Parris Nelson Glendening, the 59th governor of Maryland, delivered an inaugural address yesterday that was part uplift, part classroom lecture and part personal philosophy. He presented a vision for Maryland that focused on individual cooperation and responsibility, family and education.
These have been persistent themes in Mr. Glendening's life. He overcame extreme poverty to become the youngest Ph.D. in political science in Florida State history. He taught for 27 years at College Park. He had a remarkable political career, without a defeat, in Prince George's County over two decades. And he has remained tenaciously and sentimentally committed to his wife and son -- and to the notion of preserving a normal family life despite the demands of public service.
Yet the paramount theme of his first speech as governor centered on reaching out to everyone. No one, he indicated, would be excluded. He quoted the poet Edwin Markham:
He drew a circle that shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
That is very much the Glendening approach. "Today we draw OUR circle," he told the crowd outside the State House. "Today we begin an era of unity, we begin a time of inclusion."
While his predecessor, William Donald Schaefer, thrived on conflict, Governor Glendening is a determined consensus-seeker. He has started to demonstrate this in forming a broadly based cabinet. He reiterated his priorities yesterday -- more jobs, safe streets, better education, a protected environment -- but made no sweeping promises of government action. Instead, he reminded Marylanders that improvements are more a matter of personal commitment. Schools won't change markedly until "teachers, parents, business people, entire communities join with us to make it happen."
Well-paying jobs won't flow into Maryland until "we recognize that business creates wealth, and opportunities, that meaningful work provides real independence and hope, that employees have community responsibilities that transcend the paycheck" -- and that business and labor must work together to create jobs.
The new governor talked of Maryland being able to "fly higher than an eagle" if there is an understanding that statewide needs, like family needs, supercede personal and regional desires. And he reflected on what past governors had achieved: Mr. Schaefer proved "that government service can be driven by compassion for people." Harry R. Hughes gave the state "dignified leadership" and a focus on environmental protection. Marvin Mandel modernized Maryland government.
Now it is Governor Glendening's turn. He will lay out specifics of his first-year plan tomorrow and next week. He set the tone for these endeavors yesterday. "In this age of cynicism I want to earn your faith." His quest has begun.