According to important political knowers, it’s time to restore civility in Maine politics.
In politics, civility is a code word for dishonesty. Take newly elected Gov. Janet Mills, for example. In public, Mills is all about unity, equality and embracing little kids who sing off key. But out of the spotlight, she’s a gun-to-a-knife-fight, eye-gouging, bottle-smashing bar fighter, who leaves her opponents curled in a fetal position, wishing they’d remembered to put on athletic cups before daring to disagree with her.
It would be exhilarating to see more of that persona from Mills, and less of the artificial-maple-syrup-coated rhetoric she oozes when the cameras are rolling. If the situation has to be sticky, let it be from coagulated blood.
Former Gov. Paul LePage didn’t know what the word civility meant, which resulted in bouts of refreshing bluntness. LePage was an ogre, but never pretended otherwise. That’s a distinct improvement over the humble brags that characterize more allegedly civil politicians. Such as:
Unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Terry Hayes, who frequently congratulated herself because she had “never participated in a negative ad, and I never will.” Apparently, this means that if Hayes was running against a neo-Nazi child molester, she’d treat that creep as respectfully as any Nobel Peace Prize winner. How much more sensible it would be if she’d said, “I don’t like negative ads, but if I’m running against that weirdo, I’m producing a TV spot so biting, the pervert will wish he’d opted instead to be trapped in a small room with Janet Mills wearing pointy-toed shoes.”
Hayes and her ilk often cite past Maine politicians such as George Mitchell and Olympia Snowe as paragons of civility. But as with Mills, their polite veneers were all about public relations. When it came to being effective, both recognized the value of profanity, negativity and dismissing dissenters with lash marks all over their backs. Mitchell didn’t get to be U.S. Senate majority leader by being a nice guy. Snowe didn’t survive in a male-dominated Congress by curtseying. They checked their civility at the door.
Nevertheless, this state has been saddled with an organization called Maine Revives Civility. MRC grew out of Hayes’ 2014 effort to have the National Institute for Civil Discourse train local facilitators in the fine art of concealing their true feelings about the idiots that surrounded them. MRC state coordinator Mark Hews told the Lewiston Sun Journal the group’s goal is to “get back to a place where we know how to conduct ourselves in public spaces.” Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon bought that drivel, telling newly sworn-in legislators in December to “believe in each other’s goodness and intentions.”
Gideon had to be aware that one of the lawmakers she was addressing was Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Amherst, a homophobic, xenophobic, racist bluster bag, who runs something called the Maine First Project.
MFP sent out mailers in the last election attacking some legislators who supported a bill providing aid to legal immigrants, claiming they voted “to allow the killings to continue in Portland.” He also characterized aid to immigrants as being part of a “war on whites.” Rational people believe in Lockman’s “goodness and intentions” the same way they believe in Alex Jones’ Infowars.
Instead of civility, we should be striving for honesty, even if it’s unpleasant honesty. And we should remember that if we come anywhere near Janet Mills, it’s best to be wearing Kevlar boxer shorts.
Politeness doesn’t count when emailing email@example.com.