Hogan Can Make America United Again in 2024

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At his 2019 inaugural ball, Gov. Larry Hogan goofed around with a purple surfboard given to him by his State Police protection detail. In his new book, Hogan describes surfing the Democratic blue wave in the 2018 election that left other Republicans under water. Governor’s Office photo

On completing my graduate program in social work at Louisiana State University, the field director, Traci Lily told us, “I like to say post-COVID because even though we are at the height of it, again, there will be a post-COVID.”

We were emotional. As the social work graduate class of 2020, as MSW social workers, we learned two things: to be flexible and to have hope. If we could survive the worst tragedy since 1918, we know what it takes to lead.

We just spent that last few weeks taking calls from frontline health care workers at the Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center in Baton Rouge, a hospital system of 10,000 employees. At a distance, I heard their struggles, working without pay, nurses needing pantry handouts for their kids, and the faith and resolve of so many. In a hospital, often hierarchy wins, the doctor is most important, with the long coat, the social worker, the least, with the short coat.

The pandemic made everyone look the same. Suddenly, the staff realized that custodians played an important role for patients. Patient and staff mental health were critical.  The staff truly became one. Though an online student who never stepped foot in Louisiana, I learned to love LSU, the Tigers, and Louisiana. They know crisis and crisis prevention.

We need to be there when the autopilot comes off.

Maryland and Louisiana: The Tale of Two “Cities”

I started to realize with my program evaluation experience that I was seeing something very different play out in Maryland and Louisiana. Governor Larry Hogan wasted little time in acknowledging the seriousness of COVID. As a result, Maryland was one of the first states to shutter all schools and to initiate a lockdown. Here in Maryland, there was little controversy over mask-wearing. The Governor made it clear: everyone wears a mask when in businesses. What became political in Louisiana and every place else, it seemed, did not in Maryland.

Not only did Governor Hogan, act quickly. Given Maryland’s logistics, with a major airport and the heart of the Nation still beating in the District of Columbia, he could not just shut the State down. He and the State’s First Lady worked with South Korea to get hold of tests. Consistently, Maryland kept the virus at bay. There are ups and downs, but Maryland has done very well with testing. As a biracial couple, they used their position and diversity to keep Marylanders safe, a far cry from what our President does. Such could be a powerful unifying force in a post-Trump era.

I had a COVID test on Friday and got my negative result in on Sunday. The test was easy. It just made my eyes water and me a bit sneezy. It took me 10 minutes to get a test, no lines, smooth, and simple.

COVID and the Made-Up Liberal Conspiracy

If we want to believe bad journalism, self-serving President appointees, and foreign meddlers in our 2020 elections, the whole COVID thing is fake. Doctors and nurses are liars and some massive socialist monstrosity is faking the virus or deliberately infecting people. If such were true, why is it that a Republican governor does no such thing but acknowledges science, respects researchers, and the disease itself? Why is it that these “Make America Great Again” folks are totally fine with Russia, where the birth of communism took hold? They seem totally fine with Russian meddling, and are complacent or accepting in Russia putting a price on our service members’ heads? Just go to an ER or make an appointment to visit a funeral home where the pandemic is high.  Would you punch a mortician for exaggerating while the wake is in full sight?

But elections are seldom won on truth. They are won by stoking emotion and fear. The truth is that in hospitals, and where front-line workers live, there are liberals and conservatives on the front lines, witnessing more than a quarter-million Americans die in five months. That is not fake.

Trump the Destroyer

I’ve watched President Donald Trump since the 1990s and, like many, visited his hotels and casinos in Vegas and in Atlantic City. I can assess anyone’s mental health, and what I learned is that our current President is an expert destroyer. He is good and ripping people and things apart. This is his specialty, and he absolutely thrives on it. He has no empathy, remorse, loyalty, or consideration for the Nation or anyone else. He loves the “strong man,” the mob boss. The rallies the President loves has nothing to do with him loving people, his supporters. Instead, Trump is a huge leech that sucks up the crowd’s energy because it’s the only way his fragile ego can go on. His very ego creates environmental and humanitarian disasters. Trump’s praise is as soulless as his real estate.

