How I stopped worrying and learned to love ‘The Hog’

Maryland+Governor+Larry+%22The+Hog%22+Hogan+cuddles+a+koala+during+a+trip+to+Australia.

Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor

Maryland Governor Larry "The Hog" Hogan cuddles a koala during a trip to Australia.

By Jack McGuire

All great politicians have nicknames. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sported the name “The Milk Snatcher” thanks to her decision to remove free school milk (which has contributed to higher rates of osteoporosis in Britain today). Former President Martin Van Buren’s short stature and cunning political skills landed him the name “The Little Magician.” Americans remember former President Ronald Reagan as “The Gipper” due to a role he once played in a movie. 

However, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan does not have a nickname. To most people, Hogan may not merit a moniker, but he has, in my opinion, an extraordinary track record: he’s a taekwondo master, he has beaten cancer twice and he’s the chair of the National Governors Association. Thus, my far-from-ordinary friends and I decided to correct this injustice, and we bestowed Larry Hogan with a formidable nickname that acknowledges his feisty political attitude: “The Hog.”

My feelings toward “The Hog” were not always this positive. Four years ago, a younger, more naive version of myself loathed Hogan. In 2016, he issued an executive order that mandated all Maryland schools start after Labor Day. The goal of the order was obvious: to increase tourism for Maryland’s beaches. However, the directive reduced calendar flexibility for counties and, to my dismay, reduced the number of professional days, “built-in snow days” and spring break days in MCPS’s calendar. 

Hogan’s policy made me furious. How could my governor be so callous? How could he not realize that countless Maryland children wanted intermittent breaks from school to relax rather than a longer summer?

As I progressed through high school, I managed to get by with a shorter spring break and fewer days off throughout the year, but still, I was not a fan of Hogan. Not until the 2018 midterm elections — Hogan’s re-election year — did my feelings start to change. His opponent, Ben Jealous, ran a hobbled campaign and helped instill the notion that Hogan was a bipartisan centrist who got stuff done. I was starting to warm up to Hogan, but I still worried he would implement policies that would interfere with my daily life.

Fortunately, since his re-election, Hogan has done little to justify those worries. In fact, for the most part, I’ve supported the things he has done. Hogan has created 120,000 new jobs during his tenure as governor, invested $32 billion into the state’s education system and made significant efforts to curb corporations’ pollution of the Chesapeake Bay. Even Hogan’s mandate to require all Maryland schools to start after Labor Day has had a minimal effect on me; Maryland legislators overrode Hogan’s mandate in 2019. 

However, my true appreciation for Hogan began thanks to his handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Just like acclaimed actor Peter Sellers when he played multiple parts in the film “Dr. Strangelove,” Hogan has taken on countless roles to lead Maryland through the pandemic. Hogan the leader shut down schools and issued a stay-at-home order within days of Maryland’s first case of COVID-19. Hogan the negotiator — with help from Yumi Hogan, his wife of South Korean descent — obtained 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits from South Korea. Finally, Hogan the father figure has held countless press conferences, during which he has reassured the public and eased their fears surrounding the virus. To steal a line from Black & White Advisor Ryan Derenberger, we will never know how many lives Hogan’s measures saved. 

The path to normalcy in Maryland will be hard, and a spike in COVID-19 cases is more than likely. Experts fear that large crowds created by recent protests over the death of George Floyd could lead to such a spike; some even think a second wave of the virus will happen regardless. Whatever happens in the future, though, Maryland is safe in the hands of “The Hog.”