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The Chorus is Sounding a Bit Sour

April 2, 2011

I love Maine, and in an odd way, I am grateful that Paul LePage is who he is and that, for a time, he has served as it’s Governor.

Maine Governor Paul LePage

LePage has, with no hesitation, illuminated some very basic questions about who and what the people and the State of Maine are. They are questions that have lingered in my mind for many years behind our appearance of tranquility, concern and calm independent thought.

We’ve told the country for years that we represent the Way Life Should Be. Like every other state, we have struggled for generations with the normal problems of any society: faltering economies, the dilemma of preserving natural resources in the face of needed development, and the challenge of incorporating increasingly diverse populations into the proud and coherent mix we call Americans. Through it all, we’ve proclaimed that “We Lead the Way.”

Crushed by the same unexpected disaster as the rest of the nation (and the world), unimagined anger exploded from the core of our collective political conscience. Everyone had a finger to point, usually at whoever happened to be in an elected office, but too often at whoever looked different, thought differently or lived differently than they did.

Governor LePage was elected by a “minority landslide,” a fluke of the plurality voting mechanism we employ in our state. Nevertheless, he was a perfect choice to sound the voice of collective anger. And he has.

In three short months, he has led Maine to the front of the national stage in a role we never wanted to play. Rather than displaying the leadership, prudence and compassion of political icons like Republican Margaret Chase Smith and Democrat Edmund Muskie, the character of Paul LePage has cast us in the role of the schoolyard bully. Today, even his supporting Republican chorus has realized that the melody they’ve been singing is a bit sour and the lyrics are colored with fear and disdain. Tomorrow, we’re told by the Portland Press Herald, nearly half of Maine’s Republican Senators will release a public statement criticizing the manner in which Governor LePage has led the way for Maine.

The play, of course, will continue, but Governor LePage’s current vacation has given Mainers a chance to pause, to look back on the past several months and consider whether his version really portrays their vision of The Way Life Should Be.

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