Monday, April 30, 2012
Hi. This is my third in a series of posts I’ve been writing about Ben Cardin, one-term Democrat incumbent U.S. Senator from Maryland, who is running for reelection against Republican Dan Bongino, who has never held elective office. Links to the other two articles are at the bottom of this piece. Both candidates are good, honest, hardworking, competent people. That said, I’ve decided to vote for Mr. Bongino, the challenger, based on the failure of the incumbent, Mr. Cardin, to address the major problems we are facing with the focus, “all-in” enthusiasm, aggressiveness and effectiveness the timely resolution of these problems demands.
No question about it, there are political differences between Mr. Cardin and Mr. Bongino on meaningful, important issues. In fact, I don’t agree with everything either candidate believes, but I’m not going to let that bother me. In ordinary times, I would, but not now. I have a short list of really, really critical matters on which I want my Senator’s attention riveted until they’re resolved. Mr. Cardin has been Senator for the last five years, four months, and a Congressman for twenty years before that. Unfortunately, his efforts on my country’s and my family’s behalf have fallen short, way short, of what our national situation requires.
By the way, I get it that the House and Senate are complicated, busy places, long on process, painfully short on progress. I get it, but I don’t care. As a citizen, as a voter, I’m results-oriented. Don’t tell me how hard you’ve worked. Don’t patronize me with political rhetoric. Either solve the problems we’re facing, or step aside and make room for what I like to call the “next contestant.”
And so, I’ve said to myself, “What better indicator of Mr. Cardin’s focus these last five plus years than the bills he’s introduced?” These bills are obviously about the issues he feels are most important, the passing of which is a clear demonstration of his unwavering commitment and legislative skill. I mean, it’s one thing to debate and vote or not vote for someone else’s bill. The ones you introduce, those are the ones that couldn’t wait, the legislation so important that you took the initiative, stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate and said, with pride and determination, “Mr. Vice President, my fellow Senators, I have something important to propose, something vital to the welfare of our republic.” Words to that effect.
Take a look at the table I’ve prepared based on data from www.govtrack.us. Senator Cardin has been in the Senate for the 110th, 111th and two-thirds of the 112th Congresses. In total, he has introduced 105 bills, 39 in 2011 and 2012 to date. Of those 105 bills, only three… That’s not a typo. Only three have been signed into law by the President (Bush or Obama). I’ve included the description of these three bills, none of which is anywhere in the vicinity of addressing a major issue of our time, even tangentially. Eighty-five of the 105 are still classified as “Introduced.” Seventeen are classified as “Reported by Committee.” While Mr. Cardin has done many other things while in office, including committee work of course, and the co-sponsorship of 224 other pieces of legislation, these three relatively unimportant bills that he introduced and a President signed are the total of his personal legislative success during his first, and what should be his only, term in the Senate.
One hundred and five bills. Wow. I don’t think most of us appreciate what our Representatives and Senators do all day. How hard they work, to accomplish so little. Far from being impressive or productive, Mr. Cardin’s efforts – when viewed in the context of the economic, fiscal and other problems we are up against – seem to me to have been a huge waste of time and the $174,000 per year, plus benefits, we are paying him. That this kind of legislative behavior is “par for the course” is no excuse, but only proof positive of how lost our Congress has become.
I think it’s time to give someone else, another good man (or woman), a fresh mandate to respect our nation’s most urgent priorities. Mr. Cardin has had his turn with disappointing results. I’m going to give the new guy, Mr. Bongino, a chance to do it right. And if he doesn’t, I promise you that, six years from now, I’m going to vote to replace him with his opponent. I’m going to keep doing that until we get a Congress that gets the job done.