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.