Paul Lepage Isn’t What You Think, Not Entirely
This much is true, Paul LePage, governor of Maine has likely had better weeks. The stanch conservative governor has a reputation of having the tact and demeanor, not to mention the beliefs, of Archie Bunker. LePage is riddled with cartoons. He is an overblown embodiment of a racist republican blowhard, verbalizing what liberals surmise people like Lepage are thinking. LePage ditches pesky euphemisms and just lobs grenades anywhere he can. It’s what makes him oddly endearing. Last October, the governor made national news when he was lamenting all the “drug dealers from New York delivering heroin and impregnating white girls” to his beloved Maine. Lepage became America’s filter-less uncle embarrassing us at a holiday dinner while trying to impress a new girlfriend. His press office scurried about to come up with a statement but what can you say after a statement like that?
I imagine his young and well-meaning press staff cringing at the sight of cameras and slapping their foreheads yet again. It’s almost comedic to guess what LePage says when he isn’t around an open mic. I have a feeling he is hilarious, though not to everyone. LePage hates heroin, really, really, hates it. More than hating the wreckage and devastation heroin causes, he seems to resent having to deal with it. Maine is seriously addled by the stuff and not just because of NY drug dealers taking a trip up there, dropping of some heroin, having a lobster and finding time to impregnate a white girl. LePage acts like the heroin problem is something that is very personally being done to him to tarnish picturesque Maine.
LePage stepped in it again last year when he vetoed a bill that would allow for Naloxone, an easy to administer drug which will save a person overdosing on opiates, to be sold without a prescription. His rationale was that naloxone doesn’t save lives because they will just overdose and die soon enough. Again, the compassion less racist fat governor stereotype is hard to disprove. Effectively what LePage is saying is “don’t bother with fire extinguishers, because they will burn the house down anyway”. As much as I wanted to just dismiss LePage as what he proves himself to be, time and time again, I looked deeper and found some confusing characteristics, way out of range for a boorish, fat, GOP governor.
LePage is a child of alcoholism. So, severe were the systematic beatings and horrors of living in an alcoholic home, he left with no place to go at a preadolescent 11. The long reaching tentacles of alcoholic homes are hard to shake and many people adapt and learn survival rather than grow and develop. People from alcoholic homes have a few outcomes, one is they become alcoholics, another is they marry alcoholics. Another is they mask their alcoholism by hiding behind what they think of as people who are lower than they are. This seems to be the case with LePage. He looks like a drinker to me, maybe he’s not but it’s possible that he needs a scapegoat to rationalize his own behavior and drug dealing whit girl impregnating New Yorkers will do just fine. Traumatic childhoods will do strange things to people and while it doesn’t excuse his comments or sentiments, maybe it helps explain them a bit. LePage has also taken in and treated as a son a young Jamaican boy. A true racist with a deep belief in inferior races wouldn’t do that. There isn’t much written about the relationship but from all accounts, LePage did it to help another human have a chance in life, a very charitable ethic and operationalizing his Catholic faith.
The governor is at it again, stating that he wants medicinal cannabis taxed. Compassionless to say the least. Does this make sense to people? Why would the governor want to make medicine less accessible? Likely, the governor doesn’t think that cannabis is medicine. Interestingly, Maine hasn’t raised taxes on alcohol since 1986. Le Page would do better to have tax reform on “intoxicating substances” which would allow him to tax recreational cannabis but leave medicinal cannabis alone. It would also offer a chance to revisit the taxes on alcohol. Herein, likely lies the issue, the powerful alcohol lobby. As of writing, the Governor’s press office didn’t respond to the simple question “does the governor drink alcohol”?
I want to hate Paul LePage, he says despicable things and does exactly what I spend much of my life fighting against–the marginalization and public shaming of people with addictive disease. For some reason, I can’t hate him. I’m reminded of Atticus Finch and his caution to reserve judgement. Maybe it’s the traumatic childhood, maybe it’s adopting a kid in need or maybe it’s just his blunt honesty. I don’t have to agree with what he says to respect that he has the willingness and chutzpah to say it. I kind of think of him as the guy in the back of the room at an AA meeting that nobody likes but me. What’s great about those guys is often they are happy with returning their serve with the same vigor. So, governor, you’re a racist and your policy on addiction is reprehensible and it’s killing people. The idea that you would veto a bill that would save lives because you find those lives meaningless is absurd and inconsistent with your Catholic faith and ethic. Give me a call. I’ll be “meathead” and you can be “Archie” and we can have it.
Author: Joe Schrank, Editor-in-Chief