Maryland is one of the strongholds of Democratic Party rule in the country, quite progressive and with a highly educated electorate, and yet it has not passed inclusive employment protections. Why?
It may be because the Party there is controlled by a machine that only elects timid, right-leaning candidates.
Dr. Dana Beyer is a progressive candidate for the state legislature running in the 18th District, which has a population of about 110,000 and covers Chevy Chase, Kensington, Wheaton, and Silver Spring.
She has an excellent chance of election, having walked through every neighborhood in her district, every precinct, meeting and winning over the electorate with her progressive agenda. She has a long history of political involvement, has a cogent and persuasive stance on the local issues, and she's been endorsed by Equality Maryland, a state-wide LGBT organization, and the Victory Fund. The Washington Blade recently featured her as one of "10 People Who Make Us Proud." She came within about 1000 votes of victory in her 2006 run for the same office.
But instead of supporting her, the Democratic Party has backed the three incumbents who haven't done much for progressive causes. Is Beyer too progressive for the machine? Is the Maryland Democratic Party not ready for a transgender Delegate?
The primary election will be held on September 14. If you believe in progressive politics, please support Dana Beyer by clicking here. It's not the amount that you contribute. It's the fact that you contribute at all that's important. We will start to win our political battles to the extent that we have a presence in politics.
More about Maryland progressive politics, or lack thereof, after the jump.
Beyer, a former aide to Montgomery County Councilmember Duchy Tractenberg, has campaigned for Robert Kennedy, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell, and earned a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She has offered her medical services in Kenya, the Himalayan foothills, and to low-income patients in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Maryland's Congressional incumbents are in trouble in the coming midterm elections because of this anti-progressive Party agenda. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, one of Maryland's Congressional delegation, didn't vote for the hate crimes bill, and he and Rep. Frank Kratovil aren't coming out for ENDA, either. On the state level, there's been no movement on an inclusive workplace protections bill.
When I asked Dr. Beyer about this, she said that the attitude of the average person is "We voted for change, now let's see some." They want progressive government, but the choices they're offered by the Party represent machine politics.
Maryland has a right-leaning Blue-Dog kind of government because of the Democratic machine. It hasn't changed much since the 80s, where the Dems are running scared because of Republican talking points, although Republicans have no power there. The Senate President is the longest-serving Senate President in the United States, and seems to still be living in the Reagan era. There are no Republican candidates in the 18th District. In fact, the Maryland Senate is 73% Democratic. There's no need to veer to the center or face losing an election. And yet, timid Democrats reign there. Why?
When a machine runs politics, eliminating the need to actually represent the people, the electorate becomes as apathetic and timid as its leaders.
During this past year, the state's Attorney General, Doug Gansler, opined that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. What was the story in the media? It wasn't that Maryland is moving forward into the 21st century, or that the political machine endorsed his move. No, the big story was that he, surprise, surprise, did anything considered progressive, because it happens so rarely. It came as something of a shock to legislators who had seen a different Gansler in the three years since he entered statewide office. They were upset that recognizing same sex marriage might overshadow other issues, and wanted it quashed. It's this kind of thinking that accounts for the fact that there is no marriage equality or trans protection on the books in Maryland.
When I asked Beyer why she's running in a crowded field, she said that she wants to create change, a position that's never popular with a comfortable machine-style politics.
I'm running to make a change for my neighbors. I want to bring progressive change, and to create an America that I expected when I was my children's age. I want to give them the America I never had.
Consistent with this, she has fought for the public healthcare option, and will introduce a bill in the legislature to fight the Maryland insurance duopoly, a cartel that controls insurance terms and rates in the state.
She will move to change the tax structure, to ensure that corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Because many corporations are incorporated in Delaware, they can avoid Maryland taxes, even though they do business in the state and their presence in Maryland costs taxpayers money to provide infrastructure support. Maryland desperately needs money to rebuild its infrastructure and particularly to improve mass transit. The Maryland Democratic machine seems afraid to raise money from taxation because of Republican talking points, even though Republicans have no power in the state.
This is another example of a party that seeks power only for the purpose of retaining power, not to actually use that power for good.
Let the Maryland infrastructure sink into the earth, but let's not actually use the political power given by the people to make their lives more decent.
Beyer is concerned about recent studies showing that the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the U.S. own over 40% of the nation's wealth, and that they earn over 20% of the nation's income.
"Unless we can raise money from people who can afford to pay and who have an ethical responsibility to pay, we will not be able to provide services, like police, fire, and road maintenance. The pothole budget is empty, and lots of people are having to get their wheels replaced. There's a $2 billion budget hole. Maryland just lost $389 million in Medicaid funding for next year. We're heading for big trouble. We've dodged the Greater Depression, but no one's willing to spend any money, which causes deflation. We need corporations and the wealthy to pay their taxes. They're hoarding it, not spending it. I've taken to walking though local neighborhoods during the day to meet people, because there are so many unemployed who are sitting at home, and often without air conditioning because they can't afford the bill. These are people in their 40s and 50s who have never been unemployed in their lives. This is a recession unlike any other we've experienced. People are not viewing this with the degree of seriousness necessary.
In addition to supporting expansion of public transportation, and ensuring that Maryland corporations and millionaires pay their fair share of taxes, she's also in favor of giving some teeth to Maryland's "smart growth" laws that have been largely ineffective. Smart growth laws are designed to reduce the worst effects of uncontrolled urban and and suburban growth, like traffic congestion, overdevelopment, environmental pollution, malls and "big box" stores that kill the local economy, poor education due to overcrowded schools, and unemployment. They've been enacted in Maryland, but not really used effectively.
I believe that Dana Beyer deserves our support as a progressive politician. We will start to win our progressive political battles to the extent that we have a presence in politics. Click here to voice your support today.
Remember, it's not the amount you contribute that's important.
It's that you give a damn.