xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Several years ago my parents took a cruise through Alaska's Inland Passage. One of their stops was Sitka, the home of the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center, which cares for and returns wounded eagles, owls, ospreys and other birds of prey to nature. One of the center's permanent residents is a Bald Eagle, one of whose wings had been amputated, rendering it incapable of flight. The bird was found with metal in its wing, shot by a poacher, or perhaps a hunter.

Bald Eagles, the symbol of our country since 1782, are a protected species. Federal laws have been in place since 1900 making it unlawful to hunt or trade in eagle nests, eggs or parts, but this isn't about poaching. It's about crippling the symbol of our country. All you need to do is to damage one of its wings. It doesn't matter which one, either will do the job. That eagle in Alaska would have been crippled whether the right wing or the left had been mutilated.

Advertisement

Our political system is like that eagle. Both wings have to remain strong and functional for it to flourish. We pay a price when that doesn't happen. Carroll County hasn't elected a Democrat to Congress since Beverly Byron, and the Annapolis delegation and county government have been uniformly Republican for as long as I can remember.

There is a difference between having a government with one party holding a majority and one party holding every elective office. Without the exchange of differing perspectives for addressing problems, a single-party government is less likely to find effective and creative solutions to problems. What we see instead is government driven by ideology, rather than the needs of the public. Earlier this year, the state delegation failed to secure state funds to supplement our county education budget. This had more to do with adhering to their party's line than to a lack of money.

Advertisement

Carroll County has spent taxpayer dollars for a pointless out-of-county conference challenging global warming. We have spent thousands of dollars on legal fees to defend the county from a lawsuit arising from the commissioners' practice of offering sectarian prayers before public meetings.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an English-only and the Second Amendment Preservation Resolution. Neither of these resolutions actually does anything of substance. At least one of the commissioners actively supports Carroll County's secession from Maryland. This kind of extremism, designed to play to an extremist fringe, can only survive when there is no alternative.

And why is there no alternative? Walt Kelly's famous comic strip philosopher, Pogo Possum had one answer. "We have met the enemy, and he is us." We get the kind of government we vote for, and the fact is that people of both parties, not just Republicans, cast their ballots without knowing what candidates stand for. We vote for a candidate because he or she happens to belong to our party, not because they'll represent the ideas and goals we think are important.

It takes some small bit of work to find out if a candidate for office would actually represent the views we hold and want. And any candidates not willing to tell us what views they actually hold should receive zero votes, no matter which party they belong to. Good ideas come from both sides of the aisle.

In two days, early voting begins. In two weeks, election day marks the end of voting. Some of us won't bother to vote, thinking it doesn't matter who gets elected. But it does. We may stay away from the polls, believing that our votes don't make a difference, but they do. Voting nourishes the eagle that is our government. Doubtless, some of us will cast our votes based on nothing more than the R or D to the right of a candidate's name. If that is all the thinking we do to choose our elected officials, we may as well have been the hunter who crippled that bald eagle in Alaska, because we will have cut off all the value of the other sides' ideas. One party rule is no different from a one-winged eagle.

Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. Email him at mjemath@gmail.com

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement