In June, I wrote about yet another unsavory politician, Maine Governor Paul LePage . I really thought I was done with Mr. LePage, but today he is back in the news. It appears that Mr. LePage will be tendering his resignation as governor very soon, either voluntarily or by force. LePage appears to have modeled himself after none other than Donald Trump, as he is brash, outspoken even when he knows not of what he speaks, and has definitive racist tendencies. He claims to know just what his state needs, but he is wrong far more than he is right, and his latest fiascos have even Republican legislators calling for his resignation.
In just a 48-hour period last week, Mr. LePage threatened a Democratic lawmaker in a profane voice mail message, made sweeping statements about race and ended the week by doubling down and seeming to endorse racial profiling to address the state’s drug crisis:
- On Wednesday, Mr. LePage told attendees at a town hall meeting that the vast majority of drug dealers in Maine, which is in the grips of a heroin crisis, were black or Hispanic, and said he was keeping a binder of charged criminals to prove it.
- State Representative Drew Gattine said the remarks were racially charged. In response, LePage left a voice mail message for Mr. Gattine, in which he called him obscenities and said, “I am after you.” Mr. LePage then told reporters that he would like to have a duel with Mr. Gattine and shoot him between the eyes. I will not print the text of the voicemail here, as it contains extreme profanity, but if you have the stomach for it, you can listen to it here.
- On Friday, Mr. LePage took his binder of drug arrests, with mug shots, to a news conference, and compared Maine’s drug crisis to a war in which combatants must identify and shoot at the enemy. “The enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color, or people of Hispanic origin,” Mr. LePage said.
Not surprisingly, Democratic lawmakers in Maine are calling for his resignation, but even Republican State Senator Amy Volk has expressed concern and believes LePage is no longer fit for office. “I share your deep concerns regarding the governor’s behavior,” Ms. Volk wrote. “What I do not know is whether it is due to substance abuse, mental illness or just ignorance.” Another Republican lawmaker responded with “Look, if anybody did this that was an employee of any corporation in our state, there would be ramifications,” said Michael Thibodeau, the Republican president of the State Senate.
These are not isolated incidents, but as I noted in my previous post about LePage, he has a history of unprofessional, inappropriate behaviour that I cannot help but liken to Mr. Trump’s own behaviour.
- In April he stormed offstage during a public appearance, calling protesting students “idiots”.
- In March he displayed “Wanted”-style posters aimed at environmentalist and union groups during a town meeting, saying those groups were holding the state back.
- In February he said asylum-seekers brought disease and the “ziki-fly.”
These are but a few of his highly inappropriate actions and comments. I considered awarding Mr. LePage this week’s Idiot of the Week award, but I stopped short because, as Ms. Volk aptly points out, this behaviour seems to be escalating and may well be the result of a medical or mental health condition. Nonetheless, it is, in fact, time for Mr. LePage to step down from public office. No elected official should be given license to be so blatantly racist, to unapologetically make these types of comments repeatedly.
LePage himself seems to be conflicted about his position. In a radio interview this morning, he announced that he is considering his resignation and may not finish out his term.
“I’m looking at all options. I think some things I’ve been asked to do are beyond my ability. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to finish it. I’m not saying that I am going to finish it. If I’ve lost my ability to help Maine people, maybe it’s time to move on.”
But then just a few hours later, he ‘tweeted’: “Regarding rumors of resignation, to paraphrase Mark Twain: ‘The reports of my political demise are greatly exaggerated.’ “ Maine legislators have been scrambling and are planning to meet this evening to discuss the options. I strongly suspect that if he does not do so of his own volition, he will be asked to step down, and if all else fails, the process to remove him from the Governor’s mansion will begin post haste. That is as it should be, for this man poses a serious threat to the state and its people, and surely nobody in his constituency can possibly have any respect for him at this point.
My final point in all of this is that I see so much Trump-like behaviour in Mr. LePage. Like Trump, LePage comes from a business background and was once the head of his own consulting firm, entering the political arena only in 2003 when he was elected mayor of Waterville, Maine. He was first elected governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He would next come up for re-election in 2018, another two years. Now think about having a President of the United States who behaves and speaks as Mr. LePage, with no filters, no conscience, no respect for anyone. People claim that ‘political correctness’ is a bad thing and that we should not be held to the norms of respectful speech. They are wrong. Political correctness is nothing more than being respectful instead of hurtful and rude. I think Mr. LePage as well as Mr. Trump have shown us what “taking off the gloves” of politically correct speech looks like, and I for one do not like it one bit. Think about it.