Even those who don’t believe much in free will generally believe that individuals have freedom to choose for whom to vote in free elections.

Whatever one’s complaints regarding politics in America, no serious observer claims that most people’s freedom to vote has been seriously attenuated in the United States, certainly not in Baltimore.

Which brings us to the critical decision that Baltimore City residents have to make. After endless revelations of the unethical, self-serving and incompetent leadership that has haunted the city, including unlawful leadership that is no longer deniable even by the criminal perpetrators, the city has an election that is coming up that at least gives its electorate the chance to say: “No more proven criminals will get my vote.”

You can always find former unethical leaders who “made the trains on time,” as was (falsely) claimed to compliment evil fascist Benito Mussolini (David Dudley, The Problem with Mussolini and His Trains,” CityLab November 15, 2016 https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2016/11/the-problem-with-mussolini-and-his-trains/507764/

I am not interested in debating the relative (in)effectiveness of former mayors, some of whom oversaw marginally fewer killings and marginally less violence overall during their tenure for a multitude of reasons irrelevant to their leadership. Criminal leaders forced to leave office cannot be cleansed for public office by citing minor reductions in crime during their tenure and gaining endorsements from amoral sources.

It is a fortuitous coincidence that should finally enlighten Baltimore voters to their own contribution to the miseries caused by their longterm miscreant leadership. On the same day — May 5 — as the Sun’s front page screams praise for a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s criminal misconduct, a letter was printed from Baltimore’s principal “see no evil; hear no evil” political kingmaker Larry Gibson, recommending disgraced former mayor Sheila Dixon for Baltimore’s next mayor.

One would need more space than I have here to go through all of the criminal and personal transgressions of the convicted former mayor and her theft of gift cards from impoverished children; her pressuring of Comcast to steer business to her sister’s company, further destroying any sense of fairness in competitive bidding in the city; engineering tax breaks for her lover; etc.; etc.; etc.

Many of us pundits raged against Pugh and Dixon on television, radio and even in the Sun during their years of illicit service (“Pugh Deserves No Honors,” December 26, 2017, https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/readers-respond/bs-ed-rr-pugh-moy-20171226-story.html) when the Sun was endorsing them for office and giving them mentions for Marylander of the Year — the latter of which parenthetically included Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City), a supporter of anti-Semite Rev. Louis Farrakhan.

For the Sun, learning who bad principals are is better late than never, even though it is almost always late. For the voters in Baltimore, ignoring the previous criminality of current candidates will further guarantee the permanence of misery, decline and, by definition, criminal leadership.

No one in Baltimore can claim, “We didn’t know at all; we didn’t see a thing.” If the electorate elects a criminal, they deserve what they get.

The responsibility will be theirs.

Richard Vatz

Professor Vatz has taught political persuasion at Towson University for over 45 years and is author of The Only Authentic of Persuasion: the Agenda-Spin Model  (LAD Custom Publishing, 2019) ) and the co-editor of Thomas S. Szasz: the Man and His Ideas (Transaction Publishers, 2017). The author has no personal interest in the mayoral race and has made only one donation — to City Council President candidate Carl Stokes.