Anyone reading this morning’s Portland Press Herald this morning woke up to something far more frightening than any Stephen King novel or Friday the 13th movie: a poll showing Paul LePage 14 points ahead in the gubernatorial race. The thought of a LePage administration should be terrifying to us all. Among the positions he has taken are approving the teaching of creationism in the schools, supporting off-shore drilling off the coast of Maine (despite the fact that there’s no oil there…) and engaging in an aggressive dismantling of environmental regulations. He’s adopted a strategy of trying to talk to the press as little as possible, so that his more ridiculous comments, like saying that DEP is requiring bison counts (completely untrue) go unnoticed by anyone but NPR.
The root of LePage’s support lies in falling support for the Democratic party, rising support for the Republican party, the “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans, the general public’s lack of awareness of just how radical LePage actually is and the desire of some media (particularly the Press Herald) to portray Libby Mitchell as some kind of flaming left-wing radical. The enthusiasm gap should be a particular concern for us all. No one would argue that the last two years have gone as we would have wanted, given the disastrous recession, economic crisis and budget deficits that President Obama inherited. There are things that we would all like to see different, things we wish he had done. But there are also achievements we can be proud of, including passage of health care and financial reform. Yes, they are not everything that we wanted. But enactment of these reforms is a first critical step in creating a society reflective of Democratic values.
However we wish things had gone nationwide and in Maine, sitting home in November isn’t the answer. If we don’t spread the word of the disaster that awaits with a LePage administration (or, for that matter, a Republican Congress…) and don’t work to get everyone we know to vote, we will only have ourselves to blame for the disaster that will follow. We all have a role to play in creating the future we want for our state and nation. We have a great candidate in Libby Mitchell and we need to do everything we can to spread the word…phone calls, letters to the editor, volunteering…we can’t just wait for her campaign to go on the air with commercials and assume that will be sufficient. We need to be educating everyone we know about the stakes in this election and the role that we all have in defining our future.
This poll should serve as a wake-up call to us all, one that motivates us to do what it takes to elect Libby. This Sunday evening, we will have staff of the Maine Democratic party (www.mainedems.org) present at our meeting to discuss how we can support efforts to elect Democrats at all levels in November. In the words of John Kennedy, “if now us, who? If not now, when?”
Reid Scher, Chair