Monday, October 13, 2008

MD's 2nd District, 2008

In Maryland's second district, I've got three choices to choose from, two libertarians and an incumbent Democrat. I am not planning to vote for the incumbent as he voted in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour; he voted against measures to increase free trade between the United States and our Central American neighbors; voted to repeal federal spending limits on embryonic stem cell research; and opposed measures to cut back on illegal immigration.

This leads me back to the other two candidates, the ones I refer to as both libertarian. One of the two libertarians is a Ron Paul activist named Richard Matthews who hopes to work within the GOP to help push more libertarian leaning goals. His platform is one of minimal government and minimal foreign intervention, two of the major planks of Ron Paul's 2008 platform. He's been actively rallying against the "bailout" proposals and has been advertising on the radio through WBAL, which I've only known because I checked out his website. If I hadn't, I never would have known he's been doing radio ads. It could be mostly because I don't listen to talk radio, but that's neither here nor there.

Matthews has an innovative approach to displaying his ideas on the issues -- he details exactly how he'd vote on every piece of legislation that came before Congress. Using that, you can figure out how and why Matthews would vote if elected to Congress. If you agree or disagree, at least you'd know where he was coming from. The problem with this approach, is that it doesn't allow us to see a cohesive list of his ideals. It shows how he'll vote, sure, and I like most of what I see, but it fails to show the ideology that Matthews will bring to the table if elected to Congress.

The Libertarian with a capital L is named Lorenzo Gaztañaga. Gaztañaga is a Cuban immigrant who became a US citizen in 1973. He's seen communism and I would bet dollars to donuts this is partially responsible for his libertarian leaning views. He's the former Libertarian state party chairman according to Politics1.com, so I'm not sure how useful his tenure in that post was. Libertarians would have to fill me in on his tenure. According to his biography, he's a frequent candidate for office as a Libertarian, running for Baltimore City Council and Lieutenant Governor in the past. His platform is detailed in a less formal way. Gaztañaga writes as though he's sitting and talking to you about his ideas. His views are all about teeny-tiny government in all it's glory. Yet, his foreign policy ideas are not 100% isolation, but intervention when our nation's security is at risk. How so? When we're attacked, not the threat of attack. He supports better intelligence to make certain attacks don't happen again and completion of the War in Afghanistan. On climate change, he has an interesting platform that I feel compelled to share --
"I am not going to pretend that we humans do not affect our environment - our water, our air, etc. Of course we do. Nor am I going to ridicule people who have a concern for global warming, or climate change. I'm no expert on any of this, but unlike Al Gore, I'm not going to pretend that I am. From what I've read and listened to, the planet earth is much like any living organism. It undergoes changes and responds to the environment in which it is.

Back in the tenth and eleventh centuries, our planet underwent a warming period. (And remember, back then, there were no carbon producing engines.) This event allowed Norse colonists to settle in Greenland, where they raised crops, had animal husbandry, and a relatively good and prosperous life for that time period, much like Maryland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

When this warming trend ended a couple of hundred years later, the Norse settlers failed, died, or had to eventually evacuate, because they failed to adapt. They had a
model of adaptation right in front of them - the earlier colonists of Greenland, the so-called Eskimos, who knew how to live in cold weather. They refused to adapt, and they failed. To me, climate change sends this message - we have to adapt, whether it's colder or warmer, we have to adapt, and to be always mindful that if I pollute my neighbor's air, water or soil, I either have to pay to clean it or give my neighbor the money to clean it - and then stop my nasty ways. That is how we should deal with the environment today, by applying English common law - the basis for our legal system."
It's an interesting approach, one that I'd like to see more detailed. Gaztañaga is an interesting candidate who it would be interesting to hear speak in a public setting. In fact, it'd be interesting to see him put forward some detailed policy papers on his ideas for change. Perhaps some example pieces of legislation.

What I would like to see from Matthews is the following --
Publicly challenge the incumbent and Gaztañaga to a debate with formal invitations submitted to each of them AND members of the media. Hold the debate as scheduled no matter who is in attendance and film the debate. Air it on YouTube and your website.

Host a town hall style meeting, inviting Democrats, Republicans, and Independents at random. Send out a mass mailer in a smaller subsection of the district, including local press members, and hold the event at a local fire department or school (if possible). Film this and air it on your website.

Write letters to the Editor to the Baltimore Sun. Ask supporters to do the same.
From Gaztañaga, I'm not sure what he can do to increase voter awareness of his campaign. Making up posters, door-to-door meeting with voters, and perhaps trying to see if local colleges would allow him to speak sound like the best options to me. If there's a young Libertarian group out there that works on the ground game for Libertarian candidates, it might be worth coordinating with them. Groups like that, though, tend to be centralized around college campuses.

Ron Paul's recent visit to town had to fire up the libertarian leaning voters in the district. Matthews and Gaztañaga need to tap into that and have a good plan for getting out the vote. Matthews should coordinate with the McCain campaign's local get out the vote efforts even if he disagrees with McCain. Greater GOP members getting out to vote in the district will increase your vote percentage. But, that's just my 2¢.

My vote is currently up in the air between Gaztañaga and Matthews. I'd love to hear from them both on some specific issues that are of import to me. If either of them are willing, I'd be happy to email them a list of questions and post their responses here.

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