Monday, November 30, 2009

A NY-23 Scenario Here in Maryland?

It appears that former Republican Delegate Rick Weldon may be resigning his seat in the General Assembly to take a job with the City of Frederick. If he does, a very interesting decision will have to be made by the Frederick County Republican Central Committee (H/T Mike Netherland). The choice of Weldon's replacement by these party elites has the potential to be a miniature version of the debacle in NY-23 (which seems appropriate as Maryland is "America in Miniature").

While the die is far from cast, sources close to the committee tell me that there are two primary candidates seeking the job if it becomes available.

The first is central committee member and long time conservative activist Mike Hough. Mike is the former leader of the Maryland Republican Assembly which seeks to elect conservative Republicans to office. Mike is also a declared candidate for the District 3B seat and has reported approximately $30,000 raised and sources close to his campaign say that he expects to have over $50,000 cash in hand in his January report, a handsome sum for a single member district nearly a year before the election.

Given his background and active campaigning in conservative Frederick County, District 3B comprises arguably the most conservative part of Senator Alex Mooney's conservative District 3, Mr. Hough would seem to be the natural selection for any opening.

Surprisingly, however, another member of the central committee, Katie Nash, has been quietly attempting to get the job for herself. Little is known about Ms. Nash as she lacks the experience or track record of even the 30ish Mr. Hough. What makes some cast Ms. Nash in the Dede Scozzafava role, however, is not her youth but her views on the issues. She is widely reported to be pro-choice and has on multiple occasions posted on her facebook wall comments which seem to show great sympathy for the gay marriage movement, even to the point of praising Equality Maryland for pushing Obama to do more. Without a record of achievement or public positions, these few public statements seem the only clues about what a Delegate Nash may do in the General Assembly.

Which begs the question, if the situation would arise, why would any central committee consider putting a political unknown into the House of Delegates? It would not be the first time that a central committee got it wrong on what is arguably their most important job (remember Senator Bobby Neall?).

For conservatives, Mike Hough is exactly the kind of candidate we say we want. He is talented and unwavering in his conservative beliefs. He has worked not just to get other Republicans but conservative Republicans elected. He has shown that he can withstand the crucible of Annapolis and remain true to his principles.

So why would any conservative Republican, let alone a member of a central committee, ever consider appointing someone else, especially someone with more red flags than a Chinese May Day parade?

It is important that Maryland conservatives, not just those in Frederick County, get informed on this issue and let these committee members know that we are watching. Any process to select Delegate Weldon's replacement should be as open and transparent as possible and every candidate needs to be publicly scrutinized.

Parochial committee politics and personal ambition cannot be allowed to create a NY-23 scenario here in Maryland.

22 comments:

Kevin Waterman said...

Perhaps I can give you an argument for why:

Conservatism is far more than simply social issues.

Social conservatism is by far the most controversial element of political conservatism. Not only that, but the two items you mentioned are by far the most controversial of the issues social conservatives obsess over.

And just to take the point a step further, there's pretty strong evidence suggesting that the social conservative position on those issues is steadily losing ground.

There were several lessons from NY-23. I think the key one is that social issues are not going to win the day for the GOP. Look at who won in November: Christie and O'Donnell, both of whom pointedly avoided social issues in the general. Look at who lost: Hoffman, who made social issues a key part of his campaign.

People aren't thrilled with Obama and the Democrats. But that doesn't mean they like the Republicans. The shift in popular sentiment seems to be pretty clearly in a libertarian direction. If the GOP wants to ride that to success it too needs to swing in that direction. They don't need to push for total drug legalization, but they at least need to back off of the social issues a bit.

If the only policy complaint against Nash is her stance on social issues than it doesn't seem to be much. And if the GOP is willing to immediately rule her out just because of that, I certainly don't hold much hope for it.

streiff said...

I'm sure the elections in NY-23, VA, and NJ look very much as you describe them if they were viewed from Jupiter. On Earth, they looked a lot different.

Conservatism is more than social issues, otherwise the Catholic Church would be staunchly conservative. Conservatism is also much more than fiscal issues and nonsense like term limits.

Like it or not, social conservatives are the GOTV people for the Republican party which is the only national party which is even vaguely conservative. Without them, or should I say us, conservatives simply don't win in measurable numbers.

