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When I saw that Gov. Janet Mills was warming to the idea of an electric corridor through Maine from Canada to Massachusetts, I figured the honeymoon was over.
But then I knew when I voted for her that Mills is not as progressive as I am and that I was going to have to take the bad with the good. And there has already been a great deal of good.
Gov. Mills’ first budget expands Medicaid, addresses the opioid crisis, raises teacher salaries and funds universal pre-K public education, all without increasing taxes. Mills is serving the people rather than making them suffer the way her predecessor did. So if she ends up supporting the New England Clean Energy Connect, I’ll just have to forgive her.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or as Voltaire put it, “le mieux est l’ennemi du bien – “the best is the enemy of the good.” We risk losing something good when we insist on perfection.
I kept thinking of this aphorism as liberals howled for Virginia’s Democrat governor, Ralph Northam, to resign because of a photo of him in blackface in a yearbook 30 years ago. Obviously, such behavior was and is insulting and calls for an apology. But if Democrats insist that every Democrat who is not perfect resign, we’ll be left with only Republicans in office.
In Northam, Virginia has a governor who is a physician and a veteran, a man who supports a woman’s right to choose, called for Confederate statues to come down, opposes fracking and offshore drilling, takes climate change seriously, supports the Affordable Care Act, cast the deciding vote against a ban on sanctuary cities and, by the way, attends a predominantly African-American church.
African-Americans in Virginia obviously weighed “what has he done for us lately” against “what did he do 30 years ago” when they decided overwhelmingly (58 percent) that they did not want Northam to resign. It was their call and they called it right.
Conservatives know they can rely on liberals to throw any Democrat under the bus at the first whiff of racism or sexism and, in Virginia, they almost succeeded. Get rid of the Democratic governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general and the Republican speaker of the house becomes governor.
When accusations of improprieties arise, there should be an impartial fact-finding and a deliberate due process before anyone is found guilty and punished. The knee-jerk rush to judgment among my fellow progressives is deeply troubling. We play right into conservative hands.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, felt the wrath of the left and right recently when she suggested congressional support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby,” Benjamins being $100 bills. Pro-Israel groups gave close to $15 million to political candidates in 2018, so her criticism seems valid, perhaps not entirely accurate, but not hateful either. But coming from a Muslim member of Congress it was condemned as anti-Semitism. Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. Still, Omar was pressured to apologize.
You know who doesn’t apologize? President Donald Trump, the real enemy of the good.
In the last week, Trump has been tweeting far worse things about Elizabeth Warren than Omar has ever tweeted, calling her Pocahontas and making glib, hateful references to the Trail of Tears, Wounded Knee and the Battle of Little Bighorn.
But you know who doesn’t care? That’s right, the same Republicans who count on liberal Democrats to fall on their swords over the smallest slight.
We have to stop doing that. Nobody’s perfect.
Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.