I first met Andy Harris in Easton, Maryland in 2010 at an event organized by the then burgeoning “Tea Party” movement. Much maligned and smeared in the subsequent portrayals, the Tea Party was nothing more than a grassroots movement organized around two focal issues: escalating national debt and the passage of Obamacare. The latter effectively nationalized 6% of the GDP and permanently embedded the federal bureaucracy in the sacred doctor-patient relationship.
Contrary to President Obama’s assurances, millions of Americans lost their insurance coverage only to be replaced by inferior policies with deductibles so high that for all intents and purposes made policy holders “uninsured”. Who could afford an $8K annual deductible on their medical policy? It was against this backdrop that Andy Harris won his first election for the Maryland Congressional District One. He defeated the popular incumbent, Queen Anne County Judge Kratovil — who had voted for Obamacare — in a landslide. By electing Andy Harris back in 2010, Eastern shore had spoken and allied itself with the forces of freedom, American traditionalism, and fiscal conservatism. Andy has not failed us and we have stuck with him ever since. He has one of the highest district-wide approval ratings in Congress.
The Tea Party movement represented the second wave of political realignment favoring the Republican Party. The first was in 1980 with Ronald Reagan when millions of working class Americans, the “Blue Democrats” as they became known, joined his movement. This second, the Tea Party wave, was markedly a middle class movement concerned about the fiscal health of the nation — the national debt under Obama eventually doubled during his two terms in office, from $10 trillion in January of 2009 when he took office, to $19 trillion by the end of his second term. That’s a hell of a lot of “quantitative easing”. All the while we were shedding jobs, entire industries, manufacturing base, and individual and corporate tax base along with them, in the name of “globalization”.
Andy Harris points out that Obamacare was not just about “medical coverage”. It represented a fundamental shift in Americans’ self-understanding and their relationship to their government. To conservatives government is not [or it ought not to be], a provider of consumer goods and services. It is to be an arbiter and provide the scaffolding, the structural background, for the free market and civil society to flourish. Obamacare had shifted that line by creating new entitlements and new dependencies. Political philosophy, and political psychology tell us a lot of what happens with “dependent classes”: they become democratic constituencies and remain forever mired in that dependent relationship, but that is a story for another time.
Andy Harris, who is a medical doctor by profession, and continues his practice here on the Eastern shore to this day, took the Hippocratic Oath: “First Do No Harm” — this is the shorthand version of the oath we are all familiar with. Andy Harris extends this “First Do No Harm” oath to his practice of politics. And we, his constituents, are the better for it.
When a mutual friend introduced us back in 2010, at that Tea Party event in Easton, we bonded at a rate of knots over our shared abhorrence of all things socialist, totalitarian, authoritarian, dictatorial, call it what you may, the outcome is always much the same. Andy, the son of refugees from the former Eastern Europe, had no difficulty in connecting with my reality of having grown up under the horrors of communism. We both understand, and are forever vigilant about the fact that liberty, and liberty alone, stands in opposition to all that — Frederick Hayek, the Nobel prize winning economist, and an indefatigable defender of liberty, put it rather succinctly: “Liberty is the ground of all things”. Andy and I, and many like us, having had first hand experience of the world without liberty, understand the existential threat that these movements pose. To remain a stable, prosperous, Constitutional Republic, the light of liberty must continue to guide the way. It was with that in mind that Andy proudly joined the House Freedom Caucus in 2015.
The election of President Trump in 2016 represents another wave-realignment in the American political landscape. Traditionally democratic “working class” voters migrated over to the Republican Party in support of Mr. Trump’s America First agenda, rejecting the globalist model that had exported American industries and jobs in a wholesale fashion. The promised benefits from this globalization never materialized. Left behind are desolate towns and cities that were once proud centers of American manufacturing and entrepreneurship. One only has to look at Detroit, where boulevards of gracious Victorian villas sit in urban ruin. Uncontrolled immigration was suppressing the wages of the most economically vulnerable among us, yet failing to provide us with the skilled labor that we actually needed. Andy was proud to jump on board with America First policy agenda to protect American markets, American agriculture, energy independence, and the American labor force — Andy is America First!
We are a Constitutional Republic. We elect our representatives and send them to Washington, D.C., to represent our interests. Period. Andy has not lost sight of this basic fact; you will not find Andy in a fancy dress at the Met Gala! Due to his seniority Andy is now the Ranking member of the Agriculture Subcommittee to the Appropriations Committee. He is standing up for all the farmers in our community and he has received the “Friend of the Farmer Award” every term he’s been in office. He has secured funding for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, specifically for the eradication of destructive invasive species. He sponsors Oyster Restoration Language every year to direct NOAA to continue the oyster restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay. He continues to fight for the H2B visas essential for the crab picking industry. Andy is the best friend that our local waterman, small businesses and farmers ever had in the “People’s House”. Andy is very proud of having received honors such as “Guardian of Small Business” and “Hero of Main Street”.
The mid-term election of 2022 truly is an existential election. I will not recount the destructiveness the current Democratic administration has wrought. I don’t have to. We see it, we feel it every time we gas up, every time we do grocery shopping. Sticker shock is an understatement. Home ownership is increasingly out of reach for young families. Suffice it to say that 75% of Americans now say the country is on the wrong track. That is the highest number ever recorded. While there will not be an opportunity to change course in the Executive Branch until 2024, we have to make sure that there is a switch in the balance of power in the Senate and of course, the “People’s House”, the House of Representatives, so that these institutions may act in the manner envisioned by our founding fathers: as a check-and-balance on the power of the Executive.
Andy Harris has been a faithful and an honorable representative for our community and our interests. The oath “First do no harm” that he took as a medical doctor, and that continues to be his guiding light has served him, and consequently all of us, well.
Tatiana Croissette is the Former Chair of Kent County GOP