I was going to vote for the guy anyway

There are many reasons I was likely to vote for Mike Michaud in next year’s gubernatorial race in Maine.

Being honest with myself, I am a liberal-ish kind of guy.  During the years where I practiced in the state, I saw how hard-hit its economy continues to be by the near-total evaporation of its industrial base.  I believe that a relatively robust system of public services is something a great many people in Maine need.  Michaud is one of the more reliably liberal members of Congress, so I imagine he shares my perspective on this.

Which brings me to the other major reason I would almost certainly be voting for Mike Michaud in next year’s election — he is not Paul LePage.  I would vote for a lobotomized macaque before I would vote for Gov. LePage.  Not only is his… let’s say “colorful” rhetoric a source of nigh unto constant embarrassment to the state, but his prioritization of ideology over actually helping its citizens  is stupefying and appalling.  If japanese-macaque-01they made “Drooling Macaque for Maine!” bumper stickers, I would have one on my car by now.

So I was a pretty solid Michaud prospect already.

And then came this startling revelation, of which I heard on my drive to work:  (My reaction was pretty much exactly like the Pigeon’s when he gets offered a cookie.)

Once I jumped to an early lead in the polls, I knew it was only a matter of time before individuals and organizations intent on re-creating the uncertainty that led to our current governor’s election three years ago would start their attacks. Already my opponents have tried to blatantly distort my support for a woman’s right to choose and my tireless commitment to our nation’s veterans.

So I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay.

Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes I am. But why should it matter?”

I… did not expect that.

According to the commentary that followed (a link to which I cannot seem to find just now), apparently this has been something many people already knew, with a tacit understanding that it wouldn’t be discussed much.  Back when Michaud was first elected to the Maine legislature in 1980, being gay would have been a huge liability.  Now that people no longer seem to care that much about a person’s sexuality, and in a state that legalized marriage equality by referendum, it seems that coming out is seen as the politically smart choice.

Since I’m not much of a political insider in Maine, I had no idea.  My only inkling would have been Michaud’s attendance at the EqualityMaine banquet that I also attended the year Maine passed its referendum banning LGBT discrimination.  He was, if memory serves, the only high-profile pol there that year.  [Edited to add: I have been told by the Better Half that Gov. Baldacci also attended, and that apparently we were seated at his table.  Whoopsie!]  However, since the banquet is often a draw for progressive politicians (Angus King attended last year), “dude must be gay” wasn’t the conclusion I drew.

If I were to predict a response to this revelation, I would guess at a mild positive effect.  I think pretty much all the non-LePage voters who split their votes between Democratic and Independent candidates last time share my “Macaque 2014!” sentiments, and would happily vote Michaud under just about any circumstances.  Adding in the historic factor of electing the first openly gay governor may give a bit of a boost.  Michaud is from the 2nd District, and has always easily won re-election to Congress.  Even though it’s the more conservative part of the state, I suspect his popularity there may mitigate whatever negative effect his sexuality might have with voters.

Do I think it would be great to elect an openly gay governor?  You bet!  But it wouldn’t have made me support him if I weren’t already inclined to like his policies.  If Ken Mehlman relocates to Kennebunkport and launches a political bid here, I will happily support his straight opponent.  This announcement doesn’t really affect my vote.

And now we’ll just have to wait and see how well I know my adopted state.

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46 thoughts on “I was going to vote for the guy anyway

  1. I hope for and expect the best. I am pleased that he did it.

    On the Macaque for Governors race, allow me to say that my near and dear neighbor Virginia, which after all pioneered the use of genus macaca in gubernatorial races, currently seems poised to elect a drooling Macaque over its own LaPage. And to it, I say a cautious, “Hear, hear” and step aside from the flung dung.

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  2. On the subject of Paul LePage…

    If you have a chance, you should go to LaPage’s Wikipedia page and read through his accomplishments as Governor of Maine. (Note: This is not a list of controversies while gov, it is a list of his accomplishments.) It’s pretty instructive.

