Black voters succumbed to Glendening demagogy

November 07, 1998|By GREGORY KANE

THE GUBERNATORIAL election's over. The best woman lost.

Republican candidate Ellen Sauerbrey garnered only 44 percent the vote in Tuesday's election. Incumbent Gov. Parris Glendening's 56 percent of the total vote included the great majority of Baltimore's 55 percent turnout and about 90 percent of the black vote statewide.

The large Baltimore turnout might have been the result of an extensive get-out-the-vote campaign. Mr. Integrity himself, President Bill Clinton, blew into town Sunday and urged black voters to converge on the polls. Jesse Jackson, Mr. Integrity-With- an-Afro, was in Baltimore the next night for the same reason.

The election results must give black liberal Democratic leaders in Maryland cause for joy. Their goal has been achieved: The

collective lips of black Maryland voters are now permanently sutured to the rump of the Democratic party jackass. The display of devotion Maryland's African-Americans showed for the Democratic Party raises the question of whether we are its supporters or its Myrmidons.

Blacks in other states were not so uncritically obsequious toward the Democrats. Willie and Gwen Daye Richardson of Houston, black publishers of Headway magazine, openly supported Republican Gov. George W. Bush, who was re-elected with the help of 25 percent of the black vote. His brother Jeb received considerable black support during his successful campaign in the Florida gubernatorial race. Black Republican candidates in several states won statewide office.

This is as it should be. Political campaigns are, more than anything, about the clash of ideas. And there are blacks who like conservative ideas, who support the notion that the best government is the one that, as much as possible, stays out of your life and keeps its greedy meat hooks out of your wallet.

It's quite the pity more Maryland blacks didn't support Sauerbrey. Surely more than 10 percent of black Maryland voters could use a break in their state income taxes. When you vote Democratic, you're all but telling the government it's OK to pick your pocket.

Some blacks -- we have no way of knowing how many -- may vTC have been taken in by the deception the Glendening campaign put out about Sauerbrey's "civil rights record."

Sauerbrey "voted against civil rights," the Glendeningites trumpeted. Her offense was voting against a rewording of an open-housing law already on the books, voting against requiring Maryland State Police to document crimes against gays and voting against a bill that favored more protection from sexual harassment. All this information was reported in an Oct. 30 Sun article by Thomas Waldron. It was information the governor's campaign advisers had no use for.

The way the Glendening television ads ran -- flashing a black face on the screen whenever mention was made of Sauerbrey's voting "against civil rights" -- were clearly intended to portray her as a racist. Three black political figures felt the implication was so outrageous that they went public. Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, former 44th District state Sen. Clarence Mitchell and Del. Frank Boston all declared Sauerbrey was not a racist. Their comments also appeared in the Oct. 30 Sun. C. Fraser Smith and William Zorzi wrote it. You have to wonder how many of the blacks who voted for Glendening read it.

Attacking Sauerbrey's "civil rights record" was straight-up demagogy, political campaigning right out of the toilet. Glendening's folks were so good at toilet politics that they should inspire us to think of a new honor: the Golden Commode Award.

The Golden Commode will be given every election year to the candidate who goes below and beyond the call of duty in his or her political campaign. For his attempt to portray Sauerbrey as an extremist about gun laws and for the spurious implication that she is in line as the next grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, Glendening gets the inaugural Golden Commode Award.

But awards have names. For the movies, a golden statue named Oscar is handed out. For television, it's the Emmy, and for the music industry, it's the Grammy.

The Golden Commode Award will be a lead replica of a toilet adorned with the cheapest gold paint we could find. But what would we call it?

Let's hold another election to find a suitable name. The Flushy or the Johnny sound about right.

Pub Date: 11/07/98

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