I, for one, will not donate time or money to a candidate who is pro-choice. I know Will Wilkinson and will admit he's a smart guy. Be that as it may, he doesn't address why gay marriage loses every time people get a chance to vote on it. Like in California, for instance.

But Wilkinson is a libertarian and I'd hardly expect him to accurately portray the true state of play on gay marriage. And why conservatives would quote a libertarian on much of anything is beyond me.

Greg Kline said...

Kevin,

I don't share your take on the lessons of this election but I would say there can be an argument for pro-choice candidates in some circumstances. I supported Ehrlich for instance.

But none of that has to do with 3B. This is a conservative district both fiscally and socially. Such a candidate not only can but does win regularly. So the only argument is that some just don't want the GOP to be socially conservative which is why this story has broader significance and why conservatives need to be paying attention.

In the light of day, however, I think there will be no real contest here.

Kevin Waterman said...

Social conservatives may historically be the GOTV people for the GOP, but how long will they last as such. On the issue of gay marriage at least, the demographics are against social conservatives.

On the other hand, most of the current generation has never seen what left-wing economic policy look likes in practice. Maybe I'm wrong, but I strongly suspect that as time goes on and they become disillusioned with the Left's economic policy they will swing in a lower-case L libertarian direction. The unexpected energy and force of the Ron Paul supporters seems to point to that.

As for the latter point you have on Wilkinson's argument, I think the demographics point makes it pretty clearly. While more young people vote than ever, older individuals still have the highest incidence of voting. As a result the preferences of older voters have disproportionate weight in referendums and the like. However, as older voters continue to die and today's young people begin to vote more regularly, I think we'll see the results of such votes changing.

Finally, just to clarify I, like Wilkinson, am a libertarian. I'm amenable to conservatives when they work to advance liberty and liberals when they do.

I'm also inclined to be a little more favorable towards conservatism when it lives up to Reagan's comment that "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism." That's why I try and push the GOP to stay true to that sentiment and avoid the coercive moralism the social conservative wing of the party sometimes slips into.

Greg Kline said...

Kevin,

You can keep your plug for your strawman blog post. It is quintessential sophistry.

You seem to be a fan of fallacy.

Thirty one states have voted on gay marriage and traditional marriage has won every time. So much for demographics.

Reagan was not a libertarian first or last. He built a coalition of libertarians, social conservatives and believers in strong national defense. Those are three legs of the Reagan conservative stool. He was pro-life and never flinched to get libertarian support.

Nice try though.

streiff said...

pace Reagan, but libertarianism only works in a world populated by adults. The first time a sociopath shows up, it doesn't work. Reagan was also instrumental in adding opposition to abortion to the Republican platform for the first time in 1980.

Ron Paul is a moron. History shows that failed economic policies bring a lot of bad things. It's never been shown to cut the collective IQ of a population in half which is what would have to happen for any appreciable number of people to vote for Ron Paul or his fellow travelers.

You also make the fallacious assumption that a person's politics are fixed when they are 18-29. That is obviously false as the older voters today were Kennedy-Johnson-get out of Vietnam voters when they were in that demographic. Your politics change as you acquire a family, home, job, etc.

I've really got no use for libertarianism as a political philosophy which is why I'm not one and have little to no sympathy for their positions in general. Fortunately for the nation there are damned few out there so we don't have to worry about accommodating them.

You're welcome to vote with us when you want unless you like what you see now.

Kevin Waterman said...

Fine, dismiss it if you will. As I said, it was a sincere question as to what strikes me as a contradiction in social conservative thought. But we don't have to discuss it.

I fail to see how the result of current elections discounts the demographics argument. The whole point of the argument is that a majority of the current voting public opposes legalizing gay marriage, but as demographics shift due to deaths amongst the older voting cohort and an expansion of the younger voting cohort those votes will start going the other way.


Perhaps I was unclear, but my largest concern with social conservatives isn't abortion. It's gay marriage (which in fact I oppose, along with state sanction of all marriage - I favor a replacement of government enforced contracts for any arrangement of consenting adults on terms of their choice) and some lower tier issues like drug policy, prostitution bans, and obscenity law.

And I wasn't trying to argue Reagan was a libertarian. The point was that he had a great deal more respect for the libertarian argument than it seems many social conservatives today do (Huckabee comes to mind as the most prominent example, although there are others).

