One of the responsibilities of good citizenship is to evaluate candidates for public office to determine their suitability as public servants. After all, we are the employers, and the candidate needs to convince us that he or she is worth hiring or rehiring, and the opponent needs to do the same.
Conversely, they both need to tell us why the other candidate isn't qualified for the job, or needs to be fired. Some would call this "negative campaigning;" political professionals call it "compare and contrast." Bleats of "Can't we all just get along?" aside, it is part of our due diligence as owners of the republic to learn everything we can about those who aspire to leadership.
One of the benefits of federalism is how it provides us with 50 "laboratories of innovation" for policy. We can look at the leaders of other states and how they handle certain issues, and we can inform our evaluations of our own leaders and their policies as a result.
The federal government also benefits from federalism, because they can also learn from policy decisions at the state level.
For example, they can see with their own eyes the failure of mandated, near-universal, government-managed health care run in Massachusetts - highest premiums in the nation, longest wait times to see a primary care physician, and billion-dollar budget deficits - and refrain from implementing a similar program at the national level. What's that? They did it anyway? Never mind.
So as a public service for inquisitive voters, and a lesson on federalism, I'd like to examine the recent actions of two governors - Jan Brewer of Arizona and Chris Christie of New Jersey - on two hot-button issues, and contrast their actions with those of Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley.
It's been nearly impossible to miss the controversy over the immigration bill signed into law last week by Governor Brewer. It's been called "irresponsible" by President Obama, and his allies in the Congress and the press have likened its impact to the Jim Crow laws of the old South and the oppression of Nazi Germany.
Many have accused the governor of encouraging racial profiling with the law, even though the law explicitly forbids it and has safeguards against it. In fact, the law mirrors similar federal statutes which have gone unenforced, so it is effectively a restatement of current law. Of course, liberals don't read the bills, so how would they know?
Governor Brewer is an example of a leader responding to her people's concerns. Crime, including murder, has gone up significantly along the state's border with Mexico, and illegal immigrants are commonly the culprits.
Phoenix, the state's largest city, has become the kidnapping capital of the nation as the Mexican drug cartels' horrific practice of kidnapping for ransom or retaliation, usually resulting in abuse, torture, mutilation or death, spills over the border.
Arizona accounts for half of the marijuana seized along the U.S.-Mexico border, and its porous security has made it, in the words of one report, "the gateway to the U.S. for Mexican drug trafficking." A soft-spoken rancher who often provided food and water to illegal immigrants was murdered by one of them earlier this year.
The federal government has failed to provide for the security and sovereignty of our borders, so Governor Brewer was forced to take action. She put the interests of Arizona's law-abiding citizens and legal immigrants above the unjust demands of illegal immigrants and their sponsors for rights and privileges they've not earned, but taken instead.
People protesting the new law have resorted to vandalism and assault to express themselves. Of course, that's not as newsworthy as the potential for Tea Party protesters to incite violence, despite all evidence to the contrary which shows they've been respectful of law enforcement and public property - but I digress.
Contrast her actions with those of Governor O'Malley who, in the midst of the worst budget crisis in our state's history, signed into law a budget that includes $200,000 for an organization called CASA de Maryland, whose mission statement reads as follows:
CASA's vision is for strong, economically and ethnically diverse communities in which all people - especially women, low-income people, and workers - can participate and benefit fully, regardless of their immigration status (emphasis mine).CASA de Maryland openly flaunts its intent to promote the unlawful presence of illegal immigrants in Maryland, and to secure for them benefits they have not earned, nor should they receive, because they are lawbreakers.
Governor O'Malley has supported relaxed driver's license standards and in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, and now he's giving taxpayer money to an organization that supports illegal immigrants and spits on the rule of law, the value of American citizenship or legal immigrant status, and the well-being and safety of Marylanders.
My wife is a legal immigrant. Before she came to America, I had to ensure she wouldn't be dependent on government assistance. She went through the process and paid the fee to get her permanent resident card and, since she took her first job in America in 1984, she's paid all her taxes. She emigrated to and resides in America according to the law, yet this governor, and his cohorts in the Democratic Party at the state and national level, dishonor her respect for the law and our nation's sovereignty.
The second lesson today involves Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. He inherited a state that is in severe fiscal distress, and is taking a hard line in putting the state on the right track. He used his executive power to immediately freeze $2.2 billion in unspent state money, and directed agencies to live on the money they already have.
He is demanding a one-year pay freeze for teachers so programs that directly affect students won't be cut. The teachers unions countered with a proposal for a tax increase on the wealthy, despite the fact many of the wealthy have fled the state and taken $70 billion of wealth with them. We in Maryland, especially in Montgomery County, know all too well how taxing the wealthy, instead of raising revenue, has the opposite effect.
Governor Christie's answer? No.
"Today, we stop sweeping problems under the rug. We will not hide our problems until another day," he said. "And we are certainly not increasing the tax burden we place upon our people."
The bloated public sector in New Jersey is howling in protest over these and other actions Governor Christie is taking to straighten out the state's budget and make New Jersey attractive to the private sector once again. He is not backing down, and the voters seem to respect his honesty and the line he has drawn in the sand:
And make no mistake: our priorities are to reduce and reform New Jersey's habit of excessive government spending, to reduce taxes, to encourage job creation, to shrink our bloated government, and to fund our responsibilities on a pay-as-you-go basis and not leave them for future generations. In short, to make New Jersey a home for growth instead of a fiscal basket case.I encourage you to read the entire text of his speech to the New Jersey Legislature. It is a rare presentation by a politician determined to make the hard choices and be a good steward of taxpayer dollars.
We have set out in a new direction - a direction dictated by the votes of the people of New Jersey - and I do not intend to turn back. I will not break faith with them or the mandate they have given me.
And what of Governor O'Malley on Maryland's budget crisis? The Washington Post's editors said he has resorted to "accounting gimmicks and quick fixes, as well as some wishful thinking." They accuse him of not solving "the larger problem starting next year and extending to the budgetary horizon," and conclude that "in choosing to postpone hard choices and hope for an economic rebound, Mr. O'Malley is deferring pain, not curing the disease."
Now you know how these three governors have handled the critical issues of illegal immigration and budgetary reform, and you have a yardstick to measure the current employee in Government House. Rehire or fire? The decision is yours.
Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a military veteran, conservative writer and activist, communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party, and executive director of Regular Folks United, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Ron is a regular contributor to RegularFolksUnited.com, American Thinker, and RedCounty.com. You can also follow Ron on his website TeamRonMiller.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook.