Austerity-Mania has gripped the entirety of the nation’s political class (read: “rich white people”), and sadly allegedly liberal Maryland is no exception. Despite resisting the Republican Wave of 2010 and handly re-electing a (supposedly) liberal Democrat Governor, Maryland’s proposed 2011 budget is long on cuts in both education and public works, and extremely short of tax increases for the wealthy and corporations.
Fortunately, the resurgence in the labor movement sparked by the action in Wisconsin has also caught on here in Maryland- as many as 15,000 rank and file, leadership and progressive activists took to the streets of Annapolis and demanded that Democrats who ran on their reputation as the party of labor “Keep the Promise” and balance the budget in a way that doesn’t decimate their ranks and the collective future of the state.
Governor O’Malley, always the opportunist, appeared and quickly reminded the collected crowd (some of whom greeted him with jeers) that the Democrats value labor not for their contributions, but for their campaign money and their votes:
“Look we have tough decisions ahead of us,” O’Malley said. “But we are committed to staying at the table, and figuring this out together” with the unions, he said.
Note there were no promises to preserve pensions or find a way to balance the budget without vicious slashing of education funding and public works. While the above link claims that the crowd was disarmed, I was there and I can report that the majority in attendance were not sold. In fact, it was widely reported that union leadership had resolved not to allow politicians to participate and that the Governor’s staff simply “insisted” that O’Malley be allowed to address the crowd.
Regardless, to see a crowd in Annapolis of this size should give progressives hope that despite the platitudes of centrist hucksters like O’Malley and OFA, there is a legitimate and robust progressive movement being born in this nation- one that is not dependent on the Democrats and their agenda of surrender- one that will hopefully turn back the insane tide of austerity and redistribution of wealth to the richest Americans.