12:00 PM EST, November 21, 2012
Fresh off of his referendum victories, Gov. Martin O'Malley said that throughout Maryland's history the state has been better served by "a representative democracy rather than plebiscites."
I looked up the word plebiscite in the dictionary and found it means "a vote by which the people of an entire country or district express an opinion for or against a proposal especially on a choice of government or ruler." Put simply, the people have the ability to voice their opinion on a choice made on their behalf by the government.
Mr. O'Malley's choice of words was no accident. He thinks that the people should have no voice in how their elected representatives make decisions. We plebes are not smart enough to figure things out for ourselves and should blindly trust politicians to rule us.
This line of thinking springs from two impulses — the arrogance of power and a frustration with the referendum process.
The arrogance of power is easily explained by the one-party dominance of this state. Mr. O'Malley's frustration with the referendum process stems from embarrassment over the fact that we plebes had the gall to challenge his authority.
Mr. O'Malley knows that without the presidential race as cover he might have lost one or two of his pet projects because of the pesky people and their silly petition process.
Of course, there are two small ironies here. The first is that any attempt by him to change the state constitution's referendum provision would itself have to be approved by voters through a referendum in 2014.
The second is that even if such a change were approved, it wouldn't go into effect until 2015, after Mr. O'Malley had left office.
It is up to us, the plebes, to stop the usurpation on our constitutional rights. The power of representative democracy comes from the people, not the other way around.
Tony Campbell, Towson
The writer is president of Marylanders for Coherent & Fair Representation, Inc.
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