American Opinion: Ex-Gov. Hogan rightly diagnoses the Trumpian personality cult that afflicts the GOP

From the editorial: America needs two functioning political parties, and at the moment, a large portion of one is more accurately defined as a right-wing cult of personality.

FILE PHOTO: Maryland Governor Hogan speaks at Saint Anselm College in Manchester
FILE PHOTO: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan speaks at a "Politics and Eggs" forum at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., October 6, 2022.
REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has been a beacon of anti-Trump sanity in a Republican Party that has too little of it these days. In that sense, his announcement that he won’t seek the 2024 presidential nomination, made in a New York Times op-ed Sunday, is something of a disappointment. But his reasoning is valid: Having multiple Republicans in the primary race could create “another multicar pileup,” giving former President Donald Trump a path to again capture the nomination — an outcome Hogan rightly views as unacceptable.

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American Opinion
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Hogan’s advice is worth heeding. Republicans of good faith must coalesce around one reasonable Trump alternative rather than risk fragmenting the non-MAGA vote among multiple moderates. Hogan has apparently surmised, probably correctly, that he doesn’t have the national base for it. But it’s crucial that the party find that candidate.

Hogan, who served eight years as Maryland’s governor before his term-limited tenure ended in January, has long been among the GOP’s most vocal critics of Trump. While Hogan’s essay Sunday cites family stress as a reason for deciding not to seek the presidency, he expounds extensively on the urgency of unifying the party against Trump.

“Since Donald Trump won the nomination in 2016, I have fought to make clear that our party cannot be successful if we put personality before principle, if our elected officials are afraid to say publicly what they freely admit behind closed doors,” he writes, “and if we can’t learn from our mistakes because of the political cost of admitting facts to be true.” That should stand as an indictment of the party’s distressing continued embrace of Trump in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, along with that of Trumpian media propagandists like Fox News.

Hogan bemoans that the GOP “didn’t even bother passing a campaign platform” in 2020 — and how could it, really, when long-held Republican principles of respect for the law, personal responsibility and morality had been rendered so clearly hypocritical by the party’s standard-bearer?


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“I still believe in a Republican Party that stands for fiscal responsibility and getting the government off our backs. ... I still believe in a Republican Party that backs law enforcement and the rule of law. … And I still believe in a Republican Party that upholds and honors perhaps our most sacred tradition: the peaceful transfer of power,” Hogan writes.

All of which is bluntly, often angrily rejected today by the Trump wing of the Republican Party.

America needs two functioning political parties, and at the moment, a large portion of one is more accurately defined as a right-wing cult of personality. No one in the current field of GOP hopefuls looks to be both interested in and capable of changing that. It’s urgent for the sake of both the party and the country that some Hogan-like hero arise.

This American Opinion editorial is the view of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board. Send feedback to:

©2023 Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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