Monday, November 06, 2006

Midterm elections: down to the wire

Election Day is tomorrow. After that, for a whole year, no more negative campaign ads, no more "flier people" standing outside Metro stations stumping for their candidates. We will have fulfilled our duty as citizens, and free for the next year to live out our lives with the consequences of our choices.
Living in Montgomery County, MD, the biggest races in my area are for Governor and Senate. All I know here is that the Republican candidates, Ehrlich for governor and his former lieutenant governor Michael Steele for Senate, pretend to support "the people" while supporting pro-corporate legislation. Ehrlich, for example, supported amnesty for corporations, refused to raise the minimum wage, and cut spending for colleges, all while trumping his "working class" background in Arbutus in his ads. Steele's ads were all flash and no substance (even very little of the negative kind), and has some supporters trying to turn the election into a race issue, even getting the Democratic officials of Prince George's County on his side. Ben Cardin, his opponent, voted against the war in Iraq, which, in this time of growing impatience with the President's war effort, is a major selling point for him. In a televised debate (the term is used loosely, the two candidates were not in the same room), Ehrlich's opponent, Martin O'Malley, was clear, succinct, and articulate in his final statement (that's all I saw, so maybe I can't claim a well-rounded view of the debate), outlining his major points, education, crime, and state spending.
Maryland, with mountains in the west, shore on the east, and a big city in the middle, has been called "America in Miniature." A few years ago, that was also true of the state's politics. While President Clinton was contending with the consequences of infidelity (which, in my opinion, should never have been public knowledge in the first place), Maryland's then-governor, Parris Glendening, was having a similar problem. I don't have all the details of the story, but he cheated on his wife, and this caused some more conservative residents and delegates to cry for his removal. When the next election rolled around, Glendening's lieutenant governor ran an ineffective campaign, and, like Vice President Al Gore, was tainted by her former boss's indiscretions. This left the stage clear for Republican Bob Ehrlich to take office. Ehrlich, like George W. Bush, is pro-business and pro-rich, cutting taxes and education spending, while putting on a mask of being "of the people" that runs contrary to their policies and own priviledged backgrounds.
In my family, the animosity toward Ehrlich takes on a more personal tone than our animosity toward Bush. Many years ago, my mother worked at the same law firm as Ehrlich, then an associate attorney. After four years in Columbus Ohio (which I don't recommend), my mother returned to Maryland to discover that the man she hated at her old law firm was now the governor. She knows first-hand his phoniness, how he claims to be "working class," but, she says, "He went to more private schools than Bush." A bit of gossip from my mother and Ehrlich's old firm: according to the other associates' wives, Ehrlich's wife is a total bitch.
There ends my Election Day special. I should probably get back to work.

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