Matt McDaniel

5 minute read

Let’s get one thing pretty clear right off the bat: no one has a monopoly on being right. People of good conscience can disagree, fiercely, about important issues. This isn’t a mere platitude, rather, it underscores so much of our American form of Government.

This article isn’t going to be focused on national issues or national figures. Rather, what we need to focus on is the big problems brewing in Annapolis with the Maryland General Assembly.

Currently, in Annapolis, Democrats control an over-60% majority in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate. There are several factors outside of voting that have contributed to this apportionment. The most important one is the concentration of legislative districts in Washington DC suburb counties. While ostensibly based on population, the fact that the legislative districts were drawn by the former Democratic Administration with input from a super-majority of Democrats in the General Assembly provides enough circumstantial evidence to suggest, perhaps, lines were drawn to maximize Democratic representation.

It’s best not to be naïve here and think that this gerrymandering (we’ll call it what it is) is just a problem perpetrated in the dark of night by Maryland Democrats. Rather, it’s become a modern political privilege for the ruling Party in most every State in the Country. In fact, given the map of the United States, Democrats are more likely to be on the receiving end of partisan gerrymandering than Republicans. As we noted at the outset, we’re sticking with Maryland here, but it’s important to recognize the problems that the State faces aren’t merely related to the actions of one Party.

The problem isn’t having people duly elected to represent the people of Maryland. Rather, it’s what they do with the power that they’re given. See, the Maryland General Assembly gets the prerogative, like most legislatures, to override vetoes of the Executive (in Maryland’s case, the Governor). The United States Congress has a similar power.

The right to override a veto is enshrined in Maryland’s Constitution, Art. II, sec. 17. Without diving into the heady language, it basically says that a three-fifths vote by both the House of Delegates and the Senate can force a bill to become law despite the Governor’s disapproval. This isn’t really that controversial, in theory. However, in practice, given the fact that the Democrats in Maryland control over three-fifths of the seats in both Houses of the General Assembly, it has led to the abuse of the legislative process.

The General Assembly has wielded this power with impunity over the past several years. The Governor’s veto is an effective check on bad legislation. Moreover, given that the Governor has been working tirelessly to fortify the State’s financial situation, irresponsible legislation can undermine the State’s stability. Most recently, the General Assembly forced through legislation that has the potential to slam Marylanders with higher energy costs (under the left-wing feel-good notion that this will support “green energy”).

More than just pushing through veto overrides, the Maryland State Senate pushed forward a hyper-partisan piece of legislation to curry favor with left-wing agitators in the State who have demanded that, for some reason, Maryland’s State legislators should oppose the President of the United States. We all understand the politics: Democrats want to undermine the Republicans and they are still smarting over the walloping they took nationally when Americans of all stripes came together to repudiate identity politics and leftist ideology. Republican State Senators, opposing the resolution that would empower the Attorney General of Maryland to have vast discretion to issue partisan attacks against the Trump Administration, walked out of the hearing.

Here’s the problem, because Democrats control such an overwhelming majority in the State Senate, there was nothing that the walkout really accomplished. Sure, it was a strong expression that the Democrats were pursuing a purely political attack (that, obviously, could result in reprisals from Washington), but, because the Senate could still function, there was little reason for the Democrats to even attempt to compromise. We also know that this legislation would force a showdown with Governor Larry Hogan who Democrats have seen as staying quiet over the Trump Administration. Forcing his hand, Democrats think, will get him on record so they can attack him in 2018.

Compromise, in most contexts, really isn’t a dirty word. Sure, our politics, nationally, is hyper-partisan. Especially now when everyone seems to be offended by everything, there’s not really a whole lot of voices calling for deliberation (at least not voices that can rise above the clickbait cacophony of the news cycle). Sitting down and talking isn’t sexy and it doesn’t draw headlines.

However, Marylanders have the opportunity to force compromise in their government in a way that, nationally, is less-likely. Marylanders can, in 2018, vote for Larry Hogan and local Republican legislators. Now, like we discussed, because of partisan gerrymandering in Maryland, this isn’t likely to land the Republicans in control of either the House of Delegates or the General Assembly. Frankly, that’s not what I’d be calling for, anyhow. What we want to see is the Republican Party having a seat at the table.

If there is a bad veto by the Governor, it should be overridden in a bipartisan way. If there is a debate that gets so partisan that a whole Party is forced off of the floor, deliberations should be brought to a halt. Forcing our legislators to compromise is something that rests in the power of Maryland’s voters.

In just the two examples we talked about here, in just a month, in overriding Governor’s vetoes and the Democrat’s attack on the Trump Administration, we have seen a distressing amount of partisanship that does not adequately reflect the interests of Marylanders. Rather than allow for partisan gerrymandering to shift the balance of power in the State towards only one Party, it is critically important that people who want to see good government take a long, hard look at the way that can be accomplished. One way immediately jumps out: vote Republicans into the legislature in 2018.