What and who have we become? Have we lost all sense of decency and mutual respect? It seems that it has become a part of standard parlance to resort to “throw them in jail”. This pattern is especially alarming coming from Governor Paul LePage and his idol GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. This behavior is not what is to be expected of those who cast themselves as leaders, not our governor or Mr. Trump. Most of us can withstand adversity, but if you want to see a person’s true character, put him in a position of power.
Governor LePage has once again decided to cast himself in a negative spotlight, providing a discordant and disparaging view to the rest of the nation on the good people of Maine. His latest “un-leader like” endeavor occurred this past week when he went “ full metal jacket” against two of his fellow citizens, Ben Chin and Mike Tipping, both representing The Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive advocacy group standing for and promoting the passage of the Maine ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage. Because of their efforts and beliefs, Governor LePage chose to deal with their press conference by once again over reacting and stating that “they should be thrown in jail for what they’re doing to the elderly”. Mind you, the governor never mentioned what he is doing to Maine’s elderly population by his refusal to release a $15 million senior housing bond approved by 70% of Maine voters.
The governor went on to admit that his sometimes coarse vocabulary “needs improvement, and that he sometimes says things he shouldn’t. “If my grandmother were here, she’d have a bar of soap and make me chew it”. It’s too bad that grandma isn’t around today. Now in all fairness, we all have our core beliefs and the governor is no different in this regard. The problem for the governor is that he has no filter for what comes out of his mouth. He keeps forgetting Rule #1: if you don’t want anyone to know, don’t say it.
The idea of throwing people in jail simply because their beliefs do not mesh with your beliefs prompted me to take another look at the Constitution of The State of Maine, and in particular, Article 1, Section 4. This section of the Constitution explicitly refers to Freedom of speech and publication, libel, truth given in evidence and jury determination of law and fact. “Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish sentiments on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of this liberty; no laws shall be passed regulating or restraining the freedom of the press; and in prosecutions for any publication respecting the official conduct of people in public capacity, or the qualifications of those who are candidates for the suffrages of the people, or where the matter published is proper for public information, the truth thereof may be given in evidence, and in all indictments for libels, the jury, after having received the direction of the court, shall have a right to determine, at their discretion, the law and the fact.” There does not appear to be a clause stating that people should be automatically “thrown in jail”.
Governor LePage, to this day, has not learned the difference between management and leadership. You manage things, you lead people. Injustice never reigns forever. Hitting people over the head is not leadership, its assault. A guiding principle that the governor might want to remember is that if he showed a little respect, a little humility, a little more honesty and a little more integrity, he might be amazed at what could be accomplished for the common good of Maine citizens.