Greg Kline said...

It is only a contradiction that makes seems sincere because it is based upon a fallacious premise. As such, it is sophistry. Get a dictionary if you don't believe me.

There is no response to sophistry except dismissal.

Kevin Waterman said...

Greg,

I don't know why you seem to have such trouble with the idea I could be sincerely asking the question. My true interest with the post was to further my understanding; if you think my argument is based upon a fallacy, I honestly would like to know what you perceive to be the flaw.

Streiff,

Considering that in my experience most libertarians have a much more extensive knowledge of economics and philosophy than the average person, I'm not sure what your insinuation that only stupid people would support Ron Paul is based on.

I wouldn't disagree that people's politics change as they get older. However, it is relatively rare that the children of one generation are just as socially conservative as the one that preceded it. If that were the case we'd still see a strong social bias towards mixed race couples or commonly held beliefs that woman shouldn't work outside the home.

streiff said...

What I dismiss is not the fiscal argument but the idea that social conservatives aren't also significantly fiscal conservatives and that by somehow throwing the social issues under the bus you're going to energize all kinds of libertoids and fiscons... who have never before voted in measurable numbers... to the polls and do so in sufficient numbers to offset socons who will stay home.

If anyone thinks Dede lost because of fiscal issues, I'd ask them if they seriously think her affiliation with Planned Parenthood and her unabashed pro-abort position... which Hoffman and tv ads highlighted... had no effect.

As to the demographics argument. It is documented that political beliefs change over time. Your continued assertion that because younger voters seem to be in favor of buggery they will continue to be in favor of buggery as they age is simply counterfactual. They may, but there is no empirical evidence that would allow one to make that assertion. For instance, younger voters in 1973 were in favor of abortion. Those same voters, today, are against it.

Greg Kline said...

Fair enough.

Your argument is based on the fallacious assumption that "the primary concern for social conservatives is the preservation of virtue. That virtue derives, usually, from living a life in accordance with the moral code of the Judeo-Christian tradition". You then argue that a legal code embodying this moral code is "anathema" with the absurd result that any legal prohibition in accord with morality actually defeats the true purpose of social conservatism.

"Sophistry" is defined as "a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning."

Ergo, your post is sophistry and a fine example at that.

streiff said...

I'd agree that libertarians mostly think they have a greater understanding of economics and philosophy than other people. Communists felt the same way. The fact that neither of these systems actually work in the real world and yet beget that feeling of superiority is more of a testament to the power of self delusion than anything else.

Your assertion that it is rare that children are as socially conservative as their parents is patently nonsense. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of history can easily pick out numerous examples being more socially conservative than their parents.

Kevin Waterman said...

Streiff,

With that kind of a statement, I really don't see any point in attempting to further the first point, it's not going to go anywhere. Suffice to say you are one of the only people I have encountered who has disagreed with libertarianism but not conceded that most libertarians are as or more well-read and informed on economics and philosophy than the average person.

For the latter, what broad historical trends can you point to, other than the time following the fall of the Roman Empire perhaps?

The broad historical trend has been towards an increasing opening of society and loosening of social strictures.

A few hundred years ago it was considered acceptable to possess other humans as chattel property, to prevent women from independently owning property, and to punish people for sexual acts between consenting adults.

Today you're an extremist if you find mixed-race couples immoral, women are a large portion of the workforce, and anti-sodomy laws are either repealed or unenforced.

Abortion is the only issue that potentially defies this trend, but that's because it is a much more morally complex issue. But so long as the only harm done is inflicted on the self, it certainly seems that history shows society will eventually accept it.

Rick said...

Just for the record, rumors of my political death have been GREATLY exaggerated. Delegate Rick Weldon (the once and CURRENT Delegate for District 3B).

retgroclk said...

There has got to be another category for those of us who are pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro-less taxes and really do not see gay marriage as a big issue.

I am also opposed to state- sanctioned marriages which is why gay marriages is a non- issue with me.

My main problem is that I am a Democrat and the number of copnservative Democrats is shrinking in most areas.

The Republican Party doesn't seem to know where it is going and seems to only want conservatives in their party.

There is a place for government welfare, and housing aid and other social issues. but not to the extent that it bankrupts the couhtry.

