Less government, with an asterisk

Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Legislators were no sooner out of Augusta when Gov. Paul LePage unleashed another fusillade of abuse upon their weary heads.

On WVOM Radio, he called the 127th Legislature “absolutely horrendous” and “the worst since I’ve been governor.” He blasted it for increasing energy costs. He took aim at Republicans in general (who “ought to be ashamed of themselves”) and called out a few legislators for special attention.

In the “pro” column, the governor acknowledged it was “a good effort to put money in the Rainy Day Fund,” though he would have liked to see more. He paid the legislature a backhanded compliment for enacting welfare reform, which “Maine people do want … and finally they [the legislature] are coming around.”

The chief frustration the governor expressed with the legislative branch is its pace. He cited several areas in which he has been working for years with little or no progress. “The legislature’s always a couple years late.”

Despite some efforts to reframe themselves as a more inclusive party, not to mention the less-government party, Republicans opened their state convention last Saturday with a vote for the good old days.

Their newly approved platform will oppose Maine’s taxpayer-funded “Clean Elections” program in favor of “voluntary and transparent” business as usual. If Clean Elections is “welfare for politicians,” as the governor has said, then the majority of Republicans running for office in 2016 are on welfare.

Republicans reaffirmed their definition of marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.” There was a little squeak out of what was described as “a group of young Republicans” who thought that might be a turn-off for some potential recruits, but the tiny rebellion was quickly extinguished.

So the party that has adopted the principle that “the government must not interfere, but rather support and protect the integrity and rights of the family” is also going to dictate who can marry whom. Also, who must bear a child (that would be everyone pregnant) regardless of family or economic circumstances, or the health of mother or child.

These adopted policies certainly support the Republican platform (Principle V.) that “the most effective government is closest to the people.” It is a close government indeed that gets right onto your front porch and tells you who should be living inside – not two men, not two women.

But wait, the rest of platform Principle V., the one about the most effective government, says that government also is “the least intrusive.” If intervening in intimate decisions about who to marry or whether to bear a child is not considered intrusive, what the heck is?

Bullet (D.) below the “effective government” section the platform says: “Individuals are responsible for decisions affecting their lives and well-being.” There should be a big, fat asterisk after that one, citing the instances in which the Republican Party will insert its judgment for yours. After all, it’s “our” party. Not yours, or yours, or yours.

The touted Ben Carson speech on Friday evening generated little by way of news, “little” being a polite way to say “nothing.” Well, there was this … Carson said, “The next time you sing the National Anthem and you get to the last part of the first stanza and it says the home of the free and the land of the brave …” Unless he was misquoted, it’s “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” His point was we “cannot be free if we’re not brave.” Likewise, perhaps we cannot be president if we can’t correctly recite the words to the national anthem.

Carly Fiorina, another short-timer in the GOP presidential race, also was featured at the Maine convention. Here is a woman who, unlike many of the other candidates, present and departed, can string thoughts together, but she did not make much of a splash, either.

Sen. Susan Collins, a must-have at such events, would be an easy pick in a game of “which one of these is not like the others?” Sensible, effective and perhaps the most broadly popular politician in Maine, the senator said she was “really impressed with the number of young people at the convention.” Unfortunately, they are the same young people who tried to warn their party away from its constraining position on civil rights, with no success.

Awards were promised to acknowledge “some of our finest Maine Republicans” who have “truly made the Maine GOP our state’s premier political party.” Curiously, the premier political party consists of just 27 percent of registered voters.

One of the awards will go to the Republican legislator “who has delivered the most impactful speech on the House or Senate floor in 2015.” Impactful speeches being few and far between, we are on the edge of our collective seat.

If there were an award for the most courageous leadership in Augusta – There isn’t – it should go to Senate President Mike Thibodeau. If he is not recognized by his party, we’ll give him the people’s choice award.

Go forth and fundraise, Republicans. The Democrats will convene the first weekend in May, at which time we will get a look at their priorities. Stay tuned.

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.

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