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“Better Path Forward:” Governor Hogan Delivers Address From Reagan Library

Governor Hogan delivered an address at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute on the critical questions facing the future of the Republican Party.

Watch Governor Hogan’s address here.

Following are excerpts from the address:

ON PRESIDENT BIDEN: “In Washington, the Democratic party is dragging us in a far-left direction that America does not want and can not afford. Joe Biden said he would govern from the center and unite the country, but instead he caters to the far-left extremes of his party and flails from crisis to crisis, showing weakness to the world.”

ON WINNING IN DEEP-BLUE MARYLAND: “In a state that Donald Trump lost by 33 points, we out-ran him by 45 points. We completely debunked the false narrative that the way you vote is pre-determined by the color of your skin, where you live, where you were born, who you love, or where you worship.”

ON TOXIC POLITICS: “Most Americans are thoroughly convinced that we are hopelessly divided, that our political system is fundamentally broken and that Washington is completely dysfunctional. When so many Americans feel that neither party is delivering for them, the result is unrestrained toxic politics, rabid tribalism, and hatred of the other.”

ON GOP COURSE CORRECTION: “A party that lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections, and that couldn’t even beat Joe Biden, is desperately in need of a course correction…The last four years were the worst years for the Republican party since the 1930s. We lost the White House, the Senate, the House. We lost governors and state legislative bodies. Trump said we would be winning so much we’d get tired of winning. I’m tired of our party losing.”

ON THE EXTREMES: “Reagan had a hopeful confidence in America. He trusted in the decency and common sense of Americans. Today, there are people in both parties who no longer share Reagan’s confidence and his unshakeable faith in the American people, and they doubt whether we can – or should – still lead the free world.

Reagan was the great communicator who believed in the power of persuasion. Today’s politicians simply find scapegoats to blame for their own failures.

Reagan stood up for our allies and stood up to our enemies. He didn’t abandon our allies and appease our enemies.

Today, all the vitriol from the far-left and the far-right obscures the larger truth that the extremes of both parties have more in common than they would care to admit. They both believe that politicians know better than the people, at least when their side is in charge.

Both undermine our democratic processes when they don’t serve their own interests. Both care more about controlling a party than they do about governing or actually solving the serious problems that face us. Both parties demonize, cancel, and question the patriotism of the other side, instead of engaging in open, honest, and civil debate.

Both blame their fellow Americans first and make excuses for our enemies.

Both dismiss American exceptionalism and reject Reagan’s shining city on a hill. They have lost faith, not just in Americans, but in the very idea of America. They are wrong about Reagan, and they’re wrong about America.”

ON LASTING GOVERNING COALITION: “While there are those who are more interested in attacking their fellow Republicans than growing and rebuilding the Republican party, my focus has been and will continue to be, on growing that bigger tent and on building a lasting governing coalition to Change America for the Better. Just like Ronald Reagan did.

The divide in our party today really isn’t ideological. It’s more of a difference between those who know how to win, and those who only pretend that they won. Enough of the angry rhetoric and the grievance politics. Enough of the narcissism of small differences. We can’t build a successful party by tearing it apart, or burning it down, and we can’t restore America if we keep shrinking the tent and losing elections to the left.”

ON THE FUTURE OF GOP: “Republicans will likely make big gains this year, simply because of the complete failures of the Democrats in Washington, but we can’t let that fool us into complacency. The problems that have caused our party to repeatedly lose have not been addressed. It’s easy to make excuses for the failures on our side by simply pointing out that the other side is often worse.

But better than the Democrats isn’t good enough. That is not a winning strategy or a long-term roadmap to success. Americans are completely disgusted with the toxic politics, and they’re sick and tired of all the lies and excuses. Excuses, lies, and toxic politics will not win elections or restore America. Only real leadership will do that.

We won’t win back the White House by nominating Donald Trump or a cheap impersonation of him. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And we don’t need just another typical professional politician who bends with every political wind and stands for nothing.”

Full text below:

Thank you Roger for that very kind introduction.

I want to thank the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute for giving me this opportunity and thank you all for being here tonight.

It truly is a great privilege to be here at this incredible library named for the president whom I most admire.

The two leaders who inspired me to become a Republican were Ronald Reagan and my Dad. My father served on the House Judiciary committee during Watergate.

He was the first Republican to come out for the impeachment of President Nixon.

He put doing the right thing for his country ahead of self-interest and the demands of his party. That decision cost him politically, but it earned him something more valuable: a quiet conscience and an honored place in history.

I learned a lot about integrity and public service from my Dad. He taught me that being a Republican meant always putting America first and he also, albeit accidentally, introduced me to my other political hero Ronald Reagan.

