Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Maine Moves Further Left

Behind our house in Maine
When I moved to Maine from Massachusetts in 1977, Democrats ran things. As the new Director of Special Education for the Fryeburg School District SAD 72, I traveled around the state to attend workshops and meet with state officials trying to bring Maine into compliance with federal law under the new US Department of Education just forming in the Carter Administration. 

Joe Brennan
With longish hair, beard, and Irish surname, Maine officials correctly assumed I was a fellow-traveling Democrat and tried to enlist my help go elect Joe Brennan governor. In Maine, as in Massachusetts where I grew up, Irish Americans took naturally to politics — nearly all of them Democrats. At our dinner table growing up, politics were discussed nearly every evening. It was in my blood.

But I’d had enough of electoral politics by 1977. My work with John Kerry’s unsuccessful 1972 congressional campaign had soured me. He spent more money than any other candidate for Congress in the entire country. I had rubbed elbows with lots of deep-pocketed lobbyists and supportive celebrities at fundraisers and it all left a bad taste in my mouth. All my previous experience had been in state and local races, but the Kerry campaign gave me a feel for big-time Democrat politics. I didn’t like it.

I still paid attention by reading the Boston Globe, watching WGBH, and listening to NPR, but my worldview was well left of those outlets at the time. I consumed every detail of the Watergate Scandal as it unfolded and voted for Carter in 1976. I worked on a community newspaper with Saul Alinsky radicals transplanted from Cambridge to Lowell, but I longed to move away from an increasingly urbanized Greater Boston and head to northern New England.

With job offers from Brunswick, Augusta, and Fryeburg, I chose the latter because mountains captivated me more than the coast. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my personal politics were changing. I was slowly modifying my world view in a push/pull process. The Democrat Party and public education were both moving leftward while conservative explanations of how the world functioned seemed less hard-hearted and more realistic compared to liberal narratives. 

As I crossed what might be called the “moderate middle” sometime in the early to mid-nineties, my movement rightward accelerated and I voted Republican from 1996 onward. Regular readers of this column will be surprised to learn that Saul Alinsky’s actually made sense to me forty years ago. I can hardly believe it myself. In 2019 Maine Democrats are where I was in 1974 — on the radical left.

Democrats who took over Maine last November are quite different from the comparatively moderate, Joe Brennan Democrats of the 1970s. Last summer they were outraged when Senator Susan Collins cast the deciding vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Some opened a crowdfunding campaign to which millions were pledged and would go to a candidate challenging her in 2020. By October the fund surpassed $3.5 million, “… not an insignificant amount for a political race in a state with one of the smallest populations in the country (1.3 million),” said the Washington Post. Then last week, a headline in the Washington Free Beacon caught my eye: “‘Queer Feminist Mermaid’ Surfaces to Challenge Susan Collins.”

I wish I were kidding but I’m not. US Senate candidate Bre Kidman was: “politically mobilized by the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight,” according to the Free Beacon, and “hopes to be the first gender nonbinary queer elected to the U.S. Senate… On Facebook, Kidman is described as a ‘criminal defense attorney by day and radical fat queer/performance artist/model/musician/activist most other times.’” So far, she’s the only declared Democrat candidate.

Bre Kidman
Since 1992, Republicans were in control only during 2011 and 2012. Every other year, Democrats controlled the House and often also the Senate and the Blaine House as well. For nine years over that span, Democrats controlled all three. For another eight, the allegedly Independent Angus King was governor but behaved as a liberal Democrat — just as he does now in the US Senate.

In complete control again in 2019, Democrats want taxpayers to fund abortions and allow nurse practitioners and midwives to perform them. They want a forty-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline, kerosene, and home heating oil to pressure Mainers to reduce consumption, but outraged citizens filled the hearing room and an overflow room objecting. The bill failed and a study will be done instead but expect another vote on it next session.

Democrats also want to renew state reimbursement for General Assistance welfare benefits paid to non-citizens that Governor Lepage squashed. A respite from Democrat control was brief under LePage, but Democrats are back and more “progressive” than ever.


Nick Peace said...

I did not know you were a Democrat in your younger days. That is interesting. So what made you change? It's still not clear from your article.

Seems to me that Democrat= idealist = wants everybody to be equal; and that Republicans = realist = okay with differences in equality.

People can transition from idealist to realist over the course of a lifetime (or I suppose even back and forth).

(*religion complicates things and throws a wrench into what could otherwise be explained largely by economics and class differences)

Tom McLaughlin said...

"So what made you change?"

It's a long story, Nick. If you're interested, there's a chapter from a never-published book you can look at.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, I read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in the 70’s and Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” in the early 80’s and never looked back to my hippie-dippie days. There’s no question that the Dems of today have moved further Left and are taking the Millennials with them.

I heard a quote that there is no “us vs. them” anymore with regards to the old Soviet Union. They were our enemy and for good reason. Political ideologies become blurred and softened when they’re not clearly understood. It’s fashionable to be a socialist these days because many people regard the government as Santa Claus. The takeover of the public schools by the Left was critical to achieving this.

I’m convinced that since the Left controls pop culture and the language things don’t look good for conservatives. We could fight back by calling Dems communists and addressing them as comrades such as Comrade Gideon. Unfortunately, she and the rest of her ilk would wear that moniker as a badge of honor.

CaptDMO said...

Director of Special Education....?

My work with John Kerry’s unsuccessful 1972 congressional campaign ....
I had rubbed elbows with lots of deep-pocketed lobbyists and supportive celebrities at fundraisers...?
Missed a career challenge opportunity?

I can only imagine* the bitter resentment among SOME of your peers in the education teaching/administrative industry, when instruction of impressionable adolescent evolved from mandatory "THIS IS WHAT THAT MEANS!!!!!" into ""So....WHAT does this mean to you?", followed by "How does that square with what that OTHER "source" said?"

(* A polite lie for civility/decorum sake. I don't have to imagine.
Of course, Your Results May Vary)

CaptDMO said...

Awww DANG!, I'm getting old. Forgot the attribution quotation marks for excerpts above, sorry.

Brian said...

The President of the United States repeatedly lying about Puerto Rico getting 91 Billion dollars in aid is just more proof of what a complete a$$hole he is.

Congratulations to Alex Cora for showing some class in skipping the circus.....Go Red Sox!!!