Last last week, Politicus USA reported, Maine Lawmakers Move to Impeach Republican Governor Paul LePage. It sounds serious, “Governor LePage is accused of blackmailing the Good Will-Hinckley School board by threatening to withhold half a million dollars in funding if they extended a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mike Eves.” It’s really petty nonsense, so exactly what you would expect from Paul LePage. But what’s most important is that LePage is not popular in his state. He’s been twice elected president because (1) there have been three way races; and (2) they are off year elections when not many Democrats go out to the polls. In 2010, LePage got less than 38% of the votes cast; he did much better in 2014, but still only got 48% of the votes.
What’s more, whenever the people of Maine are asked, they don’t like the job that he’s doing. So sure: impeach him. Throw him out of office! And then what? He’ll just run again and the voters of Maine will re-elect him. Who knows? He might get a full majority in a new election. Clearly, Maine has a screwed up system. But it is hardly unique. I’ve written before about the tendency for blue and swing states to regret their recent governors — and even red states. It doesn’t seem to matter. On the day of the election, it’s a matter that “they’re all the same,” and then a couple months later, it is “I never imagined they’d do that!”
I’d love to see LePage impeached. God knows he deserves it. But ultimately, the people have to take responsibility. What LePage is doing — which he doesn’t deny — is entirely in keeping with what he’s done before. No one can reasonably claim that they are shocked by him. I suspect that the world gets rid of LePage the way that it got rid of Rob Ford. First LePage has to be caught on video tape using an illegal substance. Then his behavior has to get so bad that he checks himself into rehab. But note: Rob Ford may not be mayor, but he’s still on the city council. So maybe there is no way of getting rid of Paul LePage.
This, my friends, is how empires fall. We really do live in a post-truth world. Nothing matters — most of all policy. And on that count, I don’t really blame voters. For a good forty years now, they have watched as they have elected conservatives and “liberals” and nothing especially changes. Yes, things get modestly better under the Democratic Party than under the Republican Party. But it is easy enough to consider that a coincidence. And I really think we are at the point where most of what we once called the middle class look at the increased pain with a sense of schadenfreude — as though the pain of others makes up for their own pain.
So go ahead, Maine: impeach Paul LePage. But even if he is expunged from the good graces of the body politic, the blight he represents will go on. We will still live in a society that doesn’t think things can get better. We live with a system that makes voting difficult, and privileges the rich and the old — just incidentally the base of the conservative movement. We live with media that sees politics as a game devoid of meaning. It would take a kind of revolution of thought for the people to push back against that. I still hope. But I would find it shocking if it ever occurred.