An alarming pall has fallen upon the 442nd session of the 2021 Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis. Fear of a protest like the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U. S. Capitol permeates every state capital in our fractious country, specifically tomorrow, Inauguration Day in Washington.
It’s disappointing and distressing. The threat is real. Those who propagated the horrible assault on our citadel of democracy two weeks ago are supposedly planning protests in state capitals.
Any resemblance these irresponsible people have to patriots is illusory. They are pursuing action grounded in fictional evidence of election fraud. They are questioning the legitimate votes of citizens living in states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
They are using protests to argue against democracy, which they likely feel they are protecting in the name of total nonsense. It’s shameful, if not dangerous and divisive.
When I drove last Thursday near Maryland’s historic State House in Annapolis with my 10-year-old grandson, I pointed out police cars that normally are not sitting in key locations, as a deterrent to abominable behavior. My grandson asked me: why state capitals?
Because they too represent our precious democracy under attack by misguided men and women distrustful of our nearly flawless election process.
Grandparents love to convey a scintilla of wisdom to their loved ones to help guide them in their lives. I had no wisdom to pass along, just dismay. I could tell him only the bare truth: some of our fellow citizens are determined to wreak havoc for reasons evident only to them and their twisted ways of thinking.
These fellow Americans traffic in conspiracies. They are delusional.
Death of a political giant added to the pall.
Last Friday, our political structure in Maryland suffered a great blow in the death of the former, longtime president of the Maryland State Senate, Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. He died at age 78 of prostate cancer, which had invaded his bones. He battled cancer for two years.
Miller was a powerful force in Annapolis and Maryland, one of the most astute politicians to roam the halls of our State House. Few could match his acumen and savvy.
My dealings with Sen. Miller were mostly peripheral. I pled for his cooperation when I served as the Maryland National Guard’s project officer for the 1994 inauguration of Gov.-elect Parris N. Glendening. I knew that their relationship was fraught.
A governor’s inauguration always happens in the cramped State Senate chamber. Though I knew that such a well-attended ceremony would be better suited for the larger, more spacious House of Delegates chamber, I knew better than ignite Miller’s quick-trigger temper and his devotion to tradition and history.
As it turned out, Senate President Miller was gracious, agreeing to every request offered by Glendening and his staff. My worries about Miller and his relationship with the governor-elect were unfounded.
Our paths would cross periodically. His swath of power was so wide and deep that it would have been impossible to avoid his political reach. Like many, I was sometimes surprised by his public profanity and ribald humor.
I wondered: how does he get away with his questionable verbiage?
Mike Miller was a political maestro of immense talent and teach. He knew his turf. He could predict when it would shift and stay ahead of the unpredictable winds of public opinion.
He was a history buff, using the past to guide him in the present and future. He understood human nature, and how it functioned in the crucible of a sometime rough-and-tumble legislative session.
He loved his native state, the State Senate and the Democratic Party. And, yes, he was an avid and protective alumnus of the University of Maryland.
He fought his Stage 4 cancer bravely and gracefully. He could not gather enough votes to beat his worsening prognosis.
Our democracy will survive, bolstered by the likes of Mike Miller, though weakened by shameless protesters in Washington and possibly Annapolis.
Would it not be helpful and healthy if there were a vaccination for common sense and decency? I suspect the clinical trials would prove fruitless.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.