Saturday, September 22, 2018

Tales of the Outrageously ******

Recently, I have come across some social media posts castigating a certain Board of Education candidate for (allegedly) expressing partisan preferences and/or having supporters who are active members of a certain political party.

First, these same people expressing this faux-outrage tend to align themselves with a party different from the BoE candidate in question.  Second, they seem to have had no problem supporting other candidates in the primary election whose values clearly reflect that of a particular political party.  So we are dealing with a toxic recipe involving hypocrisy, disingenuousness, and naïveté (feigned or authentic).    

We have to deal with the world as it is.  This means that people seeking local public office, even “non-partisan” races, might…just might…possess a worldview involving how best we can govern ourselves in a constitutional republic.  Are they supposed to hide their beliefs?  I would think transparency advocates would find that odious.  Are they supposed to step into some form of transmogrifier that strips them of any partisan proclivities?  I would imagine that such an action, if it were possible, would be repellent to folks across the ideological spectrum.

But to call someone “not ethical” solely because they draw support from a wide range of citizens, including many who identify with a political party, or because they choose to express their beliefs is beyond the pale.  Voters have a right to judge candidates based on whatever criteria they deem important.  I, for one, am glad when candidates are open and honest about their Weltanschauung.  It tells me something about who they are and how they view the world, which I find instructive in assessing how they might respond to dealing with a public policy challenge.

If people want to run as full-on Ds or Rs for the Board of Education, which I would not advise, they are more than welcome to do so.  I just want them to be candid with the electorate so we can make informed judgements at the voting booth.

In solidarity.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Quick Math on the Mason-Dixon Poll

Even if Allan Kittleman garners 94% of the GOP vote and 65% of the Unaffiliated/Independent vote, Calvin Ball can still win by a 50.06% - 49.94% margin assuming 1) Ball obtains 80% of the Democratic vote and 2) the D turnout percentage is no less than the R & I turnout percentages (FYI: I used 60% across-the-board on the back of my envelope).

In short, fear not the current 16% gap that this one survey shows.  There is plenty of time for movement.  The published internals reveal a Ball path to victory.

At this stage, the Ball challenge focuses on:

Bringing Democratic voters home by increasing awareness of Ball’s record and (importantly) his vision for Howard County amongst key D constituencies.  In order to be effective, the Ball campaign’s messaging needs to be forward-looking and centered on issues of concern to voters.  This sounds common sense, but can be more difficult than it seems. 

Driving up D turnout to the greatest extent possible.  This includes Early Voting, AV, & (critically) Election Day voters (reminder: in 2014, Brown and Watson won among those who cast their ballots early or by absentee, but lost amongst those who went to the polls on Election Day).  This means getting Ds who vote in presidential cycles, but not necessarily midterm elections, to the polls.

Reminding Democratic voters that although a certain R might have a non-disagreeable personality, that doesn’t mean they should vote for that individual.  When the crunch comes, are Democrats better off with someone who has been a consistent fighter for their values – and who will be laser-focused on the County’s needs for the next four years - or with someone who might be looking to take a more conservative turn in order to enhance their appeal to Republicans across the state for a 2022 campaign? 

Of course the latter point ends on a bit of a process argument that isn't a clear kitchen-table issue, but it is something to consider.  It is fair game for voters, who want to know what a public official is doing…and will do…for them.  It’s about commitment.

To summarize, I believe a) Kittleman’s present mark of 53% includes a fair number of soft supporters who can and will move to the Ball column, b) that many of the present-day Undecideds are Democrats who haven’t yet made up their mind, but will end up voting for Ball, and c) higher Democratic turnout changes the fundamental model, creating an even more favorable electoral environment for Ball.

In solidarity.

A Note to the Greens

I read with interest Kevin Zeese’s commentary that was published in Maryland Matters today.  It can be found here:

I do not know Mr. Zeese personally, although I am aware of his history in public health advocacy and third party politics.  Unfortunately, his proposed prescription (found in the article’s title) only serves to improve the odds of Governor Hogan’s re-election bid.  This would seem to defeat the cause of progressive governance.

In 2018, Maryland Democrats selected a serious progressive, Ben Jealous, as their gubernatorial nominee.  The party has nominated someone who is running on a platform that includes but is not limited to: free community college for all Marylanders, debt-free college for all 4-year public institutions, a $15 minimum wage, Medicare-for-All, legalizing marijuana for adult use, using reimportation as a means of reducing prescription drug costs, greater investment in public transportation, a smarter and fairer criminal justice system that keeps us safe, more jobs, a reduced state sales tax, and environmental justice.

So why on Earth should any progressive not vote for Jealous?  According to Zeese, if progressives shunned Jealous, that would teach a handful of Democratic insiders a thing or two about not going all-out for the gubernatorial nominee.   But, if Zeese’s approach was successful, who would really pay the bill for this strategy? The answer is not the elites but the middle and working class citizens from across the state who support all or significant parts of Jealous’ policy agenda.

I know some Greens will look upon Jealous as yet another neo-liberal (albeit the most progressive Democrat the party has ever nominated for statewide office) and that many Greens are willing to hold out for 99% of the loaf (which they will never get), despite the fact that a perfectly good half-loaf is right there on the plate waiting for them.  Hot and fresh from the oven...with butter.

Zeese has a point that corporate interests have had an over-sized role in shaping public policy, and that their influence is not limited to Republican circles.  However, we finally have a populist left-of-center gubernatorial nominee in Jealous and yet Zeese is saying, “Nah, progressives should walk away from him.  That’ll show ‘em.”  The logic eludes me…especially in 2018 when Democratic "machines" have been defeated by insurgent progressives in primaries across the country.

Zeese forgets that the Democratic Party is more than a handful of Annapolis politicos, it includes 231,895 voters who cast their primary ballot for Jealous, it includes tens of thousands of progressives who voted for Democratic candidates for Governor other than Jealous.  It includes most of the 818,000+ voters who voted for the Democratic nominee in 2014.  And it includes hundreds of thousands of others with progressive views who may or may not exercise their franchise in the General Election, but whose lives would be improved through the enactment of progressive legislation.  What about them, Mr. Zeese?

This election is going to get closer, most likely much closer, between now and Election Day.  Jealous is going to need every vote he can, and yes, this includes every progressive vote.  While it might feel cathartic and “pure” for Greens to vote for the Schlakman/Chambers ticket, which has zero chance of winning, buyer’s remorse will immediately kick in for many such voters on the day after Election Day…especially if Jealous loses by only a percentage point or two.  Just like those Florida voters who thought it would be swell to vote for Nader in 2000...

Zeese’s article was about governance, which is not easy.  It is not hard to yell from the sidelines.  It is more challenging to forge and maintain a governing majority.  So, Dear Greens, you may not love Jealous but if you want the kind of government that you claim you want, who is going to deliver on the issues that matter most to you?  Jealous or Hogan?

So, to echo Zeese, “Do not take us for granted.” In this case, by “us” I am referring to the millions of Maryland residents who would benefit from the election of a “people-powered” Governor.  As much as I despise the cliché, let us not make the perfect the enemy of the good.   Because, friends, Jealous is darn good and the people can’t afford to take actions that might result in four more years of Hogan-rule.

And yes, that applies “up and down the ballot.”

In solidarity.