Maryland, My Maryland

I live with my family in one of the bluest places in the nation—Montgomery County, Maryland. We have some things you might expect—relatively high taxes, some of the best schools in the nation, quite a bit of diversity (we’re nothing on Arlington County, Virginia, with 100-plus nationalities in the schools, but our announcements come home in English, Spanish, French, and Amharic, the local cult-ish house whose inhabitants wear head-to-toe purple).

And, as I learned last night, we're a state where the Democratic Party had selected convention delegates on sex-segregated lists since 1984. I thought perhaps my local elementary school-polling place had been transported to Sweden or Rwanda. But no, it turns out that in 1984 the Democratic Party ordered state parties to ensure that each state delegation contained equal numbers of men and women, after permitting them to do that in 1976 (since 1968 the party had been wrestling with how to enfranchise minorities and women without quotas). Maryland, after noting that direct election of delegates tended not to produce equitable results, decided to have voters choose male and female delegates separately. It appears that West Virginia and New York’s Democratic parties also do this. Michigan and Washington, D.C. do not. As to the other 46 states plus Puerto Rico in which I have not (yet?) voted in a presidential primary … readers?

This separation seems to have some unexpected implications. Last night I noticed that all the female choices were pledged to Obama—among the men, though, I could choose between Obama and “uncommitted.” And the Interwebs yield up a failed lawsuit by an individual who was distressed that in the 1984 presidential primary he had fewer delegate options in order to support Lyndon LaRouche, and no male delegate options to support George McGovern. (His suit was thrown out.) Would it be possible to disadvantage a presidential contender if, Lysistrata-style, all the area’s women political activists refused to run as delegates for, say, Anthony Weiner? (By the way, the joy of Google searching reveals the possibility of vacation in the Greek bungalow colony “Lysistrata.” Hmmm.)

But don’t get too excited about how blue we are. Apparently we are not blue enough to give our best-in-the-nation teachers big enough budgets for school supplies. A note came home asking us to contribute to a present for my son’s graduating student teacher (shhh, don’t tell). What should it be? School supplies: glitter, pens, stickers, mechanical pencils, markers… “because a new teacher’s first September credit card bill is a nasty shock.”

And, if you’re a regular reader of E.J.’s you’ll know that we’ve got a little referendum coming up on our just-signed marriage equality law this November. How’s that going? Last month’s polls give pro-equality forces somewhere between 50-52 percent, and antis between 44-50 percent. 

That blue is looking pretty watery. I’m gonna run out and buy some glitter to cheer myself up.

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