Several prominent Republican columnists, fed up with President Trump’s mendacity and his congressional enablers, are making an unusual recommendation: vote for Democrats. Calling Speaker of the House Paul Ryan “one of the president’s poodles”, George Will’s column, “Vote against the GOP this November”, says the number of Republicans in Congress must be “substantially reduced.” Jennifer Rubin says that “unless more moderate views can prevail (in Congress), Republicans will have to vote for Democrats.” Michael Gerson agrees. “The only way to save the GOP is defeat it,” he says, recommending that “GOP voters should vote for Democrats.”
The nation is experiencing a critical moment in history. 102 million eligible voters did not vote in 2016. Only 37 percent voted in the 2014 midterms. As a result of this apathy, we find that our democratic institutions and basic standards of honesty and decency are now under assault by Republican majorities in both houses and their empowering of Trump’s behavior in the White House. As we have witnessed, democracy does not function well when one party controls Congress and the White House, and by extension, the Supreme Court. To protest, Democrats, Independents, and reasonable Republicans can participate in marches, go to town halls, contact their representatives, and complain on social media. But if they don’t vote, it doesn’t matter.
We are fortunate to live in Maryland, a state that makes every effort to make it easy for its citizens to vote. There are no unreasonable voter ID laws, a substantial early voting window (October 25-November 1), a liberal absentee voting and provisional ballot system, easy access to the polls, and easy registration. Contrast this to states such as Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where voter ID laws are so restrictive they have kept tens of thousands of minorities, students, the poor and elderly from voting in 2016 (17,000 in Wisconsin in 2016, a state that narrowly went for Trump). These are states where the number of polling places have been substantially reduced, usually in minority areas, causing discouragingly long lines and hours of waiting to vote. This happens nearly exclusively in GOP controlled states. Voting for Democrats can change this unconscionable voter suppression.
In Talbot County, Republicans, Independents and Democrats can change the “same old, same old” way we have operated for decades. You can vote for veteran Jesse Colvin (a veteran of four tours of Afghanistan), who has attracted broad bipartisan support for his intellect and service to his country, in Congressional District One to replace the thoroughly ineffectual Andy Harris. You can also vote for the vitality and intellectual curiosity of Holly Wright for State Senate 37 to replace the tired conservatism of Addie Eckardt. Dan O’Hare will bring new energy as State Delegate 37B, defeating the useless Chris Adams. Keasha Haythe, Pete Lesher, Rose Potter, Naomi Hyman, and Maureen Scott-Taylor will replace a group of blindly pro-development Talbot County Council Republicans who seem hell-bent on destroying the tranquility of Talbot County, while laden with disturbing conflicts of interests. Bishop Joel Johnson and Phil Foster bring a wealth of dedicated experience to the Orphans Court, and along with Wanda Green as sheriff, bring a century of distinguished service to Talbot County.
We need Ben Cardin to continue to defend Maryland’s interests in the US Senate. Ben Jealous will bring his experience as a Rhodes Scholar and leader of the national NAACP, as well as his dynamic energy as our next Governor. As Attorney General, Brian Frosh has been the first line of defense protecting Maryland from the effects of Trump’s travel ban, the rollback of environmental regulations, and the assault on Maryland’s health insurance. He deserves to be re-elected.
Congressional Republicans, if you read Andy Harris’ campaign materials, hope to make the midterms about fake news, sanctuary cities, MS-13, the “deep state”, a corrupt justice system, the immigrant “infestation” of America, and fear and division. The GOP once believed in fiscal discipline, but has blown a trillion dollar hole in the budget, further widening the gap between rich and poor. They used to believe in free trade, but tariffs are being imposed as far as the eye can see, and with Andy Harris’ support, have created a big hurt to the Eastern Shore economy. The GOP once subscribed to free markets, but now watch spinelessly as their president badgers the Federal Reserve Board and individual companies that don’t please him. The GOP has betrayed its history. Small wonder that less than 30 per cent of registered voters identify as Republicans, and those numbers continue to decline.
There is a lot going on nationwide, in Maryland, the Eastern Shore, and Talbot County. Gripe as much as you want about some or all these governing bodies. Then get out and vote – for Democrats.
Richard Calkins is a former president and current chair of the communications committee of the Talbot County Democratic Forum. He writes from Tilghman.