Monday, October 26, 2020

The Road Not Taken

Early voting starts today in Maryland. In Howard County there were already lines before the polls opened. I voted by mail, delivering my ballot to the drop box at the Board of Elections. Whatever your plan is, please vote.

I’d like to suggest that, no matter how you do it, you take one important thing into account when you fill out your ballot: don’t vote for dead people.

The governor of the State of Maryland made the news recently by announcing to the world that he had written in the name of the late Republican president Ronald Reagan when he voted. This immediately raised two questions:

1. Why would anyone do this?

2. Why would he tell on himself?

Choosing a write-in candidate (especially a dead one)  in this election is the choice of someone who believes he has enough privilege that he will be fine either way. There are a whole lot of us out here in Maryland and beyond who don’t have that kind of privilege, and we are not impressed by such a stunt.

It occurs to me that Governor Hogan’s choice is consistent with the way he has governed all along. I’ll call it the Look Backwards choice. For example, his choice for a school calendar was to try to make everyone do it “the way it used to be.” His response to transit needs has consistently been to add more highway lanes. His reaction to transformative legislation to address the opportunity gap in Maryland Schools was the old Republican trope: vilify the teachers’ unions. His response to police brutality in Baltimore? Send more police. Probably the most Look Backward action the Governor has taken was to look at solutions to pollution and climate change and resort to playground level name-calling instead. 

You remember the “Rain Tax”, right?

I don’t know what Mr. Hogan plans to do with his life once he is out of office. I do know that, as Governor, he has made his mark by Looking Backwards. His vote for President is a cherry on top of all that has come before. When you are a public servant, you are presented with choices and you must do your best with what you have. Instead, Hogan frequently ignores what he has and just Looks Backwards.

I’m imagining the Governor as the protagonist in that well-known Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken”. Somehow it’s not the same.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—went backwards. And that has made all the difference.

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