Patuxent/ Howard Sun had an interesting editorial recently, which can be found here. The gist is that the editorial attempts to bring to light the dissatisfaction in the electorate, and drawns parallels to the 1990 election, which incumbent County Executive Liz Bobo lost to GOP longshot candidate Chuck Ecker. The editorial uses the success of Lisa Markovitz's County Council race in District 1 (she lost, but finished second in the Democratic primary) as evidence of the bewing of a dissatisfied electorate.
I agree with the editorial in part. I do believe there are some dissatisfied voters out there. And I believe that the political party/candidate that is not aware of that section of the electorate, or worse yet, that chooses not to recognize them, does so at their own peril.
But I don't see a strong parallel to 1990. First off, neither County Exec candidate will leave $20,000 sitting in the bank, which is what Liz Bobo did in 1990, which is like leaving $100,000 in the bank in political dollars today. And I don't see a strong parallel to 1994, although such a parallel would be more apt. I don't see a recoil away from one political party and a move towards the other.
What I do see is a desire along the electorate to call BS. If there's a policy or position that the electorate doesn't like, if it simply doesn't make any sense, the electorate calls BS on it. I also think the electorate is one that wants to hear practical, possible solutions. Not rhetoric and lip service and blah blah blah.
I call into evidence to support my theory the reaction against the Ulman administration's ban on sugary sodas at the 4th of July fireworks. Yes, the legislation to enable this was passed in broad daylight. But when people got to see the policy in practice, in the real world, then the electorate called BS. From all parts of the political spectrum.
And why is this? Because I think that people are starting to gain the perception that government doesn't protect or represent their interests. And so they will put people into office who will. But I think that this time, the public is more discerning. I think people are learning more about people running for office and are using their vote, maybe not with greater numbers, but with greater passion. A vote is an investment and people want to place that investment where it'll do some good. Not in an empty suit.
So if you are a candidate for office this year, and your best weapon is not your ideas, but your capacity to throw bombs and berate the other guy, I suggest that you start with one foot in the grave. And you'd best to start coming up with practical, doable solutions to the problems besetting the area you propose to represent right now, or else you may as well cover yourself with dirt now.
Monday, July 28, is 28 days before Howard County schools start on August 25. And still no agreement between the HCPSS and HCEA.
Let's be careful out there.