27 August 2016
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is time to speak up.
Since you first elected me to be your representative I have understood that you expected me to work diligently, collaboratively, and above all respectfully for the betterment and well-being of Maine.
As your elected representatives, my colleagues and I endeavor always to treat each other with the respect that is due directly to the citizens who vested each of us with their trust.
Because Governor LePage also was fairly elected twice by the citizens of Maine, I believe that he is due this same respect.
For two terms now, I believe that my record also will show that I have engaged the Governor and his agencies collaboratively searching in good faith to develop a common interest in making Maine better.
I am gratified to have found substantial success in those efforts many times and, like others, I am disappointed when earnest work on both sides has in the end proved unproductive. That is the ordinary and imperfect struggle of good politics.
However, I also understand that, more than just faithful functionaries, elected representatives must also serve both as the voice of their constituents and as conscience for the state as a whole.
In the last few days, in an escalation of disturbing incidents, Governor LePage impulsively declared not only that he wished to shoot my colleague Representative Gattine between the eyes but also that he believes that “Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers” and “Right now the enemy is …people of color.”
Irrespective of whether the Governor’s representing of Maine’s drug problem primarily in terms of race is sufficient evidence of racism, these declarations are wholly indefensible on their merits.
First, the Governor mis-frames Maine’s opioid epidemic merely as a victimization of Maine citizens by Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs.
Even if Governor LePage could emulate a Trumpian fantasy of walling off the Piscataqua and deny entry to Blacks and Hispanics, the well of demand would still draw the same river of criminal supply. Maine’s addicts would still suffer the daily ravages of their disease. Ordinary Maine families would still endure the terminal heartbreak from fatal overdoses.
Every day that the Governor remains blind to the understanding that drug addiction is a native pathology and not a racial conflict prolongs the tragedy and postpones the necessary comprehensive cure.
Worse, at a time when our state vitally depends on attracting newcomers and new businesses, the Governor’s own evolving pathology of scapegoating others for our native malaise risks Maine’s future by replacing our essential identity as a place of tolerance, opportunity, and cooperation with another poisoned by fear, bigotry, and mutual suspicion.
As a state, and as a nation, we seem at a cultural inflection point of self-understanding.
As Mainers and Americans, will we renew our traditional belief in the promise and mutual benefits of plurality? Or will we retreat into the tribal landscape that the Governor describes in which aliens are coming up the highway to kill us and in which we Mainers in fact are at war against an amassing force of people of color?
As recently as a week ago, I could have dismissed that nightmare image as a deranged fever-dream. But the Governor of our state has now declared this his reality through which he intends to lead. We can only take him at his word. To the nation today, this sounds immediately alarming.
Collectively, we are who we realize ourselves to be and history is the aggregation of the decisions constructing those realizations.
Our state is suffering. The work ahead is urgent and daunting but not yet out of reach. Our Governor has lost his way.
It is time for this Governor to resign.