Montgomery County Executive Marc B. Elrich (D) stepped to a podium on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in the Gaithersburg, Maryland Kentlands neighborhood.
He removed his cloth mask and began to speak.
Elrich, 70, was set to announce Montgomery County’s Covid-19 Phase One plans to reopen – that is, approved retail stores, restaurants, shops, outdoor day camps, car washes, barbershops, businesses and more will begin to reopen on June 1.
Then the boos and jeers began.
Mr. Elrich was greeted by a readymade toxic cabal of liberty truth-tellers – an unimpressively diverse group of mostly white and decidedly angry loudmouthed vulgarians – ready and willing to stand up and defend their God-given liberties in the face of the government-induced coronavirus shutdown.
Amid the noisemakers, one man yelped about Elrich being a “dictator.” Another woman called him a “fascist.”
(Ask the two loyal liberty foot soldiers to spell their limited vocabulary of epithets and word grenades, and, well, you might be there longer than you had hoped.)
In the most impressive act of courage, many of those fine American patriots who surrounded Elrich snubbed the Crown in a brave act of public defiance.
They refrained from wearing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended facial masks.
Patriots, every last one of them.
Such a show of conviction; they sure owned those libs today – those wonderful Laura Ingraham fan clubbers!
One protestor called Elrich a “Nazi.”
Yeah, the former elementary school teacher-turned-politician is the equivalent of a Nazi, according to the protestor, because, God forbid, they cannot walk inside a McDonald’s Cafe and pick up their supersized french fries.
Characterizing Elrich, who is Jewish, as a Nazi, well, the irony must be lost on them.
Other protestors yelled “Trump 2020!” That will teach them libs!
Another protestor managed to squawk “Go to hell.” By the look on Elrich’s face, the feeling was palpably mutual.
The charade continued.
The protestors even shouted over and repeatedly interrupted Montgomery County’s public health officer, Dr. Travis Gayles, who attempted to explain, with reserved graciousness, how the reopening plan would work.
Many Americans get it: It’s not fair. It’s not fair that you have to wear a mask. It’s not fair that you have to social distance. It’s not fair that you cannot see your extended families.
And the loss of income – the loss of a job, even worse – at the behest of the government, whose sole responsibility is to protect its citizens, is absolutely, unequivocally unfair.
It’s not fair to the nurse who worked a 14-hour shift who is asked to stay at the hospital just a little longer. It’s not fair to the home health worker who hasn’t seen her kids in days because she did her duty and showed up to the nursing community and cared for the aging seniors.
It’s not fair to the family forced to say their goodbyes to their 87-year-old mother while the nurse holds an iPhone over their ailing mother’s bed – their mother, who beat cancer once but just couldn’t fight Covid-19.
All of this is unfair. All of it.
Jesus, none of this is fair. We are all feeling and experiencing this global pandemic in the most unimaginable ways.
The entire world is attempting to navigate just what the hell is happening.
Governments are working to responsibly protect its citizens without trampling civil and fundamental liberties, and our hospital front-line workers are trying to keep it together.
There is no right or wrong answer. There is no right or wrong feeling. Nearly none of our life experiences could have fully prepared us for the mixture of emotions we’re grappling with on the daily.
Some world leaders have managed their responses exponentially better than others, and some of our politicians have epically and devastatingly failed their fellow countrymen and women.
But Covid-19 is not Marc Elrich’s fault.
It’s his job, though, to navigate Maryland’s most populous county through the collective hell. The same with Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Both men have markedly different styles and both men have done what they thought is best, putting politics aside.
If you know anything about Montgomery County – or Marc Elrich, for that matter – you would know that the county executive has fought against racists and bigots for most of his life. He has stood up for equality, economic fairness, better schools, better healthcare, and a better America. His politics are what they are. He doesn’t apologize for them.
Marc Elrich is not a perfect politician, nor is he a perfect leader.
Elrich’s style is what it is – like it, love it, or loathe it. A Miner Detail falls somewhere in between – and you can bet that this media outlet will continue to hold Mr. Elrich accountable.
God knows, A Miner Detail has taken Mr. Elrich to task over a number of his policies and executive decisions. This small but resolute local media outlet won’t anytime soon be added to Mr. Elrich’s holiday card list, that is for certain.
But what’s right is right and what happened today was simply wrong.
It was appalling. It was shameful. It was embarrassing to Montgomery County.
To paraphrase (or slightly alter) the words of fictional President Andrew Shepherd’s indelible speech given from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room (this is from Aaron Sorkin’s 1990’s cinematic masterpiece, The American President).
“We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them,” and, paraphrasing here, “the protestors today aren’t the least bit interested in solving them…”
The self-beclowning protestors today should stick to their own scrimmage.
Because Marc Elrich – good, bad, or indifferent – is way out of their league.