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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Limiting Democracy

Roy Meachum

Since coming to Frederick, the highest turnout I recall approached 80 percent for a national-state election. City races frequently attract less than 30 percent of registered voters. New Delegate Kathy Afzali's proposal last week would further depress the numbers.

The statistics were already in dangerous figures for hopes of retaining vital democracy in this republic. When asked the reason for their failure to appear at the polls, men and women cite distractions, other activities or apathy towards politics. Ignorance of issues and people leads the list. One friend waves aside the question, "I have no time for all of that."

In a column on Egypt Friday, I grasped for straws that Washington might curtail--hopefully even stop--its puppet role in the Middle East. I love our country more than Israel. I am not anti- Semitic, but very pro-America. But I blamed my countrymen's nearly total lack of interest in the oil-rich region, not domestic Jewish lobbies.

Last year's state and county elections--by no means a record turnout--rejected veteran politicians in favor of younger or different politicians, including former News-Post columnist Afzali.

To recap:

Seemingly reacting to the national hyped-up disappointment, Frederick chose an all-Republican slate Board of County Commissioners; but not every GOP incumbent.

J. Leonard Thompson. Jr. was packed off home, but only after egregiously dictatorial moves that caused me, in an early News-Post column, to compare his methods with the route Adolph Hitler followed into Germany's control and launching World War II.

Did I employ hyperbole? Youbetcha! All lesser forms of disapproval failed. Utterly.

Fortunately, at the state senate level, the District Three constituency narrowly chose Frederick's veteran mayor Ron Young over free-spending incumbent Alex Mooney. The much younger man held onto the seat for years because of out-of-county, out-of-state funding.

Instead of retiring gracefully—a word apparently out of place in his vocabulary—my erstwhile "littlest fascist" bamboozled Maryland Republican central committee. He promised his personal legerdemain with money would shower over other GOP contests. (Mooney protégé Michael Hough paraded into Annapolis' General Assembly, principally on his mentor's cash.)

The ex-senator's very first move of note was to blackmail his former colleagues, by suggesting he would withhold support if they elected District Four's David Brinkley for returning to his well-earned minority leader's post. The county's respected senator easily won another four years.

Fortunately in the Republican flood, city voters retained the experience and wisdom of Delegate Galen Clagett, a survivor of Frederick's vicious machine politics. The flood brought a bonus in the form of the election of Patrick Hogan to the House of Delegates; Sue Hecht retired.

The move to youth hurt the county's best interests when delegation chairman Paul Stull was defeated, in the GOP primary, by wannabe Afzali. On the basis of returned votes, Kelly Schulz beat out her competitor in the November finals.

As a columnist, Delegate Afzali always struck me as elitist, which I attributed to her feeling of inferiority. I did not support her editorially. Living in the city, my residence does not come into her purview. On the other hand, I happily endorsed and supported Delegate Schulz's race.

By forwarding for enactment a bill demanding voters appearing at polls must produce government-issued photo identification to verify their registration, the former columnist proved my apprehension of elitism. Obviously, she trusts politically no one different than she wants to be. While rendering lip-service to the Constitution, she denies the principles that wrote it. "We the People" are very much limited to the people she chooses.

Believers in this great country and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers can only hope cooler and more equitable heads—both female and male—prevail. In Annapolis.

Democracy is much too precious to be squandered for a demagogue's fancy.


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