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Conservatives Richard Falknor on 21 Apr 2013 02:22 pm

After Timonium: Statewide Independent Conservative Action?

The second-ballot victory yesterday of Diana Waterman as state chair (really the Diana Waterman-Louis Pope Team) at the reportedly contentious Maryland GOP  Convention in Timonium gives little hope for the Old Line State Republican Party becoming an engine of conservatism. 

Do these two Republican sachems have any serious policy convictions?  Their chief  commitment appears to be supporting uncritically the incumbency of GOP state lawmakers, and following the lead of the Beltway GOP in Republican National Committee matters. (Readers may wish to revisit veteran Republican Morton Blackwell’s letter here.)

So What Is To Be Done? A Modest Proposal…

We suggest a new statewide non-profit conservative advocacy organization, a kind of (c)(4) non-profit civic league — as opposed to a public charity or (c)(3).

As a working label, call it Free Maryland.

It might have these elements:

  • This organization would constantly be running inexpensive media and doing well selected “shadow hearings” (and local demonstrations) throughout the Old Line State.
  • Free Maryland’s activities would not be limited to election years  or to supporting candidates (although it could include such efforts on a limited basis), but these efforts would also range from tracking collective-bargaining negotiations with public-employee unions, to highlighting questionable or failing taxpayer-supported education activities, to producing action papers on fiscal matters (including safeguarding property rights, and pension reform).
  •  In our view, half of those folks (67,364) who voted for Brian Murphy in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary might come up with $100 apiece to kick off Free Maryland and would give more if they begin to see results. (One measure of the results of these activities would be the degree of outrage the movement evokes both from the Maryland legacy media and the Maryland political class.) In any event, most money should come from a large number of donors in modest and hopefully frequent packets.

What would be needed to start is a well-known Maryland conservative with sound judgment who would act as that movement’s public face.

We had fleshed out a few more details in a discussion paper (click here) we earlier presented to the Maryland Center-Right Coalition.

In it, our central point was —

“So-called ‘single-issue conservatives’ pursue a path to irrelevance, and help ensure that we shall all hang separately.”

 Angelo Codevilla expands in some detail on this concern in a February 2013 Forbes article (click here and scroll toward end) —

There will be no alternative to all the country class’ various components acting jointly on measures dear to each. For example: since the connection between government and finance, the principle that large institutions are ‘too big to fail,’ are dear to America’s best-connected people who can be counted on to threaten ‘systemic collapse,’ breaking it will require the support of sectors of the country class for which ‘corporate welfare’ is less of a concern than the welfare effects of the Social Security system’s component that funds fake disability and drug addiction – something about which macroeconomists mostly care little – and vice versa. Similarly the entire country class has as much interest in asserting the right of armed self-defense as does any gun owner, because the principle of constitutional right is indivisible. Nothing will require greater unity against greater resistance than ending government promotion of abortion and homosexuality. Yet those whose main concerns are with financial probity cannot afford continuing to neglect that capitalist economics presupposes a morally upright people. ” (Highlighting Forum’s.)

Not Putting Conservatives’ Trust in GOP Princes . . .

Free Maryland’s endorsement (or lack thereof) would help conservative challengers and incumbents as the organization builds recognition and respect.
Such an organization  would not wait, however, for a (likely small) gaggle of self-styled ‘conservatives’ to be elected and then perhaps be co-opted by the Annapolis establishment.

Essentially its purpose would be to start to change the Maryland policy conversation on a grass-roots level by a variety of means from local demonstrations, “shadow hearings” on proposed legislation or for otherwise neglected investigations, to monitoring, then publicizing all kinds of state and local government-related missteps.

Free Maryland is not intended to be a new political party, but to put serious pressure on the Maryland political establishment — some Republicans as well as Democrats — to change course while there is still time.

But without strong and continuing and informed statewide conservative voices, GOP lawmakers are likely to hear only their masters’ voices – – their legislative leaders and perhaps even major donors.

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Others may have their own good suggestions for a coordinated statewide conservative effort.  We would be happy to learn of them.

We intend this article simply to begin the discussion on ‘what is to be done.’

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