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Maryland governor Larry Hogan is no fan of President Trump. Though he is a self-proclaimed “lifelong conservative Republican,” Hogan has made his disdain of the president known since before the 2016 presidential election. In place of voting for either controversial candidate, he wrote in his own father, Larry Hogan Sr., a former congressman best known as the first Republican congressman to publicly support the impeachment of then-president Richard Nixon.
This election cycle, unsurprisingly, Hogan has decided again not to vote for Trump; this time, however, his vote was for former Republican president Ronald Reagan, his other “hero in politics.”
In response to his decision to cast a vote for a deceased politician, Hogan stated, “I know it’s simply symbolic. It’s not going to change the outcome in my state. But I thought it was important to just cast a vote that showed the kind of person I’d like to see in office.”
There is significant subtext to this decision, of course. From a political standpoint, Hogan would face significant backlash in voting for either candidate in this election. Voting for Trump would have been a very public backtracking on his various animated and damning criticisms of the president and his administration; voting for Biden would have meant alienating the Republican party, which would be especially disadvantageous if the rumors of a Hogan 2024 presidential bid were true.
In these turbulent times, this is not some throwaway vote. While Hogan is right, and his single ballot will not change the outcome of Maryland, a notoriously liberal and gerrymandered state, this was not the place to simply “show the kind of person [he’d] like to see in office.”
Millions of people do not have the luxury to waste their vote on a publicity stunt. Millions of people in the United States have family who have been deported, died from COVID-19, suffered from the lack of health care protections or been otherwise impacted by the malicious and incompetent actions of this administration.
By so publicly wasting his own vote, Hogan separated himself from those who have been affected by the Trump administration. This action sends the message that yes, Hogan can speak out against Trump’s hatred, bigotry, administrative errors and mishandling of the pandemic, but he does not actually feel compelled to act in a way that would help remove him from office.
A Republican governor of a majority Democratic state is in a unique position to make a political statement against Trump that transcends party lines; however, Hogan chose to waste this opportunity a second time. As an elected official who’s supposed to be a model example for citizens, Hogan’s actions not only belittle the severity of this presidential election but also send the message that it’s acceptable for citizens to discard their vote on someone who has zero chance of winning.
Very few people thought Trump would win Hogan’s vote in the 2020 election after Hogan’s decision during the 2016 election, as well as his strong and damning criticisms of the administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus. But in publicly announcing that he cast his vote for Ronald Reagan, a dead man, and the Republican darling who both championed “trickle-down economics” as well as ignored a country-wide epidemic of his own, Hogan clearly illustrated his priorities.
There is no question that our 2020 presidential candidates are flawed. Most Democratic citizens are hesitant to vote for Joe Biden, and most Republicans are hesitant to vote for Donald Trump. Nonetheless, those who oppose Trump, his message and his actions, must vote for Joe Biden, regardless of their personal enthusiasm for him as a candidate, to get Trump out of office.
Larry Hogan, a self-proclaimed “conservative Republican” and governor of a famously blue state, had the opportunity to encourage Republican constituents as well as out-of-state citizens to vote according to their personal morals instead of their party affiliation.
However, in the end, by casting his presidential ballot for a dead man, Hogan wasted his vote, and in announcing so publicly, endorsed the same course of action to his over six million constituents. Millions and millions of people do not have the luxury of playing politics when the Trump administration’s actions and policies have actively endangered their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Hogan is apparently still holding on to that privilege.