The Republican Party establishment is biding its time waiting for the moment to reach in and co-opt President Donald Trump's "America First" movement. They are embedded within the Trump movement, others are outside of it, some have even defected to the Democrats, but they are all ready to reform like the scattered parts of Voltron as soon as it serves their ends. They just need the right figurehead to be able to pull this off.
Now that John McCain has passed, the establishment must find a new savior to usher Trump's fervent supporters back to the reservation. Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio won't cut it, one is reviled and the other is widely considered a joke. Some former establishment faves — like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — have partly embraced Trumpism and caught considerable flak for it. This is where Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan comes in.
To his credit, Hogan is quite different than the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., perhaps less intense. Hogan also does not come across as distant and not having ties to the common man, like Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. Hogan may be viewed as being more personable, as opposed to let’s say a Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., or former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. The governor, for his part, does tend to come across as a man of the people; he has working class ties, and is generally an affable guy. This has allowed him to become a very popular Republican governor with bipartisan support in a solidly blue state.
While Hogan may have a personal demeanor that is laudable, his positives end there for conservatives. Hogan's moderate brand of Republicanism cannot be differentiated from a Democrat in many crucial aspects. His style of governance embodies the direction that the GOP was headed down before the sudden election of President Donald Trump severely derailed the plan.
Hogan's environmental policies is an embrace of job-killing directives of the Obama administration. He imposed Draconian mandates to reduce carbon emissions as President Trump removed the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords, a move that Hogan vehemently opposed. Hogan has also signed legislation banning hydraulic fracturing, despite the fact that it has reduced overall carbon emissions nationwide, just to appease the far left.
Hogan has staunchly opposed President Trump's executive order to rescind DACA and called for Congress to implement amnesty for illegal aliens. Hogan also capitalized on the fake news stories about President Trump separating families at the border to perform some grandstanding. He recalled Maryland National Guardsmen from the U.S.-Mexico border during a national crisis so he could score points with the fake news media at the expense of national security.
On social issues, Hogan helped blaze the trail for transgenderism. He expanded an executive order in 2015 to give civil rights protections to transgender persons. He also refused to veto legislation in 2017 that provided funding guarantees for Planned Parenthood in case the Trump administration defunded the infamous fetal chop shop.
Hogan was initially elected with an endorsement from the National Rifle Association, but he would immediately turn his back on gun owners once elected. He signed sweeping new gun control measures into law in 2018, which included "red flag" laws eviscerating due process and serving as de facto gun confiscation. He also publicly rejected all support for his re-election efforts from the NRA, who immediately downgraded his rating in lieu of his betrayal.
Hogan's record paints the picture of a habitual capitulator scared to stand up to Democrats. It could be argued that Hogan's weak brand of moderate Republicanism is a necessary evil in traditionally blue states like Maryland, because of his support for Koch-approved tax cuts and a handful of nominally conservative policies. If Hogan were content with staying in Maryland, he would not be much of a problem. However, Hogan has his sights set on the White House, and he is taking aim at President Trump to boost his presidential profile.
Hogan supported the Democrat-led impeachment witch hunt against President Trump, and was talking with Democrat-funded Never Trumpers like Bill Kristol about primary challenging Trump in 2020. After the impeachment crusade fizzled out and primarying Trump was no longer viable, Hogan gave up his hopes on unseating the man. He instead went to the press and launched dishonest attacks against the president regarding his coronavirus response.
Hogan wrote a disingenuous op/ed in The Washington Post blaming President Trump for the problems with his state's coronavirus plan. He threw all of the usual tropes at Trump, blaming him for not listening to public health "experts" who got everything wrong. He also bashed Trump for not being alarmist enough throughout the pandemic, claiming that he was on his own, and crediting his own leadership for all of Maryland's successes in combating the pandemic.
"Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation's response was hopeless," Hogan wrote. "If we delayed any longer, we'd be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death."
Back in reality, Hogan is begging President Trump and the federal government for another bailout because Hogan's pandemic alarmism has damaged the state economy tremendously. He has also benefited personally from other bailout funds given to the state meant for the poor and needy.
Hogan Companies, a real estate firm in Annapolis founded by Hogan, received a special loan between $150,000 and $350,000 from the coronavirus relief fund. Hogan's younger brother, Timothy, now runs the family business.
Before Hogan realized there might be something to gain in criticizing President Trump's pandemic response, he effusively praised Trump for his great communication in the initial stages of the crisis.
"I want to compliment the president and the vice president for really great communication with the governors," Hogan said during a Fox News appearance in March.
Hogan's own words belie the premise of his disingenuous op/ed. When Hogan claims he was seething with frustration due to the President's inaction, he was actually praising Trump for coordinating a pandemic response between various governors. Hogan is taking on Trump due to shameless opportunism, hoping he can be the GOP savior in 2024 after a Trump electoral defeat. He will then work to marshal the Republican Party back to its 2008-2012 existence, when they were proud to be the Washington Generals to the Democrats' Harlem Globetrotters if it meant the special interests' bottomline was protected.
Regardless of the result of the elections in November, Hogan and other pretenders to the throne must be soundly rejected in the new Republican Party. The future of the GOP is populism, nationalism, bold leadership and opposing the political establishment. This is now at the heart of the conservative movement, thanks to the rise of Trump. The bland, milquetoast, triangulating approach of Hogan — with his focus groups and carefully massaged language — has no home within this party during a time of total war.
Gavin Wax is president of the New York Young Republican Club, chair of the Association of Young Republican Clubs, an associate fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, a frequent guest on Fox News, and publisher of The Schpiel. You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax. Read Gavin Wax's Reports — More Here.
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