Global Matters: The greatest speech you'll never hear

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BREAKING NEWS: A reporter’s request under an obscure provision of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act has unearthed this draft of a speech prepared by an unnamed adviser in Gov. Paul LePage’s office.

Apparently, the adviser has suggested that the governor deliver the following speech as next year’s State of the State address, which will mark the halfway point in the governor’s four-year term. No word yet on whether the governor will actually deliver the speech, but we share it with you now as it represents a significant departure from the way things have been done to date in Augusta:

“Members of the Legislature, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens of the great state of Maine, I come before you this evening with the hope and the intent of starting a conversation, a real conversation, that will help put us on a path towards stability and prosperity for this wonderful state and its people.

“Let me begin by stating at the outset that when it comes to governing this state, it’s a lot harder than it looks. In business, particularly if you’re sitting in the corner office, you can make a decision and expect it to be carried out, more or less without objection, unless and until your customers or your employees vote with their feet and tell you, ‘No sale.’

“In government, you can do this, too, but only if you have the votes, and even then you can only impose your will or your policies upon people so many times before they begin to push back. In government, you need to work with the Legislature and build support among the voters to demonstrate that the changes you desire really do need to be made.

“In my first two years in office, I’ve allowed my desire and my impatience for change to overwhelm the need to build real consensus. In many cases we were indeed able to push our changes through, and I think time will show that these were the right changes to make. But we accomplished our goals at a high cost.

“We needlessly offended those who opposed our positions. We needlessly increased the partisanship that already exists in our politics. We needlessly polarized the discussion.

“I’ve come to realize that not only was this poor strategy, it was poor politics. I may be many things, but I’m smart enough to learn from my mistakes. So in these next two years, you’ll observe less dogma and more dialog; less bluster and more bipartisanship.

“We won’t be wasting time and resources on sideshows of our own creation. Take, for example, the mural at the Department of Labor. I don’t like it. But it’s important to a lot of people, it doesn’t cost a cent to display, and if putting it back up means I can mend some fences, well, back up it goes.

“I now realize that I came to office during an unusual period in our nation’s history. Circumstances gave us an opportunity and we seized it. If we’re to continue to progress, and by that I mean making the policy changes I sincerely feel are necessary, we need to change with the times.

“President Obama has won a second term. Democrats have gained seats in both houses of Congress and in both houses of the Maine Legislature. The country’s economy is growing again and unemployment is declining. The sky has not fallen, and the dire conditions that I still believe drive the larger agenda are much less obvious.

“Quite frankly, as the economy has improved, the urgency for radical change has dissipated. It’s more difficult for me to demand change because I can no longer point to imminent economic calamity.

“I continue to believe that fundamental changes are essential for Maine to survive, however.  What I’ve learned, though, is that I can’t achieve these important objectives unless I also change.

“So starting tonight, my office will seek a meaningful dialog with members of both parties in the Legislature. Starting tonight, we will speak to the people of Maine with the respect they deserve. Starting tonight, we’ll honestly present the facts as clearly as we can. When we don’t know something, we’ll say so. If our opponents prove us wrong, we’ll acknowledge it.

“I’ve only been in office two years, but this much I’ve learned: You can achieve victory by scorching the earth, but after you’ve won, all that’s left is scorched earth. I have too much respect for Maine people, and too much love for Maine, to leave that as my legacy.

“I believe that by working together, we can make this an even better place to live and raise a family. We can help secure Maine’s future. I extend my hand to all in a sincere gesture of partnership and cooperation. Let us do this important work together.

“Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the great state of Maine.”

Sidebar Elements

Perry B. Newman is a South Portland resident and president of Atlantica Group, an international business consulting firm based in Portland, with clients in North America, Israel and Europe. He is also chairman of the Maine District Export Council.