The Way Forward in Maryland
We don’t know how the race for Senate will play out yet but, if the polls are correct, and the Bay State elects Scott Brown this could foreshadow a 1994-style rout in November in which a favorably gerrrymandered House returns to GOP control.
There are lessons to be learned here by the Maryland GOP but they aren’t the ones our state delegates and senators will have an easy time accepting. To lay my argument I turn to the Atlantic’s own in-house forensic gynecologist, the ever excitable Andrew Sullivan (at least we think Andrew wrote this from the barely restrained hysteria though we know his blog is regularly ghostwritten)
Even if Coakley wins – and my guess is she’ll lose by a double digit margin – the bill is dead. The most Obama can hope for is a minimalist alternative that simply mandates that insurance companies accept people with pre-existing conditions and are barred from ejecting patients when they feel like it. That’s all he can get now – and even that will be a stretch. The uninsured will even probably vote Republican next time in protest at Obama’s failure! That’s how blind the rage is.
Ditto any attempt to grapple with climate change. In fact, any legislative moves with this Democratic party and this Republican party are close to hopeless. The Democrats are a clapped out, gut-free lobbyist machine. The Republicans are insane. The system is therefore paralyzed beyond repair.
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Now Sullivan overstates his case here by an order of magnitude but it goes back to a point I have made many times. When you are a party that is in a minority status, and by that I mean your votes are irrelevant to the outcome of the majority’s legislative agenda, you have two choices. You can either oppose the majority or you can take the quisling appoach. The latter has been the strategy of most of our caucus in the O’Malley years.
Their logic runs along the lines of that “we have a responsibility to govern” and “we have to work to make horrible legislation merely bad legislation.” Of course, there is the ever popular “we have to offer an alternative” fallacy and the “we have to make deals for our districts” gambit.
These are false premises. The role of the GOP in Annapolis is not to give bipartisan cover to profoundly stupid and misguided pieces of legislation by allowing the Maryland Dems to trot out a coterie tame Republicans and say, “look, these are good Republicans because they do what they are told.” It is equally dysfunctional for a caucus which is so small that it can’t hope to enact its own legislation by peeling off a corporal’s guard of disaffected Democrats to spin its wheels offering alternative legislation which O’Malley and his minions will use as a combination club and pinata.
Many Marylanders are upset at the direction our state is going with access being auctioned to the highest bidder and O’Malley cronies ending up with amazingly favorable deals by coincidence and all of this paid for by higher taxes on those of us who still work.
Now is the time for the GOP to dig in its heels and refuse to be coopted and compromised. Now is the time for the GOP to point out the impact of the decisions made in Annapolis on working Marylanders.
GOP firmness in opposing Obamacare has laid the groundwork for Scott Brown. Rather than negotiating for a “better” way to socialize healthcare or presenting their own plan for the Democrats to demonize, Republicans held remarkably firm to principle and as such they are forming the locus for resistance to the gross overreach by Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and their acolytes. The same will work in Maryland if our GOP caucus draws the right lessons from Massachusetts.