Minnich: Voters need to set issues

If you listen to the cable news channel experts, the coming election is about the headlines of the moment: slaughtered journalist, caravan of Honduran refugees, residual anger over the Supreme Court hearings. If you listen to The Donald, it’s about Trump: “A vote for (fill in the blank) is a vote for me … me … me.”

But the voters will set the agenda. And indications are that it will be about health care and quality of life issues at the national level.


At the state level, and here in Carroll County, it will probably be a snoozer. Hogan will stay on as governor, Republicans will win in the boonies and Democrats will win the populated metro corridors.

As usual, the Republican platform is about the short view — block laws that impede commerce and do nothing if it costs money while campaigning hard to keep the populace convinced that an extra $48 in tax savings is worth putting off fixing schools, bridges or cleaning up water resources.

Democrats lack focus and are disorganized. They need to capture and brainwash a couple of Republican business marketing people to sell the public — including white conservatives — on the pragmatic aspects of clean air and water, educational opportunities and employment with decent wages in poor communities.

The best pitch the center-left could make would be that investment in a vision beyond the next quarterly bonus checks could result in compound interest — both in cash and engagement by citizens.

Media and electioneers on the stump are all about knee-jerk reactions to he-said, she-said, the Twit’s Tweets, and what the polls predict.

If they must focus on polls, how about paying heed to the fact that the universal health care that conservatives and the insurance and pharmaceutical industry lobbyists tried to kill 10 years ago has found fans among the everyday Jack and Jill America.

That foot in the door known as Obamacare was tainted enough by money interests to cost the average wage-earner more than it should for insurance, but accessibility and the salvation of coverage for pre-existing conditions showed enough promise to continue gathering public support. Now even conservative Republicans are embracing universal health care, and it is an issue ready for bipartisan negotiation instead of rhetorical posturing.

After the ugly display of choosing a justice for the Supreme Court, all our secrets are known. Americans have little class when it comes to politics. But they still have a strong belief in justice — self-serving justice in particular — and if we can’t keep politicians off the court, we can at least elect politicians — particularly presidents — who will be better at trying to deliver the best person for the court and the nation. Can’t change the judges every four years, but we can change the people who choose them.

In the future, we need to take a lot of the political jobs and make them nonpartisan. School board votes are already nonpartisan (although at least one local candidate was pushed hard for county commissioner in past elections by ultra conservatives).

County commissioners don’t have to be partisan. Let them run on their stated positions and let the partisans in the central committees or wherever decide whether to back them. Stop having candidates put up by the central committees, which are generally too far to the right or left to truly represent the average citizen of the county.

Delegates and state senators can be partisan because they represent the interests of this county among the interests of other counties in Annapolis. Same for federal candidates.

But let there be transparency about who backs the candidates, and who backs the backers of the people who we trust to make government policy and run the public business.

And perhaps with that would come a growing awareness that we are ready for a county council and executive rule in Carroll County.