Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Scanlan: Remember when... ?

Remember when a half gallon of ice cream was really a half gallon, and bags of sugar were 5 pounds? We watched the nightly news and trusted the reporting, whether it came from Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings or Dan Rather. I remember when television shows portrayed traditional values, and I actually remember when the Republican Party campaigned on family values.

That was back in the good old days, before the time when a presidential nominee could openly brag about how easy it was for him to sexually assault women, and then go on to be elected. Back in the day, when the U.S. Supreme Court meant something, was held to a higher standard. Yep, I can remember when we expected judicial nominees to tell the truth under oath, even if it was only about crazy high school high jinks. We thought impartiality and a dignified demeanor were important qualities for a judge. Good times!


Remember when the National Rifle Association promoted responsible gun safety? I guess that’s gone the way of the rotary phone and the VCR. Now they are just an arm of the weapons industry, spending millions of dollars promoting a radical right wing political agenda, trying to intimidate politicians to see things their way. They even downgraded Gov. Larry Hogan’s rating because he supported some common-sense gun safety laws.

Our new “Red Flag” law allows concerned family members and law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily confiscate firearms from an individual deemed a risk to themselves or others. Another law bans bump stocks and other devices that can make a semiautomatic rifle fire almost as fast as a fully automatic rifle. This is the same rapid-fire accessory that was used to kill 58 and wound over 500 concert goers in Las Vegas one year ago. Hogan was criticized by the NRA for signing a bill that could very well save lives in Maryland.


Funny story — guess who opposed these two measures? Our very own “Team Hogan” of Justin Ready, Susan Krebs, April Rose and Haven Shoemaker. I guess they are only “Team” players when it suits their purposes. Apparently scoring conservative political points is more important than public safety. As a matter of fact, the only candidate who advocated for these laws was Emily Shank. She also happens to be the only candidate advocating for public education. Emily Shank even has a coherent plan for fighting the opioid crisis.

While we’re walking down memory lane, I am reminded that we were the last family on my block to get color television. My mother was a single mom who raised four boys. She worked long hours, but we were comfortable. I never went hungry, we had a nice home and we always had presentable clothes to wear. Fiscal responsibility had nothing to do with whether you were a Republican or a Democrat. It was just something you did out of necessity.

Somewhere along the way, however, Republicans came up with this cockamamie story that they were worried about deficits and runaway spending. They concocted a theory that if you gave enough money and tax breaks to the wealthy, it would trickle down to us regular folks. Hysterical right? Of course, facts tell us otherwise, but who cares? Back in the Reagan era it was called voodoo economics. Now it’s called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The bottom line is about 83 percent of the tax cuts go to the wealthiest 10 percent. Approximately 40 percent of Americans struggle to meet basic needs like food, housing or health care. Thanks to Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, approximately 3.5 million Marylanders face losing their coverage or paying higher premiums. And I don’t even want to think about the ballooning national deficit — $895 billion, an increase of 32 percent this past year alone.

Yes, times sure have changed. Cooperation, consensus and compromise have become dirty words. Honesty and integrity seem to have become expendable commodities in our throw-away culture. I remember when a president comforted a nation in mourning and inspired us to be better than we thought we were. President Lyndon Johnson said, “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” We can retreat to opposite corners, we can fall back to lines in the sand, or we can endeavor to make our community and our nation a better place.

Tom Scanlan is a member of the Democratic Central Committee. He writes from Westminster.