If you only listened to Donald Trump, you would think all Republicans have stuck their heads in the sand about the COVID-19 crisis. That all Republicans believe there is little value in social distancing, that all Republicans oppose vote-by-mail, that all Republicans want to “open up” the country before the end of April.
To be sure, many far-right Republicans are doing just that. Republicans in Wisconsin, in a blatant act that sought to undermine democracy and expose hundreds of thousands of people to illness, refused to change the state’s election day for primaries and local elections. Republicans in Kansas overrode the Democratic governor’s orders to only allow limited church services and allowed large gatherings, even though three hot spots in the state had been traced back to people attending religious gatherings.
Meanwhile, it’s easy to applaud the actions of Democratic governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo, Washington’s Jay Innslee, California’s Gavin Newsom or Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer. They have been some of the most outspoken and active governors in the United States in the fight against COVID-19.
There have also been, however, several Republican governors who have also been outspoken and consistently on the ball as well, despite efforts by officials in the Trump administration to get them to “back off and quiet down.” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and most of all Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan have, sometimes quietly and sometimes quite noisily, made the point that the coronavirus pandemic is a very serious one and that the federal government has not done enough to help the states.
Other Republican governors like Nebraska’s Pete Ricketts and New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu have supported vote-by-mail (despite Trump’ attempts to undermine it) to deal with their state’s primary or with the possibility of voting that way in November to protect the inhabitants of their states.
Maryland ‘s Larry Hogan in particular has drawn Trump’s ire. Trump is desperately trying to make people forget how badly he handled the initial stages of the battle against COVID-19 and only focus on what he says about how he’s dealing with it now. Trump is very thin-skinned when anybody points out that he’s underperforming or his past mistakes, even if they do it politely.
To Trump, Hogan (the current head of the National Governors’ Association) is a RINO (Republican in Name Only) because he dares to say out loud and regularly that the federal government is not doing a very good job responding to COVID-19. If you don’t support Trump’s views of the virus or his attempts to rewrite his previous lies and misstatements (in the spirit of “Trump uber alles”), then you can’t be a REAL Republican.
To his credit, this has not deterred Hogan. Perhaps he wears Trump’s scorn as a badge of honor. Or perhaps he knows that Trump blames everyone but himself for his numerous failures, so he’s merely the latest in a long line of Trump’s COVID-19 scapegoats.
As Trump continues to lie, blame others for mistakes and promulgate bad information about the coronavirus, and his poll numbers continue to fall and his reelection in November becomes increasingly doubtful, don’t be surprised if you see more Republican governors stray from Trump’s gang of sycophants and minions.