They don’t call them parties for nothing. A majority of the Republicans still standing at the end of this year’s convention reminded us that they can really be a lot of fun.

That’s why they junked a boring list of principles and priorities that made up the party platform and traded it for a blazing four-page manifesto, which put Maine on the national map as the latest beachhead of the national Tea Party and Ron Paul movements. It even praises the libertarian Texas congressman by name.

So while the seven men running for the party’s gubernatorial nomination stayed more or less on the bedrock, economically conservative Maine Republican message at the convention last weekend, whoever wins the primary will be running on a platform that puts quite a few new issues in play.

Jobs and the economy?

Sure, but let’s fight against “One World Government” first.

Reform K-12 education?

Maybe, but a higher priority really should go to rejecting the U.N. Treaty on the Rights of the Child.

Lower the cost of electricity?

That’s not in the platform, but continuing to investigate the now-defunct community organizing group ACORN is.

In a system where candidates run on their own issues, party platforms don’t mean much. Platforms are usually so boring they don’t get any attention once the campaign starts.

This one sets the bar of silliness so high that it has been featured in national news stories as a bellwether of where the country might be headed and could have a little longer shelf life.

So while it might be fun for the people at the convention who pushed this through while the moderate Republicans stayed home on a rainy Saturday, its adoption can’t sit too well with a candidate who thinks he has a chance of surviving until November and may be wondering if he’ll be answering questions about 10th Amendment Sovereignty rights or the Law of the Seas Treaty when he really wants to talk about taxes.

If there were any Greens or Democrats struggling with whether to change their registration to Republican by May 21 so they could vote in the primary, their decision just got a lot easier. If you think global warming is a hoax, come on over. Otherwise, stay where you are. You are not welcome.

This is just partisan politics in Maine, and it’s not just a problem for the Republicans. Two years ago, in a crowded primary field, most of the Democratic candidates for Congress, including eventual winner Chellie Pingree, pledged to use their first month in office to impeach President George W. Bush — or at least Vice Pesident Dick Cheney — a few weeks before they would have had to leave anyway. The idea was to get some votes from the pro-impeachment group in the primary, and then hope everyone would just forget about it. They did.

The problem is more acute for the Republicans, however. Only 28 percent of voters are registered in the GOP, and in the last race for governor, state Sen. Chandler Woodcock finished with 30 percent of the vote. For a Republican to win, it looks like he or she would have to appeal a little farther from their base than that.

Some Republicans can do that, but they haven’t had to win a primary in a long time. Olympia Snowe got 70 percent of the vote when she last ran in the 2006 general election, and Susan Collins collected more than 60 percent in 2008 — both clearly aided by people who cross party lines.

With that track record, one of the few planks in the GOP platform that would have any effect in Maine is truly remarkable. Instead of going after Democrats, the new strategy for Republicans appears to be cannibalism.

Under the new platform, the party of Snowe and Collins now advocates a law limiting terms in Congress to no more than 12 years, which would knock out both of the current incumbents, who are each serving their third 6-year term. Oh, and by the way, ladies, forget about your pensions.

The two senators are not popular with the crowd that got the new platform adopted.

These folks like to grumble that Snowe and Collins are not “real Republicans,” which is another way of saying that they are the only kind of Republicans that can win a general election in Maine.

Candidates who have the ability to appeal to the same pool of moderate and independent voters — look out, Peter Mills — may never get a chance to reach the general election if the base turns out to be as influential in the primary as it was at the convention.

Things change so fast that there is no way of knowing what kind of issues will resonate with voters in November. It might just be that people will be looking for a governor who would return us “to the principles of Austrian economics,” as the new platform demands, instead of one who would best manage the state budget.

But this is not about winning. It’s about having fun. It’s a party, right?

Greg Kesich is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6481, or

[email protected]


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