Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Over - Laurel's Redistricting Approved

Political parties are like gangs.  They take good elected officials and force them to do things against their best interests, their better judgement and sometimes the interests of their districts.  All political parties are guilty.

I also believe that, just like gangs, elected officials turn to parties because we are not paying attention.  We don't provide what a healthy democracy needs to survive.  We, by and large, are not politically involved with our communities anymore.  Politics is boring.  Policy issues are complicated.  We don't have time.  So our elected officials turn to their party for protection, money and esteem. It's our fault.

Today, our 21st District legislators voted for the governor's redistricting plan in the final vote.  That plan moves Laurel into the new 4th district.  They had to vote for it, their party demanded it. 

Earlier in the day they voted FOR an amendment that would have changed the map to move Laurel back into the 5th district.  That was a courageous vote and I applaud their bravery and thank them for standing up against their party.  That amendment failed 26-107.  Your concern and encouragement helped them make that stand.

But this problem is not really about our 21st district delegation.  It's not about redistricting.  This issue is a symptom of a much bigger disease.  This is about the corrosive nature of party politics in our state and our nation.  These party gangs are corroding our elected officials and through them hurting our communities. 

It's unfortunate that the 21st delegation was thrown under the bus and forced to defend their party's awful map.  I know that some of them are upset with me personally for pointing that out.  It's uncomfortable under the bus. I agree with them that this is not a fair issue.  They were thrown between their party and us.

So what are we to do?  The redistricting issue is over.  We had a minor success.  For one courageous vote, our delegation turned their backs on their party.  That's a first step.  We need to find more opportunities.

We must continue to keep watch.  Frush, Rosapepe, Barnes and Pena-Melnyk are good, smart and hardworking people.  We must keep looking for issues where we help all of our elected officials fight off excessive partisan pressure.   We can give them money, give them protection and give them hope.  Democracy only works if we all stay involved. 

In my mind, it's the only way we get our leaders back from the gangs. 

Best Regards,



Lea Assbeyen said...

What I don't understand is that its not like, say, Barnes or another member of the Delegation really NEEDED to vote for this.

Was this simply a vote to show party unity? What is the compelling reason to vote for this... since it seemingly comes at such a hit to our community? Was the Delegation promised anything in return for Laurel, or do they just not care?

I know that voting against leadership can bring internal turmoil down the road, which means in the long road, our Delegation might not be able to bring home the bacon in other ways. But to crassly invent a lameduck amendment just to give yourselves cover from your home base? Come onnnnnn. Have some cojones Ben Barnes

Anonymous said...

No, this isn't our fault. Who even knew about this before last week? Our elected officials have no problem robocalling us long before its even close to election time, asking for our vote. How about letting us know about this and asking for feedback long before the vote comes up>

Rick Wilson said...

Lee: This is a tough business. These gangs have a strong influence. Cross the gang and you are no longer effective. They will kill you politically. Our delegates are good people being whipped by a terrible system. If we eliminate the power of the gangs, we might get them back. They are worth saving.

Rick Wilson said...

Anon: You make a very good point. I hope the next time there is bad news, we will get a call.

Karen said...

Rick is very generous about our delegation. They likely had a deal that they could raise a likely-to-fail amendment to pacify an enraged constituency. But the whole event left a bad taste in at least this mouth from the top leadership in the state on down -- and I don't think we're the only district to feel that way.

Rick Wilson said...

Thanks Karen. I have found that it's rarely the people and it's often the system. Fix the system and the people will inspire you.

Sidney Moore said...

Our elected representatives voted against the desire of the people of Laurel to remain a contiguous political and social community. Next time they are up for election, let's vote against their desire to have their cake (party approval) and eat it too (get reelected).
Sidney Moore

Anonymous said...

Though I have always enjoyed a tasty pacifier in the privacy of my own home, that amendment this morning only added insult to injury.
Therefore, I will join the ranks of the uninformed and become a one issue voter. Those four nincompoops have received my last vote.

Rick Wilson said...

Sidney, Anon: It's not the people, it's the system we need to throw out. We need to take our government back from the party apparatus.

Holly Hoglund said...

Saying its the system is the "out" for everything - no one is at fault ever for anything. If enough people don't go along with the gang, there won't be gang power and the system will then change.

Those 4 reps had a choice with their vote - a hard one admittedly, but no one had a gun to their heads. They could have stood up and said no - and maybe it would have meant dire political repercussions, but they may have that anyway from their constituents. At least we deserve some explanations - not silence.

Rick Wilson said...

Holly: I think that we will all be better prepared the next time there is a difficult issue. I'm sure the delegation will reach out to us and we now have a better path to them. The technology we have available makes it easy. We just need to use it.

Rick Wilson said...

Delegate Ben Barnes provided a long thoughtful response so I gave him his own post on the blog. You will find it at its own page here:

Anonymous said...

Rick, you keep talking about the system? All politics is local. What are we supposed to do, hack into the Matrix? Start Occupy Laurel?

I tend to agree with Holly Hoglund. All we can do as individuals is focus on the electeds who represent us. To separate them from 'the system' is fanciful.

Not to resort to this kneejerk 'throw the bums out!' talk, but I think it's really a fine line. Change doesn't trickle down from the top, it starts from the bottom... you can't indict the 'system' in such a blanketed way, not sure what the implication for change is.

Ben Barnes, your thoughts on reform please.

Dana Schwartz said...

How about a bulk order?


Sidney Moore said...

I would buy a shirt but the message needs to be more specific---something like the following: Laurel Wants OUT of District #4

Sidney Moore said...

Rick: You have been rubbing elbows with the POLs in Annapolis too long. Haven't you noticed, no one cares about the "system" or the "party" anymore. They belong in the Jurassic with the other dinosaurs. All politics is local.

Bob Bain said...

Rick - I'm sorry to disagree with you. Our Delegation was not "courageous" when they voted against the amendment. I'm sure they know it was going to fail so they made the symbolic gesture to try to save some face. I stand by what I said before: They ALL choose partisan politics over their DUTY to those they represent in order to turn Maryland into a one party State, and the heck with our opinions. And as for Mr. Barnes scolding us for our lack of understanding of the process, I for one will voice my opinion of him in the only way left in a semi-free society, at the ballot box.

Rick Wilson said...

Sidney: Perhaps you are right. You often have a better sense of things than me. I really don't know what to think anymore.

Bob: I would not ever be sorry to disagree with me. Most people find it to be very profitable, just ask my wife. I would not call Ben's comments scolding. He's just expressing his opinion like the rest of us. I give him a lot of credit for having the courage to publicly engage the little rabid group here on the Laurel internets.

Anon: I like the idea of hacking into the matrix to fix the system. It could work. I honestly don't have a better idea how to fix it.


Thanks again to everyone that took the time to comment here, email the list serves, or to call to yell at me in person. This has been an enlightening experience. Laurel is a wonderful place to live and these are interesting times to live here.

I've decided it's time for me to think about something else for a bit. I want an opportunity to reflect. So I'll be real quiet here and I will listen more. I'm sure that there will be another issue that brings us all together again. Thanks again to you all!