Cennamology Chief Editor
Rep. Andy Harris's (R-Md) latest piece of legislation is an amendment to the House budget bill essentially overturning the District of Columbia's recent law decriminalizing marijuana.
Understandably, local D.C. politicians are irate. Harris has no right to use his power to boss around the District of Columbia, where not one single person cast a vote in Harris's favor, nor would any one voter in D.C. do so if he ever were on a ballot there. Residents are so angry with Harris and his grossly undemocratic amendment that one D.C. rights group, D.C. Vote, is organizing a boycott of Maryland's Eastern Shore, encouraging residents to cancel all vacations to Ocean City or from buying any products or shopping at any businesses based in the Eastern Shore.
Harris has very little influence in his home state, where he was unsuccessful in dissuading the Maryland General Assembly from decriminalizing marijuana. Consequently, in order to satisfy his appetite for power he is trying to control the District of Columbia by attempting to overturn laws passed by the lawmakers that the citizens of D.C. elected. Shame on him!
Therefore, singling out the Eastern Shore for the boycott does not make much sense, as it is only home to about half of the district that Harris represents. Not only that, punishing the entire district for idiotic legislation introduced by one power-hungry congressman is not fair to the people of Maryland's 1st district, many of whom did not even vote for Harris, and even more of whom do not support Harris's attempt to bully the residents of D.C.
The Eastern Shore is actually the area of the district where Harris performs the worst. In the 2008 elections, Harris's first run for Congress, Harris easily won the Baltimore suburbs where he is from. However, he was trounced on the Eastern Shore, which carried that election for Frank Kratovil. Two years later in the GOP wave of 2010, Harris made a comeback, defeating Kratovil largely due to the vote of the Baltimore suburbs. Even in the wave year, the Eastern Shore was evenly split between Kratovil and Harris. Unlike 2008, it was the Baltimore suburb's voters that decided the election, not the Eastern Shore. In 2012, Harris was running against a Democratic candidate who two months prior to the election withdrew due to a discovery that she committed voter fraud. Legally, she was unable to be taken off the ballot. Therefore, we have a better idea of Harris's popularity (or should I say unpopularity) on the Eastern Shore from 2008 and 2010 than we do from 2012.
In fact, one voter once told me that "it was not the Eastern Shore who wanted him [Harris], it was the people in Baltimore County and Harford County that wanted him."
So why are Norton and D.C. Vote singling out Eastern Shore vacation spots and businesses in their boycott? The Harris amendment passed the House Appropriations Committee 28-21, so why is D.C. Vote not also calling for a boycott of all 28 representatives who supported the amendment?
I am not saying they should boycott the Baltimore suburbs, or the districts of any member who voted for the amendment. I am saying they should not be boycotting anybody except for Harris himself. They should picket outside his D.C. office instead of cancelling vacations to Ocean City and refraining from buying Perdue chicken. Do not punish the hardworking residents of the Eastern Shore because Andy Harris is (once again) doing something incredibly dimwitted and flat out disrespectful.
During her speech on Friday, Norton said that the Eastern Shore "is only good as a vacation spot." As a person who went to college on the Eastern Shore and received a great education from there, I am offended by the statement, despite my admiration for the representative from the District of Columbia. Norton seems to believe that the entire Eastern Shore is only Ocean City. There are many cities and towns on the Eastern Shore, not just Ocean City.
The Eastern Shore is home to many hard-working citizens, including dedicated public servants, community-building business owners, and many more people who love their state and love their community. Calling on a boycott of Eastern Shore vacation spots is punishing regular people who are business owners in Ocean City and depend on those who visit there during the summer. Telling the people of D.C. to refrain from spending money at these businesses is wrongfully punishing hard-working Marylanders who may not have even voted for Harris.
I am not only calling on Norton to discourage her residents from continuing the boycott, I am also calling on Harris to drop his attack on the home rule of D.C. It is disgusting the lack of respect that Harris is showing the people of D.C. What he is doing is flat out tyrannical, which is a word I do not use often.
Harris should instead focus on serving the needs of the people of the Eastern Shore, something he has never been good at doing. Instead of being preoccupied with the marijuana laws of D.C., he should focus on his own district's affairs. Nobody living in D.C. cast a vote for him, so he should not try to impose his will on them. This just proves that Harris is not the "small government" guy he claims to be, as he is crossing the border into D.C. to use legislation to tell them what to do.
Harris wants to continue the trend of racially discriminatory enforcement of marijuana laws, young people having their lives turned upside down by marijuana-related arrests, and spending millions of dollars to incarcerate people convicted of marijuana charges. He campaigned on cutting spending and small government, but his amendment patronizing the people of D.C. is the epitome of large, intrusive government and BIG spending.
While the boycott is unproductive, I understand perfectly why the people of D.C. are very angry with Harris. They are not alone. Many people all over the Eastern Shore are angry with him too, and would love nothing more than to see him defeated. Instead of wasting energy on an Eastern Shore boycott, they should be volunteering for or sending money to Harris's opponent in November. Andy Harris is one of, if not the, worst members of Congress - and if this incident does not prove that, I don't know what does. I wish Harris would want the government to get out of D.C. residents' lives like he wants the government to get out of Christian ones.
To donate to Harris's 2014 opponent, you can visit his website here.