Thursday, June 7, 2012
The late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is said to have originated the phrase, “All politics is local.” To the extent that he was right, it’s unfortunate. Understandable maybe, but unfortunate because of what says about Americans when they vote for candidates running for the House, the Senate or President.
Speaker O’Neill’s catch phrase is a blatant insult to the intelligence of our electorate, the voters of Maryland’s Second Congressional District included. It assumes that voters don’t understand that they’ve elected Dutch Ruppersberger to a national office, and not to their county council or to the position of County Executive which he held for two terms in Baltimore County beginning in 1994. County Executives are all about local issues. Our Representatives, on the other hand, are supposed to be responsible for making laws related to our national security, the economy, education, heath care and other determinants of the qualify of our lives – laws which impact the Congressional District, but that are national in scope.
Whether he meant it that way or not, Tip O’Neill was telling you, the voter, that you’re too dumb to get it, and that’s both insulting and ridiculous. Sadly, Dutch Ruppersberger is counting on Tip being right.
Do voters not get the distinction? Do voters not appreciate that the same person who may (or may not) have been an effective County Executive more than a decade ago, may not be suited, intellectually and otherwise, to deal with problems on a national scale? Well, of course voters get it. So why has Dutch Ruppersberger, whose performance in the House is so disappointing, continued to be elected by such substantial margins, as the table below shows?
Are the voters really so dimwitted – Of course they’re not, but say with me. – as to say to the themselves, “Gee, Dutch is such a great guy. So why our government such a mess?” Of course not. Dutch Ruppersberger probably is a great guy, but that’s irrelevant, isn’t it? Great guy or not, the point is that he’s in over-his-head when in comes to legislating the national economic, fiscal and social (education, health care, etc.) programs that Second District families depend upon for their jobs, their income, their children’s education and where they’ll work when they graduate, and for their families’ health care.
So why does Congressman Ruppersberger keep getting elected? The simple answers are that District 2 voters, absent any real alternative and definitive knowledge of what Dutch Ruppersberger has been doing (or not doing) in Washington, have been voting their party affiliation. And money. Let’s not forget about the huge advantage incumbent campaigns have in the money department.
What’s different this time? Well, for one thing, Congressman Ruppersberger has a superior opponent in Maryland State Senator Nancy Jacobs who, by virtue of her intellect and proven expertise as a legislator, fully appreciates what she needs to accomplish in Washington.
Educating the voters of the Second District about Dutch Ruppersberger’s ineffectiveness in Congress is up to Nancy Jacob’s campaign, the Next Contestant blog, the media and the voters themselves upon whom it is incumbent, pun intended, to read everything they can and ask the right questions. Whether he meant it that way or not, Tip O’Neill was mocking you, telling you, the voters of Maryland’s Second Congressional District that you didn’t have the vision, the intelligence, to see past Congressman Ruppersberger’s good-guy persona to vote for the candidate, regardless of party affiliation, who will do more to help your families. You know what I think? I think Tip didn’t spend enough time in Maryland.
Oh, and when “Dutch,” as he likes us to call him, reminds you in his ads that “He’s one of us,” ask yourself two things. The first is whether or not you make $174,000 a year, plus some excellent heath care and other benefits including a great retirement plan, and work in a really nice office with an extensive staff to support you. (Is that you?) The second is, what difference does it make? You can do better.
Nothing personal. It’s only business. Replacing non-performing incumbents with more competent replacements, who go to Washington with a fresh mandate, is what elections are for. And I promise you this. Elect Nancy Jacobs and, if she doesn’t do her job in the House, two years from now I’ll be encouraging you to replace her. And we’ll keep doing that until “they,” the people we send to Washington to represent us, get it right.