Maryland politics from a DC perspective

Adelaide Kaiser

Walking into a “Get Out the Vote” rally for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, the only thing I knew was that Bernie Sanders would be there and that it was likely going to be a very liberal event. After filing into the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on October 30, I made my way to the standing room floor. Volunteers were handing out posters for Jealous and a woman was speaking onstage, urging the audience to get out to vote. After her, a man sang a song about overcoming hardship and discrimination.

Then came some bigger politicians, such as Maryland Democratic Party head Kathleen Matthews and Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh. They were fighting hard for Jealous, talking about important issues such as climate change, the criminal justice system, and improving public schools. With each person, the cheers got louder and louder, particularly when Jealous’ running mate, Susie Turnbull, gave an especially rousing speech.

Before Jealous and Sanders took the stage, a Maryland nurse and special education teacher came up to talk about their jobs and why Maryland would benefit from Jealous’ leadership. They spoke of the importance of funding for schools and medical research and how they needed a leader like Jealous to fight for them.

Once Jealous and Sanders made it out onstage, the crowd was on its feet. They gave heartfelt speeches about the future of Maryland and the important things that needed to be changed. Heavily emphasized was the way that current governor, Larry Hogan, had been detrimental to the state–shady real estate deals, Maryland’s public schools falling from number 1 to number 8. Sanders made it clear that Jealous was the only person that would bring Maryland the progressive leader it needs. Jealous thanked the crowd for their support and told them to bring their friends and family to the polls to vote.

While I was leaving the venue, I was struck by the way that I had just experienced–for the first time–what it was like to live in a true state. Living in DC, I have never attended a rally for governor. I’ve never had a voting senator. The rally gave me hope, because there were people that really cared about the issues that are important to me. But it also made me feel helpless. How am I supposed to be able to affect change when my vote doesn’t make it past the local government?

This election is a critical one for the US. The fact that DC residents have no say in how the House or Senate look after November 6 is frustrating. Because my family lives three miles away from the venue where Jealous was speaking, just over the DC border, we have no voice.

But the people engaging in the political process in Maryland gave me optimism for what lies ahead. Our future is in their hands, and I left hoping that Jealous would win the election. But more importantly, I left hoping that one day, I would vote for governor of DC.