The Hog and the Lion

Le cochon. French: pig, hog, swine.

Respectful. Honest. Insightful. These are words I wish I could use to describe my governor. Unfortunately, they do not at the moment, and they may not for another two years. While most Mainers are already on the same page about LePage, this had to be begrudgingly written for the rest of the world.

Painstakingly, I have observed and shared the most magnificent parts of our beautiful forested state. Now one man threatens to destroy that work single handedly. See, in Maine we know our governor is a bit of a shit-head. He belches out whatever split-second half-thought that manages to avoid the few filters he has. As far as I am concerned they are the last snorts of fascism in Maine. Desperate, racist and dwindling.

However, the rest of the world has now seen our leader standing up on some enchanted hate inspired soap box that can be seen from the Belgrade lakes to Belgrade, Serbia. Some of these people reading about him are hearing about Maine for the first time. As if I didn’t already have enough bad first impressions in my life. This insane sensationalism over hate speech has just got to stop. Apparently Donald Drumpf is not enough for the hate crazed media outlets.

We have already tried to impeach LePage, and perhaps next time we will make it happen. Any lost time we can get back from him would be for the better. The man has stood against real progressive change in this state for too long, from action to curb climate change to forgetting to vote for his own racist bills. However, there is no reason to show the rest of the world and the nation a man who does not even come close to representing anything about us or our state. He is our problem and we can more than handle it.

There are two lessons here.

First lesson; implement Ranked Choice Voting (Yes on 5). This will save us a lot of hassle in the future and avoid Vote Splitting (an electoral effect in which the distribution of votes among multiple similar candidates reduces the chance of winning for any of the similar candidates, and increases the chance of winning for a dissimilar candidate). There is no reason for an elected official to win because he just happens to be the only guy standing there with something different to say. Especially when that something different is ignorant and racist. This is the important lesson Maine has to offer the nation this November 2016.

Second lesson; the media has failed in their news coverage. It is not just enough to check the centers of power. Alternatives and movements against outrageous and completely inappropriate behavior also deserve coverage. However, the BBC had an article titled “Black people are the ‘enemy’ – US governor”. Clickbait if I ever heard of such a thing. It was at the top of their US news list when I saw it August 27th. When all those people clicked on it they saw which state’s governor that was. Unfortunately, the title did not read ‘Local American Non-profit keeps governor in check’. The Maine People’s Alliance is already working to put progressive democrats into office in Maine to counter the governor’s nonsense.

Then there is Comedy Central with their over-analyzing of every stupid thing that comes out of that Orange-blur of a maw. Yes, we need to be aware of clear and present dangers. But we do not want to blow it so far out of proportion. Collectively they have given him so much free press and probably a good many more votes. The more you attack and belittle him the more they love him and the deeper their Ostrich ears go into the sand. They will shout; the liberal media is on the attack again! It is the ultimate get out of using logic free card. What we need to be covering is the complete opposite. I want to see more articles about the women and men who stand up to counter such arrogant and exclusive acts.

For example, now that I have tricked you into reading a bit further with a trail of genuine and deserving insults for our blubbering governor you will get to learn about someone more deserving of attention in Maine. The world needs to know that our state is not going to be famous for having a racist governor, but for having an inclusive and fair society. So instead of swinging the camera at the guy with the hate slogans, let us focus on a more respectable up and coming Maine politician.

This November Pious Ali will be running for Portland City Council in Maine. Originally from Ghana, he moved to the United States in 2000 and has been in Portland for the past decade. He has continued to work within the Portland community to bring down barriers separating people economically, socially, and religiously. His civic engagement has been an inspiration for many and it even got him a seat on the Portland Board of Public Education in 2013. This is a man who understands how important education is to public society and for kids to be successful in their lives.

When I first met Pious Ali it was at a camping trip for the Maine Irish Children’s Program. The organization aimed to bring youths of the two conflicting communities in Northern Ireland to Maine for the summer to help build bridges and break down walls. For the American youths it was eye-opening just to realize an almost entirely white community would be at odds in Northern Ireland. To give us a bit more perspective we had a few lecturers and field trips, including a synagogue. It was up to Pious Ali though to teach us about Islam. This was a lecture I will always remember and appreciate. It was 2009 and for some reason Fox News wasn’t giving us any hints at what the Five Pillars of Islam might be. Living in a small coastal town in Maine there also were not too many Mosques around. I remember Pious being very calm, explaining things clearly and taking questions from some of us. He handled what was usually a pretty rowdy group of teens with ease. This is the kind community engagement I want to see an elected official be a part of. Not like some others.

On his website he advocates strong neighborhood schools, quality and affordable housing, and livable wages for a livable city. I definitely recommend checking out his profile even if you are not voting in Portland, as it may give you a better idea of what your local representatives could be saying and doing. This is exactly the kind of progressive and forward thinking policy I want to hear more about going forward and less about the other more boisterous politicians and their bizzaro-world blame game. Solutions work if we work on them together. When bi-polar party politics get in the way we all lose out so that two ideological organizational structures can simply continue to exist.

The point I am very simply trying to make here is for people to focus on the good and the positive. The more we focus on the bad the more it will seem normal until our entire community is so desensitized to hate and violence we just continue to let it happen. The other point I am trying to make is that Maine is not a state for hate. It is time we paid attention to the efforts and to those people who keep our community healthy, educated, together and safe.

One Maine family has already shared a video of their opposing views to LePage’s racism. They are asking others to do the same. Thanks to them we will hopefully be able to save some face and not have our state become a poster child for intolerance.

While many people are viewing his actions as nothing new, many still think that he has crossed a line this time. Both with threatening another politician with violence and claiming that people of color are the enemy. Some have become desensitized to his words of violence. They may think his words don’t really mean anything and he is just blowing hot air. Either way we cannot sit idly by. And while I am appalled that national media outlets would use his words as a catch line for more hits and views, it would be worse to ignore him. I sincerely hope Maine Democrats can do everything they can to get him out of office. We will not let his behavior become the norm in Maine.

People of planet earth, fear not Le Cochon of Maine. He will be gone soon. Perhaps sooner than we thought.  Maine is still a place where all are welcome to visit, join and participate.

But leave the hate at the gate.





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