In July 2015, Governor Larry Hogan endorsed Chris Christie for President: “People say I’m pretty blunt and say exactly what I think. That’s probably why we’re kindred spirits because he [Governor Christie] does the same thing. Most politicians don’t do that.”
Christie’s campaign floundered, and he dropped out of the race February 10, 2016. Christie endorsed Trump two weeks later; Hogan did not follow suit. Instead, at a press conference on March 8, 2016, Hogan announced that he was “completely disgusted with national politics in both parties, Democrats and Republicans,” and that he had no current plans to endorse any candidate. Later, on June 15, 2016, Hogan made it clear he would not vote for Trump, responding to a reporter, “No, I don’t plan to. I guess when I get behind the curtain I’ll have to figure it out. Maybe write someone in. I’m not sure.”
Less than one month before the election, Hogan firmly denounced Trump’s offensive comments about women (e.g., “Grab them by the pussy”): “I thought his comments were disgraceful and outrageous, and it doesn’t change my opinion at all. I was already opposed to his candidacy.”
But then on November 9, the day after the presidential election, Hogan issued a statement: “I offer my congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump and to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and will work with the new administration on behalf of all Marylanders….As we move forward, I encourage both parties to leave behind the divisive politics that have marred this election season and our nation for far too long and focus on doing what is best for America.”
And with this statement, Hogan caved to political expediency, extinguishing the glimmer of moral conviction that we had seen in him.
During a February 10, 2017 radio broadcast, Hogan explained “I’m focused on solving Maryland problems. I have 31 different policy proposals and a real agenda to turn our state around. And the only questions we get are about why aren’t you protesting Donald Trump and why didn’t you go to BWI to do this or that. I don’t see that as my role.”
Hogan says it’s not his role to protest Trump. That is absurd.
- When Trump denigrates Muslims and calls for a ban on Muslims entering our country, shouldn’t Hogan protest on behalf of Maryland Muslims?
- When Trump pushes a healthcare bill that will result in millions of Americans losing healthcare, shouldn’t Hogan protest on behalf of Marylanders dependent on the ACA?
- When Trump says crimes by undocumented immigrants are “ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests,” shouldn’t Hogan protest on behalf of vulnerable Maryland immigrant communities?
- When Trump threatens to defund Planned Parenthood, shouldn’t Hogan protest on behalf of Marylanders who need affordable abortions, contraception, and cancer screenings?
- When Trump proposes slashing funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup, shouldn’t Hogan protest on behalf of Marylanders who make their living from the Bay?
- When Trump submits a budget that decimates Medicaid, food assistance and health insurance for low-income children shouldn’t Hogan protest on behalf of Maryland’s poor and working class?
Yes, he should. Hogan protested Barack Obama. Despite claiming a “great relationship” with Barack Obama, he repeatedly urged voters to make him “a one-term president.”
Despite his self-proclaimed reputation for being “blunt” and “saying exactly what I think,” Hogan has not been blunt about Trump since the election. In fact, Hogan doesn’t want to talk about Trump at all. A key word search of “Trump” on the governor’s website yields no results. In contrast, a key word search of “Obama” yields eight hits. Moreover, Hogan’s team has systematically deleted comments on the governor’s Facebook page from constituents asking Hogan to condemn Trump. I myself discovered after emailing the governor several times on the subject of Trump, that my emails were automatically bouncing back as undeliverable. (P.S. I never used profanity.)
In hindsight, I believe Hogan took a calculated risk. I suspect he felt that not voting for Trump would curry favor among his constituents given that Maryland supported Clinton by a wide margin. He assumed that Trump would not be elected based on the polls, and therefore there would be few repercussions for not endorsing him.
That calculated risk backfired when Trump was elected. Hogan, fearing the wrath of Trump, did an about-face. Whatever concerns he has about Trump have been squashed.
Hogan enjoys great support in Maryland. According to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll published on March 25, 2017, Hogan has a 65% approval rating among Marylanders. People trust him. He has a unique ability to open his constituents’ minds to the disgrace that is Trump. And yet he does not. Hogan’s silence on Trump normalizes Trump’s hateful and dangerous ideology as if it were just one point of view among many, no better, no worse.
We all need to speak out against Trump. He is ripping apart the pillars of democracy and the tenets of basic human decency. I know it and I am sure Hogan knows it. I feel a moral responsibility to speak out, and so should he, and so should we all.
Come the 2018 elections, voters should remember that Governor Hogan chose political expediency over moral conviction, leaving his constituents vulnerable to Trump’s dangerous agenda. We need a governor who is not afraid to speak out, protest, and defend the rights of all Marylanders. Governor Hogan has proven he is not that person. For all his bluster, he has proven himself to be a coward.
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