Mark Newgent said...

Wow its Frank Meyer vs James Burnham all over again. Gentleman there's more room for agreement between social conservatives and libertarians if we choose to seek it.

I'm more sanguine about what Ron Paul offers. Perhaps not Paul himself, but his emphasis on liberty is something the GOP, in my opinion abandoned in embracing compassionate conservatism. To be sure I don't agree with Paul's views on foreign policy. However I do beleive we can create a new fusionist synthesis very similar to the one Reagan crafted into a practical political program.

As far as gay marriage is concerned. GOP support for a constituional amendment defining marriage was a terrible idea and an abandonment of federalism. As Greg pointed out every time it gets on a state ballot it fails. If different states or localities want to decide differently then let them.

Progressives are in the business of imposing universal rules of behavior on a heterogenous nation of 300 plus million people. Conservatives should know better, because we know what lies down that road.

Greg Kline said...

Mark,

I disagree with you on the marriage issue. The very legitimate fear is that gay marriage would have to be recognized in other states under the full faith and credit clause under the US constitution. With a federal constitutional amendment preventing this (and thus permitting the kind of local choice you mention) we may have one state making gay marriage national.

Right now we have a federal statute in the way (DOMA). I have grave doubts at the end of the day it will be enough.

streiff said...

Ya know, Kevin, you really ought to get out more.

1. Interracial marriage as "immoral" was only an objection in Western Civilization for a very short period of time, and in the US the short period of time was also confined geographically. If you've ever taken the time to actually study the subject you'd find that US anti-misogyny laws were, in the main, prohibitions on whites marrying blacks, or more infrequently, marrying non-whites, not on interracial marriage.

2. Pauline Kael didn't know anyone who had voted for Nixon, so I'm unsurprised that everyone you know has convinced themselves that libertarians are smart.

3. Have you ever heard of the Victorian era? It is simply a tragic instance of self beclowning to make a pronouncement and bonejarringly counterfactual as the one you made.

4. Your take on anti-sodomy laws is really so typical of libertarians who profess to be all in favor of the Constitution and the unenumerated rights that Ron Paul loves to babble about until their favorite ox, in this case libertinism, gets gored. Anti-sodomy laws were generally struck down in Livingston v Texas. I've no problem with their repeal but anyone with even a modicum of appreciation for our form of government should be appalled at this decision. As usual, though, libertarians are against court interference unless the electorate is against their position. But you guys are smarter than everyone else so I guess you have to save us from ourselves.

5. There is a difference between an "opening of society" and a "destruction of society." After watching libertarians in action it has become increasingly clear that that movement cannot distinguish liberty from license and is as set on destroying our society as anyone on the left.

Kevin Waterman said...

Streiff,

I don't know why I keep on trying with all the vitriol you're spewing at me.

Rather than arguing back and forth the same points again and again, I just want to ask a simple question:

You seem (rightfully so) to have strong objections to other people telling you how you should live. Why are you unwilling to apply this same standard to your own beliefs?

As you put it,

"But you guys are smarter than everyone else so I guess you have to save us from ourselves."

What then makes the social conservative stance any more valid a position to do that from?

One of the biggest benefits of legislating libertarianism is that it doesn't preclude individuals living a socially conservative life. On the other hand legislating social conservatism does prevent individuals from leading lives outside of those strictures.

By your own admission, it's a bad thing when people try to determine others' lives for them. I agree fully. With that mindset then, shouldn't we encourage a legal regime that gives the most latitude for personal choice, so long as it doesn't harm any other individual and their ability to do the same?

McCainiacNYC said...

Greg,

Your comments on Katie Nash are way off base. She is a good person. A young mother who works her tail off and we need more people with her energy and enthusiasm to helping to elect more Republicans in Maryland.

:(

streiff said...

Greg never said she wasn't a "good person." He merely pointed out there is evidence that she is both a pro-abort and pro-gay marriage. Both positions run contrary to the GOP platform.

Do you have evidence to the contrary?

Greg Kline said...

Nothing in my post diminished or even failed to acknowledge that Ms. Nash is working to elect Republicans. The issue is what type of Republican would we want to hold this seat if a vacancy is filled by the central committee.

I think we need more people like Mike Hough too. He has been working just as hard and longer to elect conservative Republicans.

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