    It pretty much encapsulates everything that is wrong with movement conservatism these days: LaPage doesn’t seem to have a single policy initiative to point to after three years of office. Rather, his intended accomplishments seem to be purposefully irritating liberals, getting on conservative talk radio, and making symbolic and utterly meaningless gestures in the name of “conservatism.”

    Here is the entire list:

    * Promoted State of the State address with twitter

    * Publicly refused to speak with the NAACP.

    * Stood against a state Bisphenal A ban on the basis that the ban was unscientific (and claimed the ban would make women more masculine/feminist) long enough to get on talk radio, and then after the press was bored withdrew his opposition without comment.

    * Removed a mural that depicted labor in a positive light from the Maine Dept of Labor office.

    * Publicly insulted state employees as a group.

    * Put forth a badly written education reform bill that clearly would not pass muster with the Supreme Court to say that he had done it.

    * Accused Dems of being Nazi’s and committing censorship for being critical of him.

    * The Vaseline comment Russell linked to.

    * Publicly stated that the mainstream press is out to lie to “the people.”

    * Publicly stated that President Obama hates white people.

    * Declared a “civil emergency” during the government shutdown so as to bypass State rules on spending – and then used that discretionary and non-transparent power not to support safety nets or people at risk, but instead to jump on the talk radio band wagon and keep a Federal Park that had a boat ramp open.

    Aaaaaand, that’s it. That’s what governing is, it would appear, to Paul LePage: A bully pulpit to regurgitate whatever you heard on talk radio shows that days.

    I very much hope he loses, and loses big.

    Good riddance.

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    • The question I keep coming to and never get answers for is why does movement conservatism seem so pleased with the constant desire to “annoy liberals” over any substantive requirements.

      I believe in the importance of multiple-ideologies in government. It keeps the parties more honest and corruption-free but now movement conservatism seems to ask one question and that question is “Does it annoy a liberal?” This is true for LePage, Ford, the Tea Party in New Hampshire (who were voted out quickly), Sarah Palin, Rush/Talk Radio, etc.

      What is with all the rage?

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      • My own theory is that it is because the movement is built upon the foundation of talk radio and infotainment news sources.

        In order to get conservative media attention/donations/votes, you aren’t required to either craft policy or govern effectively — you’re required to throw red meat around. In fact, I think you can make an argument that you’re better off never crafting policy or governing at all, ever — look at how the movement turns on anyone in its ranks that attempts to do either in a way that is anything but vapidly symbolic. (e.g.: The way they treated Romney for his largely successful MA healthcare plan, vs. the way they treated the pols who said we should solve the healthcare crisis by sticking it to the trial lawyers).

        Sure, there are a lot of cynical pols that play the game because they want to keep their jobs and their spotlight. But after all this time I actually think there is a generation of movement-con pols who have been isolated in the bubble so long that they really do believe saying things to piss off liberals is what governing is. They are conservative enough to be able to peel off several Reagan one liners, but young enough that they don’t know about the negotiating, compromising, persuading, reaching across the aisle-ing, and… well, governing that Reagan was so masterful at. All they know is that he was successful, and that he said a few lines that were ant-liberal and critical of the government, and so to them it makes sense that that’s all you need to do to be as successful as he was.

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      • Not to sound like a broken record, but the answer to this is pretty simple in my view- there is actually very little uniting the Republican Party and its base at this point. Their interests are too divergent and diametrically at odds. The only way to preserve unity is by being against the other guys, since there’s very little of significance that all or most Republicans are unified in actually being for.

        To further Tod’s point, I’ve got a post in the hopper pointing out that Ted Cruz’s legislative agenda is even less substantive than Governor LePage’s – signficantly less, in fact.

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      • It’s indicative of the problem that Sarah Palin’s career as a national politician was based entirely on her ability to annoy liberals and deliver speeches full of red meat. Her chief accomplishment as governor, which was to extract more money from the oil companies, was never mentioned, since it was the antithesis of the sort of politician she claimed to be.

