nations in this world. Freedom to change our government representatives, freedom to speak our minds, freedom to practice our beliefs, the list goes on and on.

But this freedom did not come without a cost. We still have men and women fighting to ensure our freedoms remain alive and vibrant.

We must take time this week to remember these honorable and heroic people. They are not only vigilant in ensuring this vast freedom remains alive within our borders, but continue to put their very lives on the line in foreign nations to ensure we remain the active and vibrant nation of freedoms we so enjoy. To that end, we must also remain ever vigilant to ensure we retain our freedoms and rights down to the local level.

A dark cloud has settled over this State in these many weeks with respect to our budget and the crisis that supposedly accompanies our needs and wants. I say supposedly because our own state comptroller (a Democrat) outlined the specifics indicating we are not in a crisis.

But, none-the-less, this doomsday scenario seems to be going through our legislature swimmingly. The only real opposition is the Republicans and a few conservative Democrats. This tax plan has been touted as easy money with no ill-effects on the general public.

Can you believe that some people actually buy this pig-in-a-poke? How does one rectify pulling in $1.7 billion dollars, (wasn’t it originally a smaller number?) without having much of an effect on the general populace? But I digress.

What is disturbing is the current trend of hanging those few dissenters out to dry. The Republicans had a strong and good plan to reject these outrageous increases and outlandish spending plans.

But just as Gov. Martin O’Malley’s tax plan was presented as a full package, if any one part was not passed, the entire “benefit” of the plan would go down in flames.

The Republican counter was also presented as a program that “if you aren’t with us, (in full) then you are against us.” This is not the Republican Party I have come to know and support. The Republican Party, unlike the opposition, is truly inclusive. When we begin to act like Democrats and liberals, then we slide away from our true values into the winner-takes-all politics we see occurring on the national scene.

Lest you believe this view is off the reservation, let’s examine some of the reasoning behind it.

I was privileged to hear a speech by one our of local representatives, the Honorable Roscoe Bartlett. Not only was the speech given extemporaneously, but with some relevant insights.

Congressman Bartlett noted that those who believe in government as the solution, truly believe that is the only way to make a better society. They earnestly believe that taxes and regulation are the solution and if a law does not accomplish its end, then obviously there was not enough taxation and not enough regulation to accomplish the desire.

This is an immensely important point to understand. We are not fighting people, but we are fighting a philosophy that has been proven wrong time and again. We must remain vigilant to remember what we are fighting and not personalize this battle.

For instance, we have a presidential nominee who has a track record of not being Pro-Life. This has been a pillar of the Republican Party since Roe v. Wade. But, to placate the electorate, Rudy Giuliani has insisted that he will promote only those judges who are constitutionalists and not judicial activists. Is this variation from the party line acceptable?

What about the man who most recently embodied the Republican Party? President Ronald Reagan is noted to have said something along the lines of, “That person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally; not a 20 percent traitor.”

This is a powerful point we need to embrace. We are a party of many perspectives and we would be weaker if this were not the case. This is the party to which I want to be a member. One that not just allows, but earnestly desires a plethora of views to finally obtain those that achieve our ends and core beliefs.

To throw away those few who voted another way on a few occasions diminishes our party and lessens the dynamism of ideas and solutions we have to offer.

When we have a known group or individual who stands for our beliefs on such a high percentage of the time, we need to embrace them, not throw them to the wolves. That is the strategy of the opposition. We need to keep our focus upon those who do not stand for our values. We need to beat the drums about the consistent ill-effects that occur by those groups who push through bills and laws that harm our way of life and damage our economic growth.

Obviously, the dominant party in this state promotes these ill-founded ideas and ideals. Many ‘old time’ Democrats are still abundant. They will see through the folly of this tax train. We need to embrace their core values and bring them into the fold. We also need to be very wary of those who claim non-partisanship, but in essence hold the values outlined by Congressman Bartlett.

For example, the Maryland Association of Counties, (MACo) and the Maryland Municipal League (MML) have been working diligently behind the scenes to fully promote this O’Malley tax fiasco. These organizations are composed of elected officials interested in protecting their turf.

While this sounds laudable, the truth is, they promote continued taxation as long as it does not originate from their positions. They were involved with Governor O’Malley near the beginning of this plan. They went to the press and told us how parks and police would be the first cuts if we did not comply with this tremendous tax increase.

They accepted slots as a reasonable method to inject more dollars into the government; well, until it affected their local constituency. But (!), were they on board with the previous administration and the cuts promoted? Not so much. These folks, who use this kind of duck and cover approach, are the folks that need to be held accountable. Look these organizations up and remember them come next election.

When you start to read about these dissenters in the Republican Party, remember the perspectives of Ronald Reagan. He was one of the most uniting presidents this nation has ever had the privilege to enjoy. This was because he could see the big picture.

“Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles – and I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly; he acted upon them decisively… Yet his ideas, though clear, were never simplistic. He saw the many sides of truth.” [Margaret Thatcher's Eulogy at Reagan's Funeral].

We are and need to remain a party of the many sides of truth. Politics is a job of harsh partisan debate, but one which ends in compromise; not one which ends in winner-takes-all or scorched-earth policies.

“Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” Ronald Reagan.

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