The United States is nothing more than a hotel or casino to our President. He’d sell it to Russia on a dime, all the people included. Those loyal to him only care about fortune and power that grab on and flatter any powerful person. Trump is a presidential leech; his host the United States. Then his appointees are presidential fleas. In this way, both prey on one another. Few care about the U.S. while drunken on hopes of power.

To the Trump Voter, Trump is Saving the White Race

Anyone that looks at demographics knows one thing, the Republican Party will die because most of its supporters are white men and blue-collar, or rich white men. The country is turning brown. This is what is at stake. White men and some women feel threatened by skin darker than theirs, and the President is there to stoke those fears and win reelection. He just may start the second civil war, but he doesn’t care because all that matters is winning at any cost. He will support White Supremacy with a strong Neo-Nazi history, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jung Un, people the President admires for their selfishness and brutality. Fox News is right there twisting facts and brainwashing seniors, while CNN drops journalistic reporting in favor of being left-leaning. Both have the same goal: keep people continuously afraid and engaged. It’s about making money.

The love of Trump has little to do with the narcissistic and anti-social demagogue named Trump because, like his buildings, they are empty caricatures with only a glittery shell. Trump is nothing, believes nothing, values nothing, and has no policy, direction, or philosophy. He has no morality, no ethics, no principles, and no love for anyone including his own family or nation.  Trump is no conservative. Trump hates conservatives, and he does not believe in the evangelical God. No, the President brings the ugly, exposes our hatred and fear. This election is about keeping the white minority in power. If he loses, then “America” turns forever brown.

This is why the GOP has decided to abandon democracy in favor of conservatism. Never mind that the President also serves office to liberals also, that liberals died right along with conservatives, Muslims with Christians, and “Mexicans” along with blond-hair, blue-eyed Marines. Conservatives are heroes on the front-lines of COVID just like their liberal or “socialist” brothers and sisters. They die together. Cemeteries seldom mark one’s political affiliation. In the end, we all end up in the same place, even Trump.

The President once lamented why we cannot have more people like Norwegians come to the United States, “Well, Mister President, because they live in a socialist democracy.”

Hogan May be the GOP’s Future

Talented people lead. I am not a fan of some of Governor Hogan’s policies, but if this pandemic has ripped the United States’ hidden inequalities wide open for all to see, it also showed who can lead. I cannot, as a liberal, fail to acknowledge the good work Governor Hogan has done because he understands that Maryland is made up of Americans, and as a lawmaker in a largely democratic state, he also knows we need to start acting like big boys and girls, not fundamentalists. We have to negotiate, and there are moments we must all come together to fight a threatening enemy. We have had enough division. We have had enough anger and hate, all directed at people and things that are seldom the cause of our anger. We are just manipulated into believing they are.

The war of this century may very well be COVID, Trump’s War, and he ran away and left us all for dead.

In today’s America, civility and civic duty has been replaced by vulgar cursing because we think if one curse’s that they are honest. The language one uses has nothing to do with being honest. I trusted Governor Hogan enough to put my kids in school face-to-face because he earned that trust. There is a risk, but he is leading the best he can.

He takes on but respects the virus; he knows how to be a boss, not a mob boss, and he has a heart. He fought cancer and knows the seriousness of the serious illness. Yes, he is still a politician (damn them!), but I think the GOP really needs to rebrand itself as a unifying party, not of white men, but a party that demonstrates that human diversity has been what made the United States so strong. Some of that diversity, if not most of it, did suffer racism, sexism, and abuse, but the hands of the oppressed first laid eyes on a structure with immense depth, the Statue of Liberty, that took those the world didn’t want and made them all Americans.

We are all brothers and sisters, not enemies. Today’s reality is not reality TV that just goes away or gets fired when our President feels tired or annoyed.

I will vote for Biden in 2020, but if Hogan runs in 2024, I just might vote for him as a thank you because the United States is a nation with depth, complexity, and a shitload of pain. It’s no casino, and it will never be Trump’s trophy.

It’s okay to say post-Trump and post-COVID. Hope looms just around the corner.

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