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      • It’s because there are no real ideas in this segment of the conservative movement, . So if you don’t have any ideas, but do know that every idea and every person on the other side of the aisle is exactly dead wrong on everything, then doing the opposite of what they want must, by definition, be good government.

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      • Not a villain as much as a complete idiot, to exemplify the idea that conservatives are stupid. (Sully made her into a villain, but most of us on the left thought he had lost his mind about her. It’s his fixation on her son’s *real* mother than made me stop reading him.) She has a lot of natural talent for that.

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      • “Villain” may indeed be not quite right, but the narrative pretty strongly depended on her being a right-wing nut. Which coincided with what the conservatives wanted precisely. Neither wanted the narrative complicated by the fact that Palin wasn’t initially what they decided she should be.

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      • : “Sarah Palin became who the hard-right and left needed her to be. The right wanted a hero, the left wanted a villain, and Palin wanted to be a star. There was nobody left to say otherwise.”

        This is probably the most succinct and true encapsulation of Palin that I have ever read, Will.

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      • Jay, that reminds me of a “conversation” I had once on a blog that probably flies under your radar. The picture of the day was of a certain Catholic priest from the first half of the last century, who was famous for his work in social justice. They argued that he was a communist, because social justice. I pointed out that he wasn’t a communist at all, and was in fact anti-communist, to which the blog’s author countered, in essence (actually almost literally), that I was confused, because social justice.

        I point this out because, at this point, I don’t think it matters what folks on the “left”, or even what people in history who weren’t remotely leftist but who used words that sounded lefty believe, because the representations of the “left” among certain talk-show listenin’ elements of the “right” are so entrenched.

        That said, I would certainly prefer a more focused “left,” of the scare quotes sort. And I worry that that “left” tends to vilify the talk-show listenin’ elements of the “right” in ways that are blatantly classist, border on anti-labor (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a lot of the “neoliberal” “left” comes from the upper middle or upper class, is Ivy League educated, etc.), and ultimately divert focus from actually progressing. It’s been my experience that those who are actually involved in causes on the “left” are less interested in the “right,” except to the extent that they put up barriers towards progress on those causes, than the “left” more generally, but activists and others actively working towards causes make up a significant minority of both sides.

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      • One more thing, a bit off topic I’m afraid.

        In my various walkings, I walk past a Planned Parenthood clinic a couple times a month, usually on Saturday mornings. Each time, I stop to chat with the people, usually 2 or 3, but occasionally more, standing next to the sidewalk just outside of the large fence surrounding the clinic (necessary because of very real violence in the past). They have signs, usually strapped to their legs, asking for those driving by to pray for an end to abortion. They’re very nice people who genuinely believe both that abortion is a great evil, and that their prayers and those of the people passing by that clinic and clinics across the state and the country, will help to end abortion. They don’t just mean legal abortion, either. They mean all abortion. They’re members of a larger group, connected with Evangelical and fundamentalist churches all over the city, who believe the same. To them, they are in a sort of holy war against secularism, feminism, and liberalism (all of which are vague, abstract, evil concepts to them that blur together, at least in our brief conversations), and as such they cannot give any ground. That means, for example, that to a person they reject the idea of using empirically-tested means of sexual education, birth control drugs, condoms, and other demonstrably effective methods of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the number of abortions. Those are the products of secularism, feminism, liberalism, etc. To me, it looks like they are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. To them, the perfect will, if enough people ask it, and if they ask it hard enough, manifest itself, rendering the good irrelevant.

        The moral of the story is that sometimes, believing in god/afterlives is as polarizing and ineffective as being aimlessly awash on a sea of partisan nihilism. They may take different paths, but they arrive in the same place: nowhere near their goal, with a trail of very real victims in their wake.

