This is What Passes for “Ideas” in Democratic Socialism

Gotta give credit to Maryland Matters; they’ll print almost any op-ed people send them, no matter how bad it is. And we have to thank them for printing this.

The latest op-ed they published was from what passes for the ideas guy in Maryland’s democratic socialist community, Richard DeShay Elliott.  If you can get past the terrible grammar and the prolific typos, it’s quite a word salad of ignorance and delusions from somebody who still doesn’t understand why Ben Jealous lost the 2018 election so badly.

The first half of the op-ed is less about ideas and more about the state of play in the Speaker’s race through the red-colored socialist glasses. But it doesn’t take long to get to the meat of the problem with Elliot’s “ideas”:

The speaker of the House picks the committee chairs, the leadership, and sets the legislative agenda for Maryland House Democrats. It is a very powerful position with almost no democratic accountability. With the first opportunity to elect a House speaker in over a decade, Maryland Democratic voters deserve increased transparency and democratization within their caucus. These are demands of our next speaker:

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The bad grammar is from the original.

The entire point behind Elliott’s piece is that it’s written with the perspective that the Speaker of the House is a position that represents the Democratic Party. It’s not; the Speaker represents the choice of the “entire” membership of the House of Delegates. It’s the same myopic view that led Maya Rockeymoore Cummings to step in it with her demand that the Democratic Caucus stick together.

But let’s get to the point-by-point reforms that Elliott proposes, which are adorable.

    1. Term limits for speaker and other leadership positions
      Not once has a Democrat, socialist or otherwise, proposed this. Not once. This is the rare idea where Elliott isn’t aggressive enough. Because there should be term-limits for the entire House of Delegates and the State Senate, not just the leadership positions.All in all, this is one of Elliott’s least insulting ideas.
    2. Democratize the Caucus
      By “Democratize the Caucus” he means “let the Democrats pick who gets to hold certain positions.” If the Democrats want to elect their majority leader, fine; it’s worked pretty well for Republicans. But once again, Elliott has this mental block where he believes that committee chairs are the birthright of the Democratic Party and are not representative of the entire body. It also seems that Elliott forgets the entire purpose of the Speakership, which is to lead the chamber and to organize it, including deciding who gets appointed to what committee and who gets to lead what committee. That’s the entire point of the Speakership, not to turn it into the Lord of the Flies with a never-ending series of elections.You think that the legislature is petty and vindictive now? Introduce this nonsense and see what happens.
    3. More Transparent Process
      By “More Transparent Process ” a public forum every year to ensure that the speaker hears from Democratic voters all over the state, rather than just special interests?” and “The speaker doesn’t just represent the Democratic Caucus in Annapolis. He or she needs to represent Democratic voters and democratic values.” Once again, Elliott views the Speakership as a birthright of the Democratic Party and not representative of the House of Delegates chamber. But on top of it, Elliott seems to think that the Speaker is directly responsible to voters; they aren’t. They are responsible to their members, who are themselves responsible to their voters.
    4. Concrete Policy Platform
      This idea is completely inoffensive; what’s mind-numbing is the fact that Speaker Busch has been doing this for years, usually in coordination with Senate President Mike Miller during times in which there has been a Republican Governor (i.e. most of the 21st century).
    5. Unionize Annapolis Staffers
      Thousands of Democratic staffers have come and gone through the General Assembly. And nobody has proposed this yet. There’s a reason for that.

      Legislative staffers are fully aware of the demands of their job, and for almost all of them, it is an honor to serve their Delegate or Senator, serve their community, and work on issues that matter to them. Elliott seems to forget that not everybody wants to be a member of a union, but then again he thinks that the already unionized Maryland Capitol Police are “security guards”, so it’s not like a lot of thought or research went into this.
    6. Restructure Ethics Enforcement in Annapolis
      Here’s the one issue where we agree with Elliott on. But where was Elliott’s candidate, Maggie McIntosh on this during the session? Crickets, though that probably has a lot to do with McIntosh’s past ethical challenges and her refusal to blame rapists for rape.
    7. Turning State Senate President and House Speaker into Statewide Elected Positions
      Once again, Elliott succumbs to the conceit that these positions are Democratic birthrights by saying “The positions of state Senate president and House speaker are both so powerful in a state with guaranteed super majorities that we should consider making them statewide elected positions during the Democratic primary. With a rapidly changing Maryland Democratic Party, what is a better way to ensure that the leadership is following the demands of voters?” Well, it probably has a lot to do with the fact that, once again, the Speaker and Senate President ostensibly represent the entire body of the House and the Senate. There are a few states that elect their President of the Senate statewide, in the form of electing a Lt. Governor who happens to serve as the Senate of the President. Nobody elects a Speaker because……the Speaker represents the members of the House of Delegates, not the voters.
    8. Improve Press Accessibility in Annapolis
      Other than Elliott being five years late to the party on lamenting the state of the State House Press Corps, there isn’t really an idea here. He writes “we need to ensure that Marylanders can hear what is happening in Annapolis and how it relates to their day-to-day lives. The next speaker should be committed to opening up Annapolis to press.” But what the hell does that even mean? Anybody who has a media outlet can get press credentials. Anybody who wants to write about politics and cover the General Assembly in person can.There isn’t an idea here, it’s just word vomit.
    9. Expel Del. Mary Ann Lisanti
      Again a position we share. Again, something that Maggie McIntosh and the rest of the alleged “progressives” have done absolutely nothing about.
    10. Encode Reproductive Rights, Unionization, Ballot Initiatives and Recall Elections in the Maryland Constitution
      Ah yes, the Democratic socialists and their obsession with turning Maryland into the California of the east. “Reproductive rights” remember is a code word for abortion, the wanton killing of innocent unborn children. What’s perplexing about Elliott’s call for ensuring “Reproductive Rights” and “Unionization” in the State Constitution is that, for better or for worse, nobody is calling for them to be banned. The abortion amendment would accomplish nothing that isn’t already in state law, and nobody is calling for unions to be banned, though banning public sector unions is worth discussing. Ballot initiatives in California have a wild and varied history, with most people acknowledging how they are easily manipulated by rich donors or rich interest groups. Recall elections work better in principle than they do in reality; just look at the circus the 2003 California recall election turned into.

This entire piece is little more than a Democratic Socialist fever dream written by somebody with a galactic level of self-importance, a galling lack of actual knowledge, and who is just a little bit touchy about criticism.

To be fair, this is pretty in line with the reputation that Elliott has in Democratic circles.

Ultimately, Elliott’s piece just goes to show how little influence that Elliott, Progressive Maryland, and democratic socialism has in the state. They can’t even convince the members of their own party, the Democrats, to do stuff; it’s not going to go over any better with the rest of the electorate.

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