Wednesday evening, the Maryland Democratic Party sent out an email blast — identified as being from “Ben Jealous Press” — with the subject line: “FYI: Hidin' Hogan Afraid To Debate and Defend His Record.” And then, in case you missed that one, it followed up Thursday morning with another message, announcing a press conference with state Democrats and immigration activists to “call on Hidin’ Hogan to Find Courage to Defend His Record.”
Their complaints are legitimate. The Republican governor is looking to limit the number of gubernatorial debates and control their timeline pre-election (as any incumbent would), and supporters of his Democratic challenger, Mr. Jealous, reasonably object.
But c’mon now — this is the big Democratic strategy? To try to paint Mr. Hogan as being Trump-like by acting like Donald Trump?
“Hidin’ Hogan” — what is that? With an apostrophe, no less. All that does is call to mind Trumpian name calling like Lyin’ Ted, Cryin’ Chuck, Little Marco and Crooked Hillary. If this is the best the Maryland Democratic Party has to offer, they deserve a beating in November. We have a man-child as a president now, what makes them think we want to continue down the juvenile path in our state?
In March, they called Gov. Larry Hogan “Hatchet Man Hogan” (for trying to control hiring of state employees), and earlier this month they referred to a video the governor put out about his health care record as “Hogan’s Hoaxes.” While I appreciate the fondness for alliteration, this is just off-putting for many voters — especially when polls show Democrats and Republicans alike are pretty OK with the current governor. Are there no grownups who can present their policies and point out problems with others’ without the cheap shots?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a particular fan of Larry Hogan — I live in Baltimore City, and he’s made it clear he doesn’t give a rat’s behind about us in many ways. Plus, he’s too thin-skinned for my taste in leaders.
But for the most part, I don’t think much about him in my daily life, unless he’s messing with my city. And that’s not exactly a bad thing in a politician. Face it, Dems: He’s just not Donald Trump; let it go.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is Donald Trump and a constant topic. People lose sleep over that man, and they can’t stop posting about him on social media. He’s such a concern, he’s overtaken cute kid pictures as a topic in my Facebook feed, which is just wrong. Of course, he’s only a symptom of the country’s bigger problems — the ones that led to his election — but he gives thinking people a place to focus. He’s got to go in 2020 before he does any more damage (see: ally alienation, dictator emulation, alt-right elevation, etc.), along with others who think like him even sooner.
I respectfully posit that you can’t beat them by joining them, though. Still, it looks like that’s where we’re going: toward the extreme at both the national and local levels. From establishment politicians ramping up their rhetoric to appear relevant to the newcomers trying to out-socialist one another, the Democratic Party appears to have lost its identity, rallying around what it isn’t — the party of Trump — rather than what it is.
In an interview with the New York Times published this week, liberal billionaire George Soros said he didn’t want to see Democrats get more ideologically rigid and confrontational. “I don’t particularly want to be a Democrat,” he said.
At this rate, me neither.
Tricia Bishop is The Sun's deputy editorial page editor. Her column runs every other Friday. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @triciabishop.