When you Google “Governor Paul LePage,” these words drop from the omniscient Internet cloud like acidic raindrops in April: bully, bold, brash and bombastic.
A deeper probe into the worldwide abyss of search headlines includes “Combative Maine Governor,” “America’s Craziest Governor,” and a favorite no doubt in the eyes of our state’s tourism board, “Maine’s Madman Governor.”
Not that the collective consciousness of an Internet search should define anyone’s character or career, but it’s impossible to ignore that Maine’s commander-in-chief is almost universally viewed as our commander-in-conniption. It’s a sober and net-negative truth that would (should) motivate most political or business leaders to tap the brakes a bit on their exportation of acrimony/outrage. But for LePage, public criticism only seems to serve as a nitrous boost of political fuel.
My fingers twitch with reflex discomfort when I type these words, but in some areas big and small, I sometimes agree with our governor, most frequently on fiscal practicality and personal responsibility. Although I support traditional Democratic Party principles associated with human rights and social policies rooted in care, compassion and fairness, I do so with an economic perspective that requires a calculator held in one hand while the other gives out funding for government programs.
In short, not having the available and identifiable means to pay for government programs may address one set of immediate needs (and wants), while only transferring hardship to other people and programs down the line by increasing tax burdens and creating new economic hurdles. Many of my friends in the Democratic Party seem to struggle with this reality, as it requires a process of critical thinking that trumps base-level impulse response.
Like my Democratic brethren, I desperately want to provide every Mainer with educational excellence, health care, energy support, food, housing, jobs, technology, medicine, child care support, transportation assistance, drug treatment, vocational training, elder care, free Internet access, and dozens of other worthwhile categories of support.
But for every dollar allocated to these programs and many others statewide, we must have a clear and fiscally responsible plan to pay for them in real time – not through debt, bonds or any other mechanism to defer the cost and burden to future politicians and taxpayers.
It’s here that LePage seems to lose his mind and lash out with vitriolic personal attacks against anyone and everyone with the temerity to disagree with him – while threatening to kill whatever political hostage is nearby (e.g., withhold bond funding, veto-palooza, government shutdown).
That is why I believe LePage is planning on shutting down Maine’s government later this month. With about 1,300 days left in his gubernatorial reign of terror, the current budget deliberations stuck in the state Legislature represent the highest stage with the loudest bull(y)horn to do the most damage to Maine.
I’ve never questioned LePage’s love for or allegiance to Maine. I believe that he really cares for our state, but that his self-documented, deep-rooted childhood pain has contributed to a tortured and anger-based psyche. One that he can’t control. One that threatens Maine.
It’s clear from even a small sample of his quotes that our governor is a man in pain:
“I’d tell him to go to hell and get out of my state.” (Referencing President Obama.)
“(Sen. Troy Jackson of Aroostook County) claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”
“You guys, you’re idiots and you’re just as bad if not worse than those other guys.” (Comparing independent state legislators to Democrats.)
“About 47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work … about 47 percent. It’s really bad!” (Speaking in Falmouth.)
And last Friday, in a Blaine House news conference temper tantrum, “Speaker of the House (Mark Eves) should go back to where he was born and (Senate Minority Leader) Justin Alfond should be put in a playpen.”
Why would someone holding the highest elected office in Maine, someone with a reasonable concern over fiscal policy, resort to name-calling and such pedestrian bully tactics as a part of his ongoing operating system?
While I wasn’t one of the nearly 295,000 voters in Maine who re-elected Paul LePage last November, I am a Maine resident, taxpayer and citizen. And, I’m concerned. Actually, scared.
Being past the point of feeling any political disagreement with our governor, while at the same time respecting the office that he holds, I would simply ask him to put aside his personal pain, to stick to the important issues at hand, and to fulfill his duty with honor while representing all of Maine.
Governor, we all feel your pain. Please rise above it, for all of our sakes.