I went to the 1976 GOP convention in Kansas City with my Dad, Governor Reagan was challenging President Ford for the Republican nomination. My dad was a friend of Gerry Ford’s and a chair of his campaign.

I admired President Ford, but I was captivated by the appeal of Ronald Reagan, who expressed common-sense conservative values and a positive, hopeful vision for America that appealed – not just to base Republican voters, but also, to Independents and voters in the other party, who would come to be known as Reagan Democrats.

Family considerations notwithstanding, I was for the Gipper 100%. Some kids rebelled by getting into trouble or partying at Woodstock.

I rebelled by campaigning for Ronald Reagan.

From that moment on, I became a lifelong, committed, common sense conservative from the Reagan wing of the Republican Party.

And I still am.

Ronald Reagan won two landslide elections and created a movement that endured for a generation because he understood the simple truth that successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.

It’s one thing to win an election but quite another to build a broad and durable governing coalition. For Reagan, a big tent party wasn’t just an electoral imperative.

It was also a moral one.

He knew that if our party wanted to govern, we couldn’t ignore any part of America. In the 1970s, after the debacle of Watergate, the tragedy of Vietnam and the failed leadership of Jimmy Carter, the Republican party and America were in dire straits.

Americans were unsure of the future and losing faith in our country, but Ronald Reagan showed us a better path forward and he changed the course of history for America and the world.

He proved that change is possible, even when the odds seem stacked against you.

In 2014, Maryland looked a lot like Washington did back in 1980 and what it looks like today: an arrogant and out-of-touch Democratic monopoly.

They were calling Maryland the California of the East, and they didn’t mean that as a compliment.

No offense.

Maryland had raised taxes 43 times in a row. We’d lost 8,000 businesses and 100,000 jobs and a Gallup poll showed that nearly half of all Marylanders wanted to leave the state.

I was a small businessman who had never held elective office, but I was fed up enough to step up and try to do something about it.

Not a soul believed that it was remotely possible for a Republican to win in the bluest state in America, but I ran an under-funded – underdog – grassroots campaign that focused on the issues that most people cared about, and we were able to build a big tent coalition of Republicans, Independents, and Reagan Democrats.

I promised to get the government off our backs and out of our pockets, so we could grow our small businesses, put people back to work, and turn our economy around.

We pulled off the biggest surprise upset in America. And then we did something that rarely ever happens in politics, we actually did exactly what we said we would do.

We changed the entire mission of state government to be unabashedly pro-jobs, and pro-business.

We eliminated or rewrote thousands of job-killing regulations.

I’m the only governor in America who got an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature to cut taxes, and we did it 8 years in a row by $4.7 billion dollars.

We turned a $5.1 billion dollar deficit into the largest surplus in state history.

We took our state’s overall economic performance from 49th out of 50 states to number 6, the biggest economic turnaround in America.

When politicians pandered to the far-left, dangerous lunacy of “Defund the police.”

I was the first elected leader in the country to speak out loudly against it.

Saying you want to improve public safety by defunding police is like saying you want to improve education by defunding our schools.

It’s absurd and ridiculous.

The reality is our police are underfunded and under attack. To reverse the rising tide of violent crime, we need to stop demonizing and sabotaging the dedicated men and women who risk their lives every single day to keep the rest of us safe, which is why I enacted a Re-Fund the Police initiative that invested half a billion dollars more into state and local police.

Now others all across America are following our lead.

In 2015, I had only been governor for 89 days when the worst violence in 47 years erupted in our largest city of Baltimore.

The Mayor said she wanted to give the rioters “room to destroy.”

I immediately declared a state of emergency and sent 1,000 additional police officers and 4,000 members of the national guard into the city.

We followed the Reagan Doctrine of peace through strength. We allowed for peaceful protests, but we immediately stopped the violence. And I walked the streets of Baltimore, meeting with faith leaders, community leaders, and the NAACP.

The people of Baltimore thanked me for restoring peace and law and order to their community. They knew that we had their backs and that I would never put politics before public safety.

In the summer of 2020, when cities all across America were facing unrest, Baltimore was peaceful. And city residents worked with us to keep Baltimore safe.

We didn’t get any of this done by resorting to the phony partisan posturing that is so typical in this age of performative politics. In my first inaugural address, in 2015, I pledged that ‘the politics that have divided our nation – need not divide our state,’ and they haven’t.

We have sought out and achieved bipartisan commonsense solutions that worked for all the people of our state.

It turns out that’s exactly what most voters want. While most Americans think the nation is way off track, the overwhelming majority of Marylanders believe our state is headed in the right direction.

