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The Tentacle


August 30, 2007

The 126th Annual Maryland State Fair

Chris Cavey

The best 11 days of summer 2007 are upon us and that means just one thing - The 126th Annual Maryland State Fair. For those of us who "work" the Fair, it means meeting and greeting the public while "selling your wares" in the main Exhibition Hall. My sale is, as always, The Maryland Republican Party.

This year the MDGOP's booth location has been demoted, a bit like the public's perception of our party, to the back of the hall. Yes, we're wedged in-between the Shaklee products girl and the 911-call center, a tough spot made even tougher due to the fact most of the Maryland State agencies are across the aisle (where they now belong) with prominent pictures of Gov. Martin O'Malley displayed.

No matter the placement, to the surprise of many of us, the activity level at the Republican booth has been busy - always. Signature petitions opposing pending gasoline and sales tax increases are as popular as the candy basket on the table. "Don't Blame Me - I Voted for Ehrlich" bumper stickers are also in high demand and are flying off the table.

But regardless of the change in booth location, the one thing that never changes from Fair to Fair is the people. There is a new smile to be had by the political savvy everyday from witnessing the infinite ignorance of the general public concerning politics, their elected officials, and the general workings of our government.

My favorite Fair day each year is always the first Sunday, which is Volunteer Day. The political philosophy of those who only attend the fair when admission is free is - in fact - priceless.

Explanations and public pontifications concerning Bob Ehrlich's 2006 loss, slots in Maryland, electric rate increases and illegal immigration have been so interesting at times, that all we in the booth could do is smile and nod in agreement because argument or even explanation of true facts could never match the fantasized stories the public recounts.

We have listened to various opinion and wisdom from the public. For example, one of the best is how President George W. Bush called Governor O'Malley last week and told him he must raise the gas tax or there will be no money next year to fix Maryland's bridges. "I know that is the real reason behind the proposed gas tax - it's President Bush's fault. I heard it at work.Oh, by the way do you mind if I take some extra candy?"

Unbelievably some people do not even realize there is a presidential election in 2008. Only the George Bush haters know the date by heart and most of them aren't stopping to chat. Frankly, the Hillary haters are chatting way too long.

From a candidate-campaign standpoint, only the Ron Paul for President workers have been diligent in their quest to spam the fair with literature. The Fred Thompson people shot a video for You Tube on Saturday, but that only took an hour or two. Most all of the Republican campaigns have been passive, at best.

For those on the fringes of the political world, who scratch their heads and don't understand why our political system is as shallow and unpredictable as it is, a day at the fair with the voting public will make you understand. Apathy, misinformation and just plain rumor from the office, dominate the thoughts and perception of the average voter. Few hunt for information and even fewer educate themselves on facts.

Combine those issues with the constant influence of the biased media and you soon see why perception and facts become skewed. Many people are sure if it is in print it must be true, after all newspapers are a service to the public.or so they believe. Fear of the unknown also leaks through many conversations. No one wants to pay extra for any government services, but none wish to loose a single government benefit they are currently taking advantage of - especially our senior citizens.

In short the Republican Party's stock is rising and sales at the Fair are up. We have registered more voters in the first three days than we did in 11 days last year. Activity is up with signatures reaching another all time high. The ballot box for the Straw Poll was full inside of four days and a second box brought to the site. All good signs.

Perhaps there is some disgust and desire for change brewing in the general public and perhaps many are looking to the Party of Lincoln to provide change; or maybe it's just the fact we don't mind if you take an extra piece of candy--after all it's free.



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