I have been wrestling with the question of when it might be reasonable to say good bye to Governor LePage. There is a long history in American government and politics of voters and other politicians stopping their concern about what a national or state Chief Executive may say or do when they cannot be re-elected to their current Executive office. Lame duck Presidents and lame duck Governors have become a cliche. The issue is one of timing.
I am tired of Governor LePage’s inability to actually govern. Tired of being afraid that when I open a news website or read the paper I will be yet once again confronted with some remarkably embarrassing statement by the Governor of the State of Maine. Tired of Governor LePage picking yet another stupid fight with the Legislature or even with his own appointees to state government positions. So tired of listening to him rage and whine that no one else in the State but Paul LePage gets anything right about the issues we confront.
Is it time for everyone to simply stop paying any attention to the Governor? Why not? About the only thing that he has consistently said for six years for which he deserves credit is that spousal abuse should not be tolerated. After that, he has said and done little or nothing of any substance and the state has managed to teeter along without him. On occasion, he has brought the processes of state government to a halt by refusing to sign some obscure document in furtherance of some personal policy belief that the clear majority of Maine people support, but there is nothing that the electorate or the Legislature can do about it, so ignoring him now would not change that.
Periodically, the Governor, and at his direction his Department heads, stop talking to the Legislature anyway. Legislative leaders could just stop trying to read tea leaves from his radio talk show ramblings or asking what he thinks about a particular piece of legislation. If he has something he would like to say he could have someone write a memo for him to send them. His Department heads could communicate with the Legislature as they have on numerous occasions over the last six years, despite Gubernatorial edicts to the contrary, by back channels and memos. This is not a desirable method of communication in a democracy but it helps keep the store open. The Legislature can enact bills and budgets, and vote his vetoes up or down, and those bills he does not veto or sign become law. And, if he wants to sign a particular piece of legislation into law, more power to him.
The point here is that despite all the noise he has made and anger he has generated, Paul LePage is a cipher as a Governor. In now going on seven years there are no substantive changes in Maine or in Maine state government that have been the result of initiatives put in place by Paul LePage. He has nibbled on the edges of a few activities which he has targeted, such as food stamps and health care coverage and caused no little pain for many in doing so, but the basic thrust and form of those programs has not changed. He has ranted about electric costs but has neither put forth a organized plan to address electric costs or even taken up the cause for a major north south high voltage and high volume transmission line from the County down to southern Maine to move Canadian power into all of Maine. He might not yet have achieved the status among Maine Governors as James Buchanan has as the most useless of American Presidents, but he is pretty close.
I say, lets just say good-bye to Paul LePage. From now until his legal departure in December of 2018, we can just ignore him. He had his chance as a two term Governor to achieve some good things for Maine. He has failed. Lets just put him on the shelf now and hope that a better Chief Executive for Maine is the result of the 2018 Gubernatorial election.
Good bye Paul. Best of luck.