Difference Between Democrats And Republicans: A Tale Of Two Bridges

Larry Hogan is playing a duplicitous game with Maryland voters. He says he’s running for the senate as an “independent Republican,” not to serve any one party, but, “to fix our nation’s broken politics.”

What, why?

If Hogan believes that acting as an “independent-minded” Republican in Congress will somehow magically fix a quarter-century of political gridlock in that city, he clearly doesn’t understand Capitol Hill.  And more than that, he clearly doesn’t understand what Marylanders want from their next senator.  We don’t need our next senator to be a magician, or a revolutionary, or a prophet.  Of course, we want change in Washington, but we are realists.  What we want most is someone to go to Washington, and make that broken system work for us—not ten years from now. Now.

Maryland needs a senator who understands how the game works and is prepared to do what is necessary to win the game for Marylanders. Picking fights with the leader of his own party hardly seems like the best way for Hogan to achieve that goal.  Furthermore, Hogan is confused if he thinks that his latest, “independent Republican,” song-and-dance will play in a city where loyalty is often more important than honesty.

Capitol Hill is not a croquet club—it’s the Mafia!

Hogan is proud to flaunt his lack of legislative experience, so he may be surprised to learn that Congress functions just like every other legislative body in America, as a spoils system, where benefits accrue to those willing to follow orders and carry water for the party. It’s a Pay-to-Play enterprise—It’s transactional.  The more you put in, the more you get out.  Literally.  And, it’s only gotten worse since Trump arrived.

Some voters are alarmed to read Trump’s threats about punishing those who oppose him if he’s reelected.  They shouldn’t be.  That’s how politics works: carrots and sticks.  It’s been this way since the days of Washington and Hamilton.

As an illustration, consider the fates of two famous bridges, each of which was the leading news story for a time: the Key Bridge in Baltimore, and the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

In early September 2013, two high-ranking Republican government officials decided to impress Governor Chris Christie by punishing the Democratic mayor of the city of Fort Lee, for refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection.  Over four steamy, late summer days, the officials closed lanes on the busy George Washington Bridge during rush hour—bringing traffic on the bridge, and the surrounding streets, to a halt.  Before being tried for what would become known as “Bridge-gate,” the two employees responsible were praised by Republican leaders for their actions.  Jared Kushner, who was working in the Trump White House at the time, was so impressed, he wrote David Wildstein, (one of those responsible), to congratulate him.

“For what it’s worth,” wrote Kushner, “I thought the move you pulled was kind of badass.”

The Bridgegate Scandal may have been an abuse of power, but it was not illegal. In fact, such tit-for-tat, petty-Mafia-political nonsense happens every day in America.  It’s happening right now, somewhere.

Fortunately for Marylanders, it works both ways.

Consider, by contrast, how swiftly, and boldly, President Biden came to the aid of Marylanders when the Francis Scott Key Bridge was damaged.  Sure, President Biden is running for reelection, and yes, Governor Moore is one of his surrogates, but that’s how it works—tit-for-tat, quid pro quo, (insert your favorite descriptor here.)

The transactional nature of American politics is precisely why we know Hogan’s strategy of referring to himself as an “independent Republican” is absurd.  If Hogan wants to be successful in the Senate, he will act just like every other successful Republican: He’ll caucus with the Republicans; support their legislative priorities; raise money for the party; stump for other conservative members; and, importantly, come to the aid of a possible President Trump if the need arises.

Hogan is trying to game Marylanders. He wants us to believe he’s an “independent Republican,” while also working behind the scenes to resurrect Ronald Reagan’s harmful legacies.  Hogan said as much during a recent interview for The Washington Post, in which he stated proudly, “I want to fix the party to get them back on track…to ‘Reaganesque’ party.”

Maryland today is the opposite of everything Reagan stood for—we are pro-choice, pro-civil rights, pro-social justice….  Hogan looks back on the Reagan years with such nostalgia, that he seems tone-deaf to the reality that the 1980s were difficult times for many people, particularly people of color, and women.

If Hogan wants to fetishize Ronald Reagan by creating a national “Reaganesque” political party in his honor, he has every right.  But he shouldn’t be allowed to do so on the backs of his fellow Marylanders.