For Maryland Republicans, the 2010 election was a shock, especially compared to national results. Despite victories here and there, we now know our state government will lurch on to follow economic basket cases like California or New York, where free-spending Democrats believe taxpayers comprise a never-ending gravy train.
The title of this piece refers to Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged.” A book which doubles as a parable, its theme is how society reacts when the producers withdraw from an intrusive, overbearing government. In Maryland, this scenario played out on a small scale via the so-called “millionaire tax” in 2008 — instead of creating the extra revenue predicted, overall tax receipts fell well short of projections. Those who could afford to do so voted with their feet and left Maryland for other states that encouraged their presence by featuring low tax rates and a regulatory environment more conducive to business.
For those departing, it was their manner of “going Galt,” a phrase inspired by the character in “Atlas Shrugged” who led the exodus of those tired of the overtaxation, overregulation and general disgust from those in government toward citizens successful in the private sector.
With this backdrop, Free State Republicans are in the process of choosing a leader for the next four years. Given the hand with which they have to play, the next state government term will need to be spent both fighting a rear-guard action to slow down Annapolis’s march toward oblivion and educating the public as to why it’s necessary — needless to say, voters missed the GOP message prior to the election. Or did they?
Maryland Republicans put up candidates who, for the most part, were tacitly endorsed by party brass. Many among them were willing accomplices to the Democrats on their destructive course over the last four years — although some would argue that ship began sailing decades ago. In either case, no course correction was made with this election. Republicans need to work on making sure voters are aware of the fix surely required four years hence.
And while it may not be popular with Democrats or the media, Republicans in Maryland indeed can’t just be the party of “no” — we must be the party of “hell no.” Sometimes there can’t be a compromise made; as Rand herself pondered, what is the compromise between food and poison? We must refuse the siren song of budget “fixes” involving new and expanded taxes, and fight tooth and nail against additional regulations and misguided ideas like the “green jobs” boondoggle.
Our best new chairman will be one who realizes there can be no compromise in our principles; instead, he or she will intuitively know Maryland Republicans need to present a bold palette of ideas and candidates in 2014. Our new leadership must convince our state’s producers help will eventually arrive. Give us anything less and Atlas will fail.
Michael Swartz, a Wicomico Republican Central Committee member, covered Maryland’s 2010 election for Pajamas Media. Visit http://www.monoblogue.us