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      • I think it is wanting to be a star and throwing red meat at the GOP convention that turned her into the buffonish character she is for the left. I don’t recall any scorn until the infamous convention speech.

        Ah! Father Coughlin! The notorious anti-Semite.

        Do you have any evidence that it is primarily working-class people that listen to talk radio? I’ve see a lot of studies that say working class people (union or not) are largely aligned with the Democratic Party. At least people making under 30 or 40,000 a year. Now maybe there are other factors like race and union-membership involved but I think this also includes white voters.

        Though I do agree that certain elements of the Democratic coalition like tech can be very anti-labor and potentially anti-working class. I’m old school in my trade unionism.

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      • Do you have any evidence that it is primarily working-class people that listen to talk radio? I’ve see a lot of studies that say working class people (union or not) are largely aligned with the Democratic Party. At least people making under 30 or 40,000 a year. Now maybe there are other factors like race and union-membership involved but I think this also includes white voters.

        I don’t have any evidence, but it’s not inconsistent to say that most members of rightwing talk shows are working class even if most members of the working class align with the Democrats. There’s the venn diagram thingy we can invoke, not to mention the phenomenon of people loving their (sometimes blue dog, sometimes non-blue dog) Dem rep or Senator and being otherwise very conservative.

        I think is probably right when he says “union white working class vote Democrat, non-union white working class vote Republican.” But even that can come with partial counterexamples. My father was a union man, but listened to Rush (disturbingly often…..he also occasionally expressed the belief that the Clintons had Vince Foster and Ron Brown assassinated, and orchestrated the Waco incident just to take his guns and the guns of his fellow freedom-lovers….I know I mention this a lot, and I’m sorry for the repetition). Of course, my father was white, so that puts him in Chris’s hypothesis for talk radio audience’s demographic.

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    • you forgot nepotism! Gov. LePage named his 21-year-old daughter as his chief of staff and when she moved on to work for his re-election campaign, replaced her with his son-in-law. (The real shame of it is, this seems to have violated no law and maybe Mainers want to do something about that, too.)

      LePage’s accomplishments sound like what one of my very conservative friends seems to periodically joke about: do nothing but, and only, things that will annoy liberals. My friend is, I know, joking. LePage seems to have taken the jokes and the rhetoric with sincerity, and other than a few symbolic public statements, put the state’s government on autopilot while he dances about like a performing monkey for the delight of the conservative media.

      The amazing thing to contemplate is — whatever his public denials of such ambitions, like all politicians who attain any sort of significant office he no doubt sees himself one day moving in to a slightly off-white Georgian Revival house on Pennsylvania Avenue in the northwest corner of Washington DC with a somewhat larger support staff than he currently enjoys.

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    • Well, we have him for another year. And Elliot Cutler again seems intent on running as a potential spoiler.

      I would defend LePage on two issues:

      First, he’s repeatedly and publicly said that to stop domestic violence, men must take responsibility for their own actions; that it’s a problem of men. I very much admire that;

      Second, he has put fourth one policy idea (that has not turned to initiative) that I thing excellent — combining high school and the cummunity college system for some students, so that five years of combined schooling results in both the HS diploma and an associates degree. Sadly, I’ve not seen much evidence that this goes beyond talk.

      On the ills of LePage, it started from the get-go, when his agency heads all came in pre-loaded with legislation that still had the ALEC headers on it. And I should note that the state still pays for Republican members of the legislature to attend ALEC conferences, where they are amply supplied with ALEC’s sample legislation, paid for by unknown funders. We started way down the rabbit hole of government sold out to corporate interests.

      But hey, Portland legalized. So the times, they are a changing.

      I’ve met Michaud several times, interviewed him several times (he was a good source when I was writing about veterans issues, a counterbalance to the propaganda I was fed by Secretary Chen’s Veterans office). He’s a good man, he’ll make a great governor, and I’m proud he’s come out with a, “Why should it matter?’

      It should matter that it doesn’t matter.

      Thanks, Doc.

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