Intentionally Unreasonable: Americans have created a lazy democracy

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Donald Trump is an orange-tinted clown with what appears to be an impulse control disorder of epic proportions – an affliction that might be described by the mentally challenged, morally bankrupt, diarrheic Trump as the “GREATEST” in the world. “Really, the best,” I can hear him chortle, followed by the hollow assurance, “I promise you that!”

There is an entire Chinese food menu of significant reasons why Donald “Drumpf” – his original family name that just feels like a better representation of the man – shouldn’t be our next president in categories that include moral, ethical, intelligence, egotistical, empathy and core understanding of civics/government.

But, beyond the long list of technical and functional disqualifications that should bar Drumpf from being the next leader of the free world is this simple truth: he is at his core, beneath the glowing orange exterior, a no-frills jerk.

But to his self-promoted credit, and to recognize his world-class skill in the art of crass hyperbole, Drumpf is the greatest no-frills jerk on the planet. I promise you that!

Maine’s very own Paul LePage shares many similarities with the great orange one. Though less successful than Drumpf in areas of business and personal hair care, LePage is every bit an equal when it comes to possessing an operating system void of any impulse control associated with, or anchored by, critical thinking, empathy, humility, or human compassion.

Close to home, LePage was emotionally and socially tortured during a youth that featured mean streets and tough times. He experienced life experiences that ultimately forged within his damaged psyche an inflexible hardness and myopic perspective, weighed down by giant chips on both shoulders.

Growing up in Lewiston as the eldest son of 18 children, LePage lived in poverty with an alcoholic, abusive father who reportedly “terrorized” the kids, resulting in LePage running away from home at age 11. Living in horse stables, above a strip club and “on the streets” made deep and indelible scars – both emotional and mental – on the young boy that is now the Belligerent-in-Chief of Maine.

Today, that same little boy resides within the angry man who is two parts bully and one part sad little boy from Lewiston. Still today he is flailing away at the imaginary demons of hardship and his hard-life past.

Sadly, 1.3 million citizens of Maine have suffered his retribution through bad leadership, angry and destructive words, and a scorched-earth (state) approach for five years now, with three more to go.

It’s more than a sad coincidence that Drumpf and LePage are political forces at the same time in our history. Many people across the country and here in Maine are rightfully frustrated with the recent past and fearful of an uncertain future.

In many areas too complex to detail here, we’ve lost our way as a country. In the darkness, people are most susceptible to following the loudest and seemingly strongest voices – in this case the orange man and the former general manager of a local surplus and salvage retail business.

Also, Drumpf and LePage share a breathtaking capacity for speaking the language of incoherent gibberish at public events with a natural fluency that is often mistaken for passionate communication, but when later deconstructed, is just a series of random words (often hurtful and/or ignorant) mixed in with head shaking or frantic hand gesturing.

Loud gibberish. Angry gibberish. Partisan pandering gibberish. Still, all gibberish.

But, this column really isn’t about the Trump/LePage axis of boorish behavior, vulgarity of purpose, or political sadism. To be fair, they’re only the symptom, we’re the problem. You, me, our neighbors and friends.

Democracy is the best social and political system/machine ever created, but it demands and requires active participation from all of us.  We’ve become complacent and lazy in our democracy. We.

More than two centuries ago our country was formed to break free from the tyrannical rule of the British monarchy and aristocracy. The immense struggle and many sacrifices for freedom that our forefathers faced lasted more than a decade before culminating famously on July 4th of 1776.

I am in awe of the brilliance contained within the construct and writings of the Declaration of Independence. With no computers or technology involved, those 1,458 words were masterfully organized and thoughtfully composed to give birth to a nation – our nation.

With life and liberty at stake, the colonists at the time, organized as the Second Continental Congress, didn’t choose the biggest loudmouth to represent them and their families. They didn’t resort to bully tactics to gain independence. Instead, they recognized and respected a small group of leaders (Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin) who were chosen to write what may be the greatest document ever written.

They were smart and patriotic in the purest sense. And ultimately America was born from the proper and thoughtful selection of true and qualified leadership – not from the darker impulses that lay in the shadows of our human nature.

Now more than ever, we must remember the lessons and truths contained within the bedrock of our democracy as we look for ways out of the darkness during these challenging times.

Yes, there are many problems that face Maine and our country as a whole that can no longer be ignored. Yes, many people are living with terrible hardships that we must address. Yes, we all need to actively get more involved in our great democracy locally, statewide and throughout our country.

But no, we shouldn’t follow or elect the loudest or angriest person in the room as a remedy for the  many solutions needed – because the same problems will still exist – only with a loud and angry person in the room making things worse.

To me, this truth is self-evident: we need smarter and more competent leaders. Let’s start with each of us becoming better citizens who are more informed.

Even now, more than two centuries after the birth of our country, life and liberty are still at stake. We must act – and vote like it.

Steve Woods is from away, but fully here now, living in Yarmouth, working in Falmouth, traveling the world, and trying his best. His column appears every other week. He can also be heard each Saturday at 11 a.m. on WLOB-AM 1310.

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