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Md. Rep. Andy Harris is no patriot

Last week, the world watched in stunned horror as the American president denigrated Western allies and gave succor to Vladimir Putin, a despot who has been credibly accused of assassinating journalists and poisoning Russian dissidents on foreign soil. Then, my congressman went all-in with a near-pathological defense of Mr. Trump as a victim of journalistic aggression.

Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland District 1 has long been a practitioner of far-right rhetoric, a quality that has, no doubt, served him well as the only Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation. But this time feels different.

As a moderate liberal with pro-business leanings and a commitment to the capitalist system that has elevated generations of Americans from poverty, I proudly broke party ranks to vote for our Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. A legitimate argument can be made that the Democratic Party’s stronghold on Maryland politics has been at best a comically one-sided farce and at worst a disaster for many Marylanders, particularly those in my native Baltimore City. Larry Hogan will again have my vote in the gubernatorial race come November, as I subscribe to his common sense approach to creating more economic opportunity in our great state. He’s proven himself an ethical representative of Marylanders’ interests, party affiliation aside.

But unlike Governor Hogan, Congressman Harris has used these narratives to his nefarious benefit, all the while inexplicably cozying up to the likes of accused pedophile and real-life theocrat Roy Moore. I had once attributed Dr. Harris’ proclivities to well-intentioned differences in how best to approach America’s commitment to liberal democracy. “He seems like a decent family man,” I told myself in a vain attempt at disagreeing without being disagreeable. That proverbial ship has, however, sailed.

My congressman, a man who is supposedly committed to the “Blue Lives Matter” ethos, continues to stand idly by while our president impugns federal law enforcement agents as treacherous actors.

My congressman was complicit in the president’s inhuman separation of refugee families at the border while publicly complaining about Maryland’s lack of access to work visas for migrant workers who annually underwrite the economy of Eastern Shore agriculture.

My congressman, a physician who himself has taken the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm,” voted incessantly to undo the Affordable Care Act with zero policy prescriptions for a replacement.

My congressman, a man who consistently and nauseatingly purports to be a defender of the Constitution, publicly recommended the president forgo future press engagements, blaming the free press for our commander-in-chief’s own shortcomings and caustic narcissism.

If this is what patriotism looks like — blind subservience to a cult of personality that is a consistent affront to democratic norms and basic human decency — then Dr. Harris ought to receive a medal of valor.

But I am a patriot who believes in the freedom of the press as an indispensable component of the liberties we enjoy. I am a patriot who believes our national sovereignty is predicated on elections free of Russian influence. I am a patriot who believes that institutions like NATO and the EU, with all their attendant flaws, have guaranteed peace in the West since World War II. I am a patriot who believes it to be the obligation of the American president to stridently confront malevolent dictators. I am a patriot who has indirectly reaped the benefits of the ACA, allowing my family to grieve the impending loss of a loved one without worry of financial ruin. I am a patriot and father of young boys who deserve role models revolted by — rather than celebrated for — popping in on underage beauty pageant contestants in the hope of catching an illicit glimpse.

Andy Harris is not a patriot. Andy Harris is a menacing and cynical actor whose unyielding support for President Trump endangers my family and the families of all other Marylanders. It is in this spirit that I beseech my fellow members of Maryland District 1 to vote their consciences this November. Be on the right side of history. Rid our congressional delegation of the likes of Andy Harris. Our future as Americans may depend on it.

Patrick G. Muth (muthie49@yahoo.com) lives in Baldwin.

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