Dan Cox, the Republican nominee for the Governor of Maryland, and Gordana Schifanelli, the Lt. Governor nominee are, one could safely conclude, an unlikely pair. But, this is also an unlikely political cycle. Traditional, cookie-cutter candidates are not the flavor of the times. That this rather unlikely pair managed to defeat in the July primaries the heavy favorite and Gov. Hogan endorsed Kelly Schulz, speaks to the political mood of the moment. What is that mood?
Dan Cox, a native of Maryland — he was born in Tacoma Park, MD — is a veteran of running for a variety of local political offices, state and federal, mostly in the suburban Maryland region (8th Congressional District), and subsequently from more northern and western parts of rural Maryland. He currently represents District 4 (Frederick and Carrol counties) in the Maryland House of Delegates.
With his strong support for the patriotic and economic security America First Policy Agenda, Dan Cox caught the eye of the 45th President of the United Stated, Mr. Donald J. Trump. Dan has earned the much coveted 2022 election-cycle endorsement from Mr. Trump. He got a shout-out from Mr. Trump at the Wilkes-Barre, PA rally this past week.
Gordana Schifanelli, on the other hand, is an adopted daughter; she hails from Belgrade, Serbia, an ocean and 4,700 miles away! She makes her home in Queen Anne County, where she settled with her husband Marc Schifanelli, a former Green Beret, now retired from active duty and a practicing attorney in Annapolis. Gordana has an impressive resume of her own. She obtained a Doctorate in Economics from her home town University of Belgrade. Upon arriving to the United States she became fascinated with the “codification of liberty”, as she puts it, the enshrinement of liberty in a constitution. The fascination with liberty inspired her to pursue a law degree at the University of Baltimore. She was an adjunct professor at the US Naval Academy before taking a time-out to campaign full-time. Dan Cox is also an attorney with special interest in Constitutional Law.
It is at this intersection, and “intersectionality” being a thing nowadays, that these two unlikely paths crossed: the love of liberty. It is a theme that is threaded throughout their campaign, but more importantly, it is a passion that is notable when either or both of them speak. When liberty is at very core of one’s belief system, it spreads out in a centrifugal pattern — it reverberates through everything it touches from civil (and medical) rights to economics and education. In a free society, liberty is the “ground of all things”, noted a Nobel Prize winning economist.
I’ve known Gordana for a long while from the local “peninsula” politics. She has made a name for herself in the neighboring Queen Anne County in the fight for Parental Rights and de-politicization of the school curriculum. The fight was prolonged and intense. Gordana, a mother of three, is a passionate and relentless defender of non-politicized education. Having grown up under a socialist regime she is all too familiar with what “social learning” is: “brainwashing”, as she unabashedly puts it. She knows. She has lived it. Her husband Marc now serves on the Board of Education in Queen Anne.
Freedom, to both Dan Cox and Gordana is, at its most basic, “ability to choose” how you see the world, and how you wish to live your life in that world — it is “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness — all subsequent versions and gradations are but varieties of this basic, fundamental value.
Liberty is an ever present theme in American politics. Liberty is, after all, an American Birthmark and an American Birthright.
Things ever-present can be taken for granted, get a patina of dullness about them, they can get dusty and settled with a non-enterprising status of a relic. From time to time they have to be jolted back to life, infused with new spirit and energy.
The Covid pandemic and the overreaching government response was such a watershed moment — a Road to Damascus moment for many Americans. Businesses were forcefully shutdown, and many were put out of business permanently when the “two week shutdown to flatten the curve” turned into prolonged closures. People were prevented from going to work and earning a living. Schools closed and millions of children were relegated to “remote learning”. Many schools remained closed for almost two academic years, causing undue developmental damage and learning loss. The Biden administration eventually mandated that citizens subject themselves to an experimental therapeutic/vaccine that has since been proven to be anything but “safe and effective”.
This government overreach and intrusion into our private lives was a watershed moment for many Americans, including Marylanders who were subjected to draconian stay-at-home orders. The liberty that we have taken for granted, the relic we dusted-off from time to time, like on Veterans Day, on Memorial Day, or the 4th of July, echoed like a voice in a twilight dream.
The spirit of liberty reawakened. That potent Benjamin Franklin adage, “he who would trade liberty for some temporary security deserves neither liberty nor security”, came knocking. For some of us, loudly.
Americans are once again choosing that fundamental value, liberty. The “stay at home” and obey “mandate-supporting” candidate only carried two counties in the state of Maryland.
The Democratic ticket headed by Wes Moore echoes, approvingly, much of what we have just lived through and rejected. The Democratic ticket promises much of the same for the future: mandates, dictates, more government control, and of course more taxes to pay for it all.
Dan Cox and Gordana Schifanelli are the liberty ticket for Maryland: political freedom, economic freedom, medical freedom, and educational choice, because “LIBERTY is the ground of all things”.
Former Chair, Kent County GOP