Saturday, July 21, 2018

Paradoxical Primary

I’ve been mulling over the most recent episode of Elevate Maryland. It was essentially a “part two” episode analyzing the results of the primary election. The guest is Roger Caplan. You can find the episode here:

Episode 34 with Roger Caplan

I find Mr. Caplan’s views on the District 1 Council race to be puzzling. On the one hand, he describes the incumbent Jon Weinstein as being the scapegoat for citizen unhappiness over issues that had absolutely nothing to do with him. On the other hand, he paints challenger Liz Walsh as being merely the candidate of change who happened to be in the right place at the right time. “Mickey or Minnie Mouse could have won...”

Amazing. Here we have an election where neither candidate has any agency or responsibility. Mr. Weinstein’s own record, for good or ill, had nothing to do with his loss. Ms. Walsh’s qualifications and platform had nothing to do with her success. And, most of all, voters were completely ignorant and would have voted for anybody.

This makes no sense. While I took no official position on this race, my own observations are at odds with Mr. Caplan’s analysis. Mr. Weinstein cannot truly be depicted as an innocent victim who was walking down Main Street and was inexplicably mowed down by an out of control vehicle. Ms. Walsh is not a random lottery winner whose name was pulled out of a hat. Somebody, somewhere, has to have agency and responsibility here. This particular framing of events simultaneously cushions the Mr. Weinstein’s loss while erasing Ms. Walsh’s win.

While Mr. Caplan is quite knowledgeable and is certainly entitled to his opinion, I think that the reality of the situation doesn’t fit within his framework.

On another topic, I was surprised by his candid lack of enthusiasm about Howard County restaurants and events. After you listen to the episode, let me know what you think. I’d have to say that his unpopular and (perhaps not that) benign opinion is that Howard County is just not a very big deal. Hmm.

And then, right at the end, Mr. Caplan completely redeemed himself by his suggestion as to what we need to do to elevate Maryland. I wish I could copy and paste a quote or two for you here, but podcasts just don’t work that way. In short, he makes a pitch for better education when it comes to civics. We need to place a much higher level of importance in educating citizens to be involved in community affairs, educating themselves about issues, and voting. I agree one hundred per cent.


As a postscript, I see that the folks at Elevate Maryland have invited Liz Walsh to be their next guest. I’m looking forward to learning more about her.

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