This paper ran a thoughtful editorial last Sunday about Gov. Paul LePage abandoning his responsibilities as governor. It described him as out of touch and “intellectually lazy.” I’m afraid that the problems with LePage go far beyond laziness, and they seem to be getting worse.

Three years ago, I wrote a column about LePage that tried to focus on him as a person rather than a politician. LePage is a familiar character to me because we both grew up in poverty in a Franco-American community. And I suspect we both learned that coming out of poverty intact and unscathed is a tough thing to achieve.

Communities struggling with poverty, contrary to what some people believe, are full of hard-working people determined to make their lives better. But they also include neighbors, friends and sometimes family members who have given up, are weakened by alcohol, drugs and rage, or who are getting by through scams or worse.

LePage, I said then, is like some of the characters I remember. They are the loud and pushy “Mon Oncles” of the neighborhood, the larger-than-life characters who arise in small and powerless places and are accustomed to being heard and getting their way.

Many of these boisterous characters become very successful in life. Others never escape their anger and frustration. In a few rare instances, the two qualities of success and rage combine in one person who should never have access to power. That, to me, is the Paul LePage story.

In 2013, I urged his family and friends to consider a “family intervention” before his impulsive words gave way to even more destructive actions. There’s a chance that happened, because LePage was remarkably well behaved during the campaign. But it didn’t last long.


Once LePage won re-election, all his worst traits seemed to be unleashed. He became energized by a false sense of grandeur that quickly produced a torrent of revenge against his enemies, including within his own party. That intoxication with power has produced some astonishing missteps.

At a time when LePage had as much political capital as he’s ever had, he managed to squander it with stunning ineptitude. His grand plan to eliminate income taxes, launched without any consultation with other Republican leaders, was not only dead on arrival in the Legislature but also caused a continuing rift within the party.

LePage then reacted exactly as angry people do when anyone challenges them. He got angrier and began attacking wildly in all directions. He became more out of touch and more dictatorial. Eventually, he proclaimed that he’d given up on Augusta and, from now on, would circumvent the Legislature to govern by referendum.

To promote his ideas, LePage launched a series of “town meetings” around the state that seem to have little purpose other than to take him back to the glory days of the last election – and to belittle legislators in front of the very people who elected them. That strategy has been a dismal failure.

LePage managed to embarrass himself at many of those meetings, with new outbursts occurring nearly every week, and he couldn’t even secure enough signatures to get his proposals on this year’s ballot.

Now everything seems to be snowballing out of his control. He’s lost nearly all credibility in the Legislature. He’s gotten the speaker of the House fired from his private job, which has led to a lawsuit. He’s even threatened to call out the National Guard to fight drug abuse, whatever that means.


In just the last month, he’s called upon gun owners to engage in vigilante justice against drug dealers, refused to deliver the traditional State of the State address to the Legislature and made himself the commissioner of education.

LePage is, in many ways, falling apart before