Editorial: Congressman Harris’ First Year in Office

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Prior to Andy Harris’ election in 2010, the Spy endorsed his opponent Frank Kratovil, but we did so with far less enthusiasm than we had expected as a result of his vote against the Obama health care reform act. While there was a good bit to admire about Mr. Kratovil (and still is), many moderates and progressives felt he had betrayed his principles by voting against better health care protection for his constituents. The Spy shared that point of view.

Sticking to one’s principles is an important thing to respect in a politician, and this is particularly true on the Eastern Shore. The region’s admiration for Wayne Gilchrest and Harry Hughes are just two significant examples of the high regard we have for those who stand tall against the status quo.

And in some ways, Dr. Harris’ first year in Congress has shown the type of tenacity which compares well with other independent Maryland leaders we admire and respect. Congressman Harris has remained rock firm, sometimes against enormous political pressure, in not compromising on matters involving the national debt limit and budget reductions for entitlement programs.

So it is difficult to find fault with this kind of political courage. And yet, sadly, we do.

Dr. Harris, while he has indeed stuck to his convictions, has also repeatedly used, or been party to, political strategies that have demeaned our system of government and threatened the good faith and credit of our country. The consequences of which have been extremely disruptive for our economy and in building the financial confidence of our people.

Since the beginning of of 2011, Dr. Harris has joined a special minority of Congress that believes that blowing things up is the only way to create change in Washington. By throwing legislative fire bombs and ultimatums, there is a belief that this form of self-destructiveness can somehow accomplish what hard bipartisan work can not. These strategies are used in revolutions not in mature democracies.

It would be disingenuous to suggest the congressman is lacking in intelligence in this regard. As his recent endorsement of Newt Gingrich for president suggests, he comes from a school of political thought that is expansive with ideas and economic theory. Anyone hearing Dr. Harris’ presentation on national debt, or the role of government, should acknowledge his intellectual conviction in this new paradigm for America.

Nonetheless, at the core, the Harris prescription to quickly and dramatically dismantle the power and role of the federal government is dangerous to our country, nor does it reflect the 1st District’s best interests.

Much can happen in a year. After Representative Kratovil’s first twelve months, the congressman appeared to be in step with his convictions and his voting record. It is hypothetically possible that in 2012, Dr. Harris might use his capacity for critical thinking and return to the world of ideological common sense.

In the meantime, we hope that Dr. Harris will come to understand that the Hippocratic Oath’s great precept “do no harm” holds true for governance as is does for medicine.

Letters to Editor

  1. Mary Wood says:

    Thank you for this, especially the reminder of the Hippocratic Oath Mr.Harris surely had to swear before he got his license to practice. My hope for 2012 is a congress that will work to help our nation, not tear it down.

  2. Keith Thompson says:

    Two paragraphs jump out at me…

    “Since the beginning of of 2011, Dr. Harris has joined a special minority of Congress that believes that blowing things up is the only way to create change in Washington. By throwing legislative fire bombs and ultimatums, there is a belief that this form of self-destructiveness can somehow accomplish what hard bipartisan work can not. These strategies are used in revolutions not in mature democracies.”

    “Much can happen in a year. After Representative Kratovil’s first twelve months, the congressman appeared to be in step with his convictions and his voting record. It is hypothetically possible that in 2012, Dr. Harris might use his capacity for critical thinking and return to the world of ideological common sense.”

    In response to the first paragraph…I think there is some validity to the idea that blowing things up is the only way to create change in Washington. In order to fight the status quo, you must offer an alternative to the status quo. That brings me to the second paragraph…in order to offer an alternative to the status quo, I you must offer something in the way of ideological common sense and that’s where I find that Harris falls short.

  3. Lainey Harrison says:

    Somebody show me one thing Harris has done that does not involve the word NO.

    Saying NO is easy.
    Doing something would be hard.
    Harris has done nothing.

  4. Jack Offett says:

    Sure we need and still need healthcare reform. The healthcare reform bill was a bad bill. It may be ruled Unconstitutional and the Obama Administration has already backed off an $800 billion piece of it. Those two points understate the flaws. People commenting in and on this paper ragged mercilessly on Frank Kratovil. You made your own bed. And now with redistricting (by the Democratic legislature) we will all be stuck with Andy Harris until he chooses to retire. While I voted against Andy Harris twice, at least he has a mind. He looks more attractive every day–

  5. Lainey Harrison says:

    Oh Jack say it isnt so! What could you find attractive about Harris???? Please help me understand this man’s value to our country.

    Kratovil wrote and got passed many bills that helped the Eastern Shore and the USA in general. He was instrumental in saving our local car dealers when corporate was going to shut them down. He wrote a bill to expand startup deductions from 5k to 25k for small businesses. That is huge in this stagnant economy. He found HB visa workers for our ailing seafood industry. I could go on and on. But of course, Kratovil wasnt blue enough for the dems of this district and wasnt red enough for the republicans, so a good reasonable moderate went down.

