Election Post Mortem
The morning of Election Day was the first killing frost of fall across Maryland. In hindsight it seems appropriate, just as the season was devastating my plants and vegetables in Hampstead, the electorate was doing the same with the economic future of our country – they re-elected Barack Obama.
In the land of the Maryland Republican Party there were few bright spots at the Election Night Victory Party. Our hard working Senate candidate was under 30%. Dan Bongino energized many people, brought new faces to the table, raised over $1 million for his race; yet, as the results showed, he failed to spread his message deep enough into the Maryland electorate to change partisan minds.
Seven of eight congressional candidates for the GOP received only the "base" vote in their congressional districts. Each ran tough, underfunded races in newly gerrymandered districts and all but one ran against well-funded incumbent Members of Congress. Even U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett was defeated; just like the rest he received only the base vote, further proving the most effective tool in politics is the pen in a map maker's hand.
The brightest spot of the evening was the win by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris. He ran a very active campaign even though is opponent, who remained on the ballot, was accused of voter fraud. He took the race to the people and worked as he should – although he was a safe bet in a safe seat.
The amazing take-away from the Harris race is 27% of voters chose to vote for a Democrat felon, who dropped out (yet remained on the ballot) due to ineligibility. Rather than choose another candidate on the ballot or under vote that position – partisan ignorance prevailed once again in Maryland.
The further proof of ignorance on the part of the voting public lies in the outcome of the ballot questions – specifically Question 5 concerning congressional re-districting. Who truthfully would look at a picture of the current map and believe it was fair or reasonably drawn to represent the citizens of Maryland?
During the petitioning process, Question 5 proved to be the easiest signature to secure. It was not an emotional or social issue; it was just a visual fact with unfairness in representation outlined in full color. Yet it won by approximately the same percentage as the Democrat registration numbers in our misguided state.
The "socially orientated" issues of immigrants, marriage and gambling were much closer than the typical Maryland partisan divide – showing some actual thought process was accomplished by the partisan voter. The primary reason the social questions were closer is due to the fact the "church" stepped into the picture to accomplish the education portion, enlightening the otherwise blinded partisan voter. The "church" may not rule in Maryland, however, the results show many listen. Results also show that religion transcends, in these cases, the typical partisan gap.
The biggest disappointment of the evening for the GOP faithful was the presidential race. When people arrived at the party at 8:30 P.M., the crowd was buzzing, faces were bright and cheery. You could see actual optimism in the room as people shared war stories from polling locations. But as the results came in and many states were listed as too close to call, the crowd quieted, doubt set in, and you could feel hope slowly fade from the loyalists who gathered in the hotel.
By 11 P.M. when the networks called North Carolina for Mitt Romney, even as Virginia and Florida were trending in President Obama’s direction, I knew, as did most GOP political hacks, the end was near and the path to a Romney win was too narrow to be reality. Within the next 10 minutes the room hushed, many said sad good-byes heading home when Ohio landed its 18 electoral votes in the Obama column, closing the door to a Romney win.
Governor Romney remains a class act. His concession speech was gracious, up-beat and excellent. I have no doubt his business acumen would have benefited our country, but it is not to be. He called for those in office to reach across the partisan divide and work together, putting people ahead of politics, a tough ask for a deeply divided Washington. Our Congress has a 12% approval rating – yet the citizens have re-elected virtually every member, giving them a mandate to continue the road blocks to bi-partisan government.
Our economic dilemmas, however, still lie ahead. Neither candidate could stop what will mathematically happen to our economy in the near future. Perhaps Governor Romney might have eased the pain, but we will never know. What we do know is we are spiraling in the wrong direction, and pure partisan politics has not been the answer.
The American people have decided, in a close election last night, they are returning to gridlock. The ignorance of their vote has endorsed the continuance of the current uncompromising style of politics. The closeness of the race will be of little account to a lame duck president. The next couple of years will continue business as usual in our nation's Capitol.
Change within both parties will come eventually to our federal governance. The question is: How far into the economic breech will we travel before it happens? The answer: When the ignorant become hungry.