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September 18, 2002

Will Citizens Benefit - Or The Party - In The Next Delegation?

John W. Ashbury

There was a picture in yesterday's Frederick News-Post of several Democratic Party candidates in the November general election. The alleged purpose of said photo was to demonstrate the solidarity of the candidates in capturing seats in the General Assembly.

The really sad part was the last line of the accompanying article, which stated: "While candidates will address the issues most important to them, they said they also will do what's best for the party."

What the hell are they thinking? When are these party wonks going to truly become concerned about what is best for the citizens of Frederick County?

And in too many instances, the Republicans aren't a whole lot better. The fiasco of primary election day over whether or not Delegate Paul Stull gave his permission for his name, and his authority line, to be included on a sign supporting several candidates and on a palm card to be handed to voters as they entered the polling places, did not do any good for the citizens, or the Republican Party for that matter.

And both parties have been egregiously guilty of slamming into political oblivion those candidates who dare to disagree with the "prevailing philosophy of the party politic."

For the last eight years we have heard nothing but complaints from Democratic leaders that our delegation to Annapolis just couldn't get along. But then they didn't try to help the situation by trying to reach a peace accord. At least, as despicable a person as he is, Bill Clinton tried to negotiate a settlement between the Arabs and the Israelis. Not our local party leaders - from either party.

Certainly party politics is important to define and delineate the differences between the politicos. But to stage a photo op for the sole stated purpose of "doing what's best for the party" is outrageous.

There was a conversation between two Republicans at the Walkersville precinct on primary election day. One said that party leaders must join together to put an end to the petty bickering that seems to be tearing the local party apart. The other, among the leaders of the local Republican Men's Club, agreed. But he didn't know what could be done in the current atmosphere.

Perhaps there is a statesman out there who dresses in Republican garb. Who that might be is anybody's guess.

Over on the Democratic side, the party has lost a huge advantage in local registration over the past decade or so. The cause is simple. The Democratic leadership in Frederick County has swung so far to the left, that the conservative Democrats in the county have little choice but to support Republicans, whose core beliefs are more attuned to their own.

The governor's race will be won by Republican Congressman Robert Ehrlich in Frederick County in November. Certainly he will capture most of the Republican vote. But, in all likelihood, he will also get quite a few Democrats' votes as well. And the party leaders in the county can't do much about it because they are so focused on a liberal agenda, they can't see the benefits of attempting to paint Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as a moderate, rather than the liberal she really is.

But back to the core point of this piece. Both parties need to instill in their candidates the importance of "doing what is right by the citizens who will put them in office."

We have heard the complaints that the delegation didn?t bring enough "pork" back to Frederick. And it was always blamed on the Republicans because seven of the eight members of the group were of that party.

And when something was garnered for Frederick County, Democrat Sue Hecht took credit for it, even if the Republicans in the delegation voted for it, sponsored it, or shepherded it through the general assembly maze. That's a true failing of hers. She seems to be passing that arrogance onto County Commissioner Jan Gardner, who is seeking re-election.

Rodney King said at a news conference several years ago: "Can't we all just get along?"

Words to live by. But no one in either the Democratic or Republican Party is trying to do that, not even within their own party.

We can hope that the victors in November will put aside petty party politics and actually work together to make Frederick County an even better place to live than it is already. But if the current situation doesn't improve, you can bet that a divided delegation will be the result and Frederick County's citizens will be the real losers.

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