A sign in front of the old fire station on Oxford Road reads, “It’s Simple. Vote Democrat.” When I first saw it, I thought of Thomas Jefferson, who stressed the importance of an educated citizenry. Although the exact wording is in dispute, he said something like, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” The Oxford Road sign contradicted that.
I don’t like what I call “congenital Democrats” or their GOP counterparts—people who vote “their party” regardless of the candidate and don’t bother to learn anything about the opposing candidate. The term “congenital” is not meant as a compliment. Yet, in 2022, I find myself telling people. “Vote Democrat. It’s Simple.”
As is dramatically obvious, the Republican party has imploded into a toxic cloud of racism, greed, personality cults, uncivil attacks, homo-and transphobia, and treason. Except for the name, the party of even 10 years ago no longer exists. Referring to it as “The Party of Lincoln” solicits laughs. You get the idea.
As the mid-term elections approach, there is an important race here on the Eastern Shore. Andy Harris is running against Democrat Heather Mizeur. Conventional wisdom, especially considering recent national polls suggesting a “red wave,” says she will lose. Unfortunately, these polls have caused some First District voters to think, “Why vote for her when she will lose anyway?”
Other voters, including some independents and conservatives aware of Harris’ attendance at an infamous December meeting at the White House where the January 6 insurrection was planned, tell me they won’t vote for Mizeur because “she’s too liberal.” (Two points here—first, Harris refuses to tell us what he was doing at the December meeting because he says the January 6 Committee will accuse him of treason. Second, Harris doesn’t think January 6 was an insurrection.)
Is Mizeur too liberal? I didn’t think so, but I was curious how she would fare in a head-to-head confrontation with Andy Harris. Watching the video of the recent League of Woman Voters candidate forum posted in The Spy provided an opportunity. You can watch the full 90-minute exchange here. The Spy is also posting excerpts of the forum. A video of the opening statements is here.
Mizeur did not seem too liberal to me. She is right, in my view, on many issues, including abortion, education, healthcare, the environment, and the economy. She embraces a larger role of government in supporting our well-being than Harris, but I did not see any similarities to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). I saw a woman genuinely interested in learning about the challenges facing the Eastern Shore and willing to do the work to address them.
I also watched Harris. He was smug and blamed inflation, the economy, crime, the Fentanyl epidemic, federally controlled education, declining test scores and a lot of other issues on Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi (who Andy wants “to fire). I did not hear anything positive from him. He wants to stay in Washington to protect our rights, especially freedom of religion, which he felt was attacked when efforts were made to prohibit in-person services during the pandemic, and, of course, the Second Amendment.
How do you weigh the pros and cons of the two candidates? Harris was slick and enthusiastic, especially when defending himself for carrying a gun in the U.S. Capitol and clarifying that Governor Hogan did not call him crazy, but only said his insistence that churches not be closed during the early, most-deadly months of the pandemic was crazy.
Mizeur was “soft” in my view in laying out her policy positions. She was better when attacking Harris, but she could have been stronger in laying out positive reasons why she deserved my vote.
Then I remembered the Oxford Road sign and its message: The Republican party is so rotten that you should not vote for any Republican. If Talbot County had an elected dog catcher, I would vote for the Democrat. The party is an engine of hate and division. Its continued vitality is a threat to American democracy, especially when more than 200 candidates nationally continue to deny that Biden won the presidency in 2020.
So, you can argue whether Trump caused the Republican party to go to hell or whether Trump took advantage of a Republican trend of nationalist populism, but you cannot argue that the party is not rotten. It is. The only way to end the divisiveness that is plaguing America is for the party to go away.
That is why the vote for the First District Congressional seat is a simple one, even if you are not wildly enthusiastic about Heather Mizeur. She is not a Republican. It’s that simple. I’m with Heather.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, the environment, and other subjects.