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November 5, 2012

Defeating Blatant Arrogance

Jill King

Maryland ballot referendum Question 5, dealing with congressional redistricting, has been left in the dust. A petition drive to recall the gerrymandering of districts was successful across the state.


Gerrymandering is a process in which an attempt to give one party an advantage over another in a particular region of a state. Squelching minority parties, or even minority areas in many states, happens on both sides of the aisle. Neither party should be able to get away with this for political gain; it is about principle, not party.


It has been said that this Maryland redistricting map was to create a district, in which it would be nearly impossible for incumbent 6th District Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett to win again, and to retain incumbent Democrat Congressman John Sarbanes’ District 3 seat.


The best candidate that the Democratic Party could come up with in District 6 is John Delaney, a self made millionaire, who resides in a large city and knows little of the life in Western Maryland. He does not even live in the newly drawn district.


Unfortunately, since it is not a fiscal, or really even a social issue, the tendency was to support other issues that hit homes more.


Here is when we need to give a shout out and a thumbs down to the Maryland GOP. Once again the party has showed how they can manipulate through divide-and-conquer techniques in the local Republican parties.


In the beginning of the race for president, the Romney campaign stated it would not be campaigning in Maryland because of its blue state dynamics. The Maryland GOP answered back by sending funding, bus loads of volunteers, and other efforts to surrounding states in support of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.


Meanwhile in Maryland, grass roots volunteers have worked feverishly raising capital, standing on busy streets with signs, and knocking on doors to win a seat in the newly gerrymandered districts; very few of the Republican congressional candidates have received any funding from the Maryland GOP.


The question to the Maryland party is this: How many of us will be able to influence a sitting president’s decision? Is it not easier to get answers and provide talking points to the local congressman who is there to represent local needs?


So why, then, have the Maryland GOP made decisions to support candidates in other states, while dividing a party that is already on the brink of destruction in Maryland?


Local Republican clubs have difficulties intertwining with others due to the dissidence; the power struggle for national committeewoman proved that. Yet, with that, we really haven't seen any real change or growth.


Moving forward, hard workers, leaders, and people who realize the power of local government, not an “it's-not-your- turn mentality,” will be needed if the local Republican Club wants to continue to grow. The rise in independents and Campaign for Liberty Chapters in each county proves this.


Never have we been faced with such a slam in the face to the hard working volunteers at the local level; the gerrymandering challenge has made this race crucial, spreading Republican Eric Knowles District 3 race into four counties, Baltimore City, and on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.


Several local delegates have issued newsletter opinions or have used other social media, placing information on their websites on this issue; these are the ones who deserve credit, although their outreach is limited.


Subscribing locally would help people stay in the know on issues. If you are not on your local delegate or senator’s email list, now is not too late.


One of the biggest proponents to speak out on this non-partisan issue is State Comptroller Peter Franchot. He has undermined Gov. Martin O'Malley's efforts by asking for a bi-partisan board to determine the districts, revoking the current draft.


He is only one example of the fight against this, including court cases from minorities in Montgomery County. Even though not victorious with the court challenge, they continue to fight against the "cracking" to their county, which dilutes the minority vote.


Montgomery County Democrats have also announced their stance against the referendum.


Here was a big red sign for the Maryland GOP to find and embrace a like cause, growing their base. Instead, they ran to Virginia and Pennsylvania.


It is said that in order to belong to a political organization, you don't speak ill of your own party. Inaction is speaking ill; sometimes it is the silence that says it all.


What you will see on the ballot is phrased in this manner:


·        Establishes the boundaries for the State’s eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.


As it reads, it appears that we really have no choice to vote against because the Constitution requires it. The only requirement is for the state after a national census, to review the population and create new boundaries.


We are not required to accept or endorse it. Those who do are enabling future efforts to dilute votes.


A question as to whether it could be just as bad in two years, after redrawing the lines, has been asked numerous times. Should we just suck it up because it could get worse?


With Comptroller Franchot taking a stance on creating a bi-partisan committee to establish new lines, the potential possibility lessens. If this occurs again, the petition process is still there to send it back to the voters again.


Governor O'Malley can only do this one more time; the end of his residence in Government House ends in January 2015.


If this is accepted, we will have to wait 10 years for new lines to be drawn.


Question 5 is a morality test. For two different political worlds to come to an agreement on an issue is rare. In this instance, those who have spoken against are reasonable. Gerrymandering at any level should be stopped.


Marylanders should never let the hard work of grass roots organizations go down in vain. This could be one step forward to a common bond.


Retraining my brain for the future, conferring with the past...


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