Friday, November 6, 2020

The State of Leadership

This is not a particularly easy time to be writing a local community blog, while we are all riveted by an all-consuming national story. Of course there are local stories out there; it’s just harder to see them. My attention is on continuing updates from other states. The One Big Thing is naturally on our minds. It’s just human nature.

Closer to home: Governor Hogan is getting a lot of press for saying “Wear the damn mask,” but not so much for his reluctance to take any substantive action when it’s clear that COVID cases are trending upwards. He’s going to wait until the horse is out of the barn and well down the road and then he’ll lecture Marylanders that it’s our fault, that “we didn’t wear the damn mask.” The truth is that there are things that the Governor has in his power to do that would strengthen the state’s approach to the pandemic but he doesn’t want to do them. 

It takes courage and persistence to lead when the pushback from angry detractors is almost a certainty. The Governor wants to be perceived as a leader, but, time and again, he has waffled when he could have used his position for a greater good. His inability to stand against the destructive words and policies of Donald Trump comes to mind. As a politician he is keen to read what direction the wind is blowing and ride those currents in a way that shows him to his best advantage. His recent book is practically a case study in that kind of posturing and positioning,

Frankly, I don’t think he is doing that particularly well, either. His much-publicized vote for Ronald Reagan seems to have impressed no one on either side of the political spectrum.  And his eleventh-hour statements about the election are just that: a show of decisiveness so late in the day as to be little more than a stunt. 

Controlling COVID is more than ‘wearing the damn mask’ and showing leadership is more than making firm statements while choosing the path of least resistance. In both cases walking the walk is far more difficult than talking the talk. You will make people angry. You will have to work with difficult people and you will need to work harder, think harder, and collaborate. 

None of that seems to fit with Hogan’s leadership style. Sometimes he appears to be on the verge of doing the right thing, but he just can’t see it through. 

You never know, though. I see signs nationally that some heretofore paralyzed politicians are beginning to show a bit of backbone. One can only hope it’s a growing trend.

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