"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How I'm Voting on Tuesday

Just in case anyone is interested, here is how I'm filling out my Montgomery County, MD ballot on Tuesday:

President: Mitt Romney (R), for reasons that anyone who reads this blog already knows.  I have a list of 100 reasons why I'm voting against Obama (and therefore for Romney).

U.S. Senator: Daniel John Bongino (R) - I was excited about Bongino when I voted for him in the primary, but I have been disappointed that I haven't seen or heard a single TV or radio ad for him this entire election season.  I guess he hasn't had enough money to advertise.  I have seen and heard a lot of ads for the independent candidate, Rob Sobhani, but he doesn't seem to have much substantive to say other than that he is neither a Republican or a Democrat.  I know Bongino, a Tea Party guy, would be a far better senator than Democratic incumbent Ben Cardin, who is a leftist hack, but I have no doubt that Cardin will be reelected with Bongino and Sobhani splitting the challenger vote.

U.S. Representative: Roscoe Bartlett (R) - Bartlett has long represented the 6th district in Western Maryland and has been a reliably conservative vote.  Unfortunately, the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature did a ridiculous gerrymander of the state's congressional districts to ensure that 7 out of the state's 8 districts would be controlled by Democrats.  My district now favors the Democrats, and Bartlett's age (he is about 87 I think) certainly makes the race even more difficult for him.  Sadly, I expect Bartlett to lose to Democrat John Delaney, leaving Andy Harris of the Eastern Shore as the only Republican in the state's U.S. congressional delegation.

Board of Education: Morris Panner - I always find it difficult to get information that helps me to differentiate between the Montgomery Co. BoE candidates, so I generally find out which candidates are endorsed by the county teachers' union (per the "apple ballot") and vote the opposite.  I dislike teachers' unions because they are essentially an arm of the Democratic Party and stand in the way of real educational reform.  Unfortunately, they have the money and influence to ensure that their preferred candidates almost always get elected.  I am voting for Morris Panner for the BoE At Large position, who is the only candidate running for BoE this year who impressed me much and who is running against apple ballot candidate Phil Kauffman.  I am not overly impressed with non-apple ballot candidates Rebecca Smondrowski and Annita Seckinger in Districts 2 and 4, but may still vote for them over their apple ballot opponents.

Question 4 - AGAINST the petition - Question 4 is a statewide referendum petition that makes illegal immigrants living in the state eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges.  I am against this petition because I don't believe it is right that my tax dollars should go to subsidize the education of people who are in this country and this state illegally.  Unfortunately, many people in my state and my county seem to believe that our country's immigration laws should be simply ignored.  I expect this petition to pass, possibly by a wide margin.

Question 5 - AGAINST the petition - Question 5 is a statewide referendum petition to approve the currently drawn boundaries for the state's U.S. congressional districts.  As mentioned above, these districts are gerrymandered in a ridiculous way to ensure maximum Democratic representation.  This National Journal article lists 2 of Maryland's districts as among the 10 most contorted districts in the entire country and includes a map of the two bizarrely shaped districts.  By voting no on this question, we can hopefully force our legislature to come up with a more sensible congressional district map.

Question 6 - AGAINST the petition - Question 6 is a statewide referendum petition to approve same-sex marriage.  I believe that marriage is a crucial building block of our society and that redefining it could have far-reaching negative effects.  Earlier this year, I wrote an extensive essay (and a couple of follow-up articles) arguing the case for marriage as the union between a man and a woman.  Among the points I made were the fact that marriage has been universally recognized as between a man and a woman across all societies and throughout history due to certain universal features of human nature, that marriage provides numerous benefits for children and for society, that the traditional definition of marriage is not discriminatory against anyone including gays, that same-sex marriage fundamentally changes the institution of marriage and makes it weaker rather than stronger, and that same-sex marriage threatens free speech and religious liberty.  Maryland is one of four liberal-leaning states this year in which same-sex marriage is on the ballot; it will be interesting to see whether any of those states will be the first to approve it by popular vote. 

Question 7 - AGAINST the petition - Question 7 is a statewide referendum to expand commercial gambling in the state.  Tens of millions of dollars have been spent in advertising on both sides of this issue, all coming from casinos which either stand to gain or lose financially from the new gambling facilities.  While I have become more open to the idea of legalized gambling in recent years simply based on the idea of individual freedom, I really do not want my taxpayer dollars going to finance gambling activities which I believe tend to have a negative impact on society and hurt the poor.  The more I have read about this issue, the greater the sense I have that the whole process is a corrupt partnership between sleazy politicians and casino interests designed to benefit themselves at the expense of taxpayers.  Governor O'Malley, who apparently has presidential aspirations, could benefit immensely from casino donations as a result of a loophole in this deal, and while O'Malley has raised taxes on the rest of us he has made sure that the casinos get huge tax breaks that other businesses don't get.  This referendum does not guarantee that even a single penny of additional money will be spent on education.  Some of the previous attempts by Maryland to finance gambling have been poor investments financially, and there is evidence that this gambling expansion could simply take business from other casinos already in existence in the state.  Also, from what I have read, many of the jobs that this referendum creates are construction jobs from union contractors out-of-state.  I'm voting no because I think this deal is more about benefiting the casino industry and the politicians with ties to that industry than benefiting the state as a whole and investing our tax dollars wisely.

Question B - FOR the referendum - Question B is a referendum on a law passed by the Montgomery County Council to limit the scope of collective bargaining for police employees.  Essentially, the county has had rules in place that force the county police chief to engage in collective bargaining with the police officers' union over even the most minor of management decisions.  This law has given the police union in our county more power than that of any other police union in the state and has resulted in inefficiency and unresponsiveness to community needs.  This referendum would limit the power of the union by restricting collective bargaining to certain major areas such as officer salaries and benefits.  I support Question B because I think it would save taxpayer dollars and would improve public safety.

Question C - FOR the referendum - Question C is a local referendum that would permit restaurants and hotels in my town of Damascus to sell wine and beer for consumption on the premises.  Currently, Damascus is a "dry town" which prohibits the sale of any alcohol within its boundaries.  I support this question because I believe it will attract better quality restaurants to the area which would benefit the town as a whole. 

There are some other ballot questions as well, but these are the only ones that I consider to be important. 

In the next day or two, I will be posting my final predictions for the presidential, Senate, and House of Representatives races.  So stay tuned!

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