More than 70 percent of every single demographic group regardless of age, race, gender, or party affiliation, approve of the job we’re doing. In 2018, while Republicans were getting wiped out all across the country, in our deep blue state in a big blue year, I became only the second Republican governor to be re-elected in the entire 242 year history of our state.

In a state that Donald Trump lost by 33 points, we out-ran him by 45 points. We completely debunked the false narrative that the way you vote is pre-determined by the color of your skin, where you live, where you were born, who you love, or where you worship.

We did just as well with Republicans and conservatives as Donald Trump did, but we also won suburban women, Asians, Hispanics, young voters, and historic levels of the black vote.

We succeeded by growing the tent and by convincing voters we had the right ideas and the competence to get things done.

In November of 2020, just days after the presidential election and before this terrific series was created, I had the honor of speaking at the Reagan Foundation and Institute in Washington.

I said then that the Republican party and America were once again at a time for choosing and that if we wanted to find a better path forward, we should look back to the example set by Ronald Reagan.

I believe that even more today.

I have never been more concerned about the direction of our country.

America is at a critical turning point, one in which the very fate of our Democracy could be at stake.

In Washington, the Democratic party is dragging us in a far-left direction that America does not want and can not afford.

Joe Biden said he would govern from the center and unite the country, but instead he caters to the far-left extremes of his party and flails from crisis to crisis, showing weakness to the world.

Just like in 1980, America is beset by out-of-control inflation an energy crisis is hurting struggling families and small businesses and violent crime is devastating our cities and communities.

Instead of offering Americans relief, the Biden administration tries to jam through a reckless grab bag of progressive wish list items, massive spending and tax hikes, and handouts to special interests.

Instead of developing our nation’s abundant energy supply and increasing domestic production, the Biden administration goes hat in hand begging a dictator in Venezuela for oil.

Around the world, America’s enemies are emboldened and on the march. Russia invades a peaceful neighbor and threatens the United States and our NATO allies for supporting the freedom of the brave people of Ukraine.

China steals our nation’s intellectual property and makes common cause with our enemies across the world.

Iran and North Korea threaten the peace, stability, and security of the world as emerging nuclear powers, reckless aggressors, and enemies of freedom.

After the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, our allies question whether they should still trust us and our enemies question whether they should still fear us.

The majority of Americans today believe that our country is way off track and heading in the wrong direction.

But Americans don’t just blame the Democratic party.

They’re fed up with the divisive politics and the extremes of both parties.

Most Americans are thoroughly convinced that we are hopelessly divided, that our political system is fundamentally broken and that Washington is completely dysfunctional.

The voices of the exhausted majority are ignored in deference to the demands of the loudest and angriest few who seem hell-bent on tearing America apart.

When so many Americans feel that neither party is delivering for them, the result is unrestrained toxic politics, rabid tribalism, and hatred of the other.

Neither side really seems to want to make progress.

They’d rather make demands and win arguments on Twitter.

Look, I’m willing to stand up and fight for the things that really matter, but not for status-quo politics-as-usual and not to perpetuate polarization and paralysis.

America needs workhorses, not more show ponies.

It’s time for less talk and more action.

I don’t come from the performative art school of politics.

I come from the get-to-work and get-things done school of politics, and I’ll work with anyone who wants to do the people’s business.

Ronald Reagan said that “there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

He proved with Tip O’Neill that a willingness to cooperate and compromise doesn’t have to come at the cost of our principles.

Look, I’ve always been a guy who tells it like it is, so let me just give it to you straight.

A party that lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections, and that couldn’t even beat Joe Biden, is desperately in need of a course correction.

The truth is the last election was not rigged and it wasn’t stolen.

We simply didn’t offer the majority of voters what they were looking for.

January 6th was not enthusiastic tourists misbehaving.

It was an outrageous attack on our Democracy, incited by the losing candidate’s inflammatory false rhetoric.

The last four years were the worst four years for the Republican party since the 1930s, even worse than after Watergate when Ronald Reagan had to rebuild the party from the ashes.

We lost the White House, the Senate, the House. We lost governors, and state legislative bodies.

Trump said we would be winning so much we’d get tired of winning.

Well, I’m tired of our party losing.

As Reagan understood, successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division, and we have been doing far too much subtracting and dividing.

Ronald Reagan was not afraid to stand up and criticize the failures of our party.

He said “don’t be afraid to see what we see.”

Reagan knew that a major course correction was essential if we were to get back to winning elections and governing again.

We already know what must be done to return the Republican party to a successful governing majority.