    Please someone, show me something Harris has done for us or the USA. Heck, I questioned Dick Sossi about Harris’ support for the overpass at US 301/304. Sossi said “Harris supports it”. I asked what Harris was doing to support it and guess what? He is doing nothing. He conveniently hides behind the lame excuse that this is a state issue. He sits on Transportation and Infastructure Committee and this is an interstate highway, yet he is doing nothing. Lip service is cheap and easy. I want action, not lip service. A week ago or so I got a “paid from taxpayers expense” glossy color printed postcard announcing Andy’s stance against flush and gas taxes on the State level. Are you kidding me with this? Does the man not know he has no say in State issues anymore, he is a federel level now???? He should be concerned with the mess on his own plate, but I guess he gets a better sound bite out of criticizing others, rather than actually doing something.

    What has that man done? Anybody?

  6. He is helping the Postal Service with mass mailings and the phone company with robocalls, all from a person who ran with an anti-franking agenda. More in line with Trotsky’s “Violence is the shortest distance between two points” than with the Hippocratic oath, he has “NO” accomplishments. He and his expensive staff should be fired and we should elect a Parrot that’s trained to say “NO”, and pay it with bird food. We can invest the savings we’ll see in real progress.

  7. D Lamotte says:

    Harris is a sad reminder of what has happened to the GOP. A friend told me she was at an event with Sen. Danforth and Sen. Warner when both men embraced and asked: “what has happened to our Party?!”
    This new group is more concerned with eliminating women’s reproductive rights, ignoring high inequality, are obsessed with gay people( GOP-“Gay Obsessed Party”), and live in a zero-sum – rigid orthodoxy- world.
    They love their trench warfare. They have the gall to believe they embody the philosophy of Ronald Reagan. Sorry but he know bipartisan cooperation is a part of the American political process.

    There is not a statesman among this group.

  8. The social direction in which we seem to be heading reminds me so much of Middle East Theocracies.

  9. Jack Offett says:

    Several Federal Transportation bills ago, a decision was made to try and reduce the number of earmarks by providing more funding directly to state transportation agencies to be spent in accordance with state-designated priorities. Now that there is an earmark ban in Congress, that decision has even more of an importance in the designation of Federal funds than before. Those who want an overpass (or any other transportation project) would do best to have the overpass included in the state’s short-term, medium-term or long-term transportation plan. Rep. Harris could write a letter of support for the project, but ultimately, it would have no legal effect.

    As for Harris’ accomplishments, give me a break. I supported Kratovil twice, but what freshman Congressman really ever has any accomplishments? Further, given the current state of divided government, the paucity of any legislative vehicle to pass both the House and Senate depresses the chances of any legislator, Democrat or Republican, from seeing an initiative enacted into law at this time.

  10. Jack Offett says:

    Harris does have one interesting bipartisan bill (3 Republicans including himself, 7 Democrats), which could get attached to something and passed into law. H.R.2484, The Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act. Given the damage wrought to our waterways and marine life by algae blooms, perhaps that’s something we could all support.

    As far a Joe Lill’s comment that we are heading into a Middle Age Theocracy, I see no evidence of it. There’s a lot of talk on both sides, but there is no legislation filed, pending, or which will be adopted, which would establish a theocracy around here–or anything close. Take Michele Bachmann for example; she positions herself as a conservative Christian and as a result, earns the ire of many in the “We’re entering a Theocracy” set. But take a look at the legislation she’s filed. It has to do with healthcare, financial services, energy efficiency…the same topics of concern to people all across the political spectrum. There is no legislation inspired by Deuteronomy that I can find, so perhaps the secular folks (and I am one) would do better to think critically and stop hurling invectives.

    And as far as D Lamotte and others wondering “What has happened to the Republican Party?” Many people wonder the same about the Democratic Party and its excesses. I’m not sure either party ever has been, is now, or ever will be above reproach. Ah well.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. Mathew 5:9. 🙂

  11. Jack Butler says:

    Andy Harris is another sad example of a too far right Republican who uses fiscal responsibility as an excuse to advance a Tea Party agenda that is filled with regressive social and environmental policies. As a life long Republican, I am embarrased to be associated with the Newt Gingrich’s, Christine O’Donnell’s, and Rick Santorum’s of the world. They claim to suuport the Constitution while trying to advance a dangerous religious agenda. Andy Harris does not seem to fall into their ilk, but an endorsement of Gingrich?

    To those of us who want to see President Obama defeated in November, remember the lessons of that last Senate race in Deleware. The seat was ours to lose. By calling Mike Castle “moderate” we gave the seat to a true liberal who will be in DC for years to come. A nomination of Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum will send educated woman to the left, and keep most independent voters at home come election day. For those of you looking for leadership that will focus on the people’s business, Mitt Romney is our best shot.

  12. Bill Sylvester says:

    It would seem that based on what I read Harris is the evil ultra right wing politico that the left loves to hate and would use as their poster child. I was buying into it. As a farmer, however, Andy Harris received the highest marks for supporting legislation that supported agriculture in 2011. The only legislator who came close was Roscoe Bartlett in western Maryland. The biggest joke was Ben Cardin. He consistently voted against us. I didn’t vote for Harris in the last election. I may next time.

  13. Patrick Skip Bushby says:

    Harris defined himself with his first words on his first day: ” Where’s mine?”

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