We need to take on the powerful and entrenched Democratic monopoly and win.

We need to stand against the extremes and for the majority of Americans.

We need a hopeful positive vision for America, and a message that appeals to a broader group of voters.

We need to convince voters that we have the best ideas and solutions.

Over the past eight years, just down the road from our nation’s capital, we have already shown a better path forward. And if we can do that in Maryland, then there is no place in America where those very same principles will not succeed.

The reason Ronald Reagan’s landslide victories are a distant memory is not because his principles lost their widespread appeal.

It’s because our party has turned its back on them.

Reagan had a hopeful confidence in America. He trusted in the decency and common sense of Americans.

Today, there are people in both parties who no longer share Reagan’s confidence and his unshakeable faith in the American people, and they doubt whether we can – or should – still lead the free world.

Reagan was the great communicator who believed in the power of persuasion.

Today’s politicians simply find scapegoats to blame for their own failures.

Reagan stood up for our allies and stood up to our enemies.

He didn’t abandon our allies and appease our enemies.

Today, all the vitriol from the far-left and the far-right obscures the larger truth that the extremes of both parties have more in common than they would care to admit.

They both believe that politicians know better than the people, at least when their side is in charge.

Both undermine our democratic processes when they don’t serve their own interests.

Both care more about controlling a party than they do about governing or actually solving the serious problems that face us.

Both parties demonize, cancel, and question the patriotism of the other side, instead of engaging in open, honest, and civil debate.

Both blame their fellow Americans first and make excuses for our enemies.

Both dismiss American exceptionalism and reject Reagan’s shining city on a hill.

They have lost faith, not just in Americans, but in the very idea of America.

They are wrong about Reagan, and they’re wrong about America.

Despite our imperfections and all of the serious challenges we face, America remains the greatest nation on earth.

People from all across the world still yearn to come here – to become Americans.

The rest of the world still looks to us for leadership and inspiration.

Just ask yourself, even on our darkest days, where on earth would you rather live than the United States of America?

Americans are not tired of freedom and democracy.

They’re tired of failed leadership.

They haven’t given up on the values that make our nation great.

They’re just fed up with politicians who put their self-interest before America.

Those of us blessed by your trust should give you a government that doesn’t act as if it’s something apart from you, but one that is of the people, by the people, and for the people.

A government that appreciates that no one of us has all the answers or all the power.

A government that tolerates contrary views among a diverse citizenry without making them into enemies or doubting their patriotism.

A government that can discuss and debate with as much civility as passion and with a view to persuade – not intimidate, to encourage – not demonize or defeat.

A government that can take on the big problems and make things better for all our citizens.

A government that all of America can be proud of.

In 2022 and 2024, Republicans have an historic opportunity to put America back on the right course.

While there are those who are more interested in attacking their fellow Republicans than growing and rebuilding the Republican party, my focus has been and will continue to be, on growing that bigger tent and on building a lasting governing coalition to Change America for the Better.

Just like Ronald Reagan did.

The divide in our party today really isn’t ideological.

It’s more of a difference between those who know how to win, and those who only pretend that they won.

Enough of the angry rhetoric and the grievance politics.

Enough of the narcissism of small differences.

We can’t build a successful party by tearing it apart, or burning it down, and we can’t restore America if we keep shrinking the tent and losing elections to the left.

Republicans will likely make big gains this year, simply because of the complete failures of the Democrats in Washington, but we can’t let that fool us into complacency.

The problems that have caused our party to repeatedly lose have not been addressed.

It’s easy to make excuses for the failures on our side by simply pointing out that the other side is often worse.

But better than the Democrats isn’t good enough.

That is not a winning strategy or a long-term roadmap to success.

Americans are completely disgusted with the toxic politics, and they’re sick and tired of all the lies and excuses.

Excuses, lies, and toxic politics will not win elections or restore America.

Only real leadership will do that.

We won’t win back the White House by nominating Donald Trump or a cheap impersonation of him.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

And we don’t need just another typical professional politician who bends with every political wind and stands for nothing.

We do it by nominating a candidate who speaks to the majority of Americans, who are completely fed up and ready for a change.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you this.

I am not about to give up on our party or on America.

None of us can.

Because this is not just about the differences between the right and the left.

This is about the difference between right and wrong.

And this isn’t just the typical fight between Democrats and Republicans.

It’s more important than that.

This is a fight for America’s future, and that is a fight worth fighting.

The best days of America are still ahead of us.

Together, we can change our party and our nation for the better, so that America can once again be that shining city on a hill.

There is a better path forward if only we have the courage to seize it.

Thank you.

God bless you.

And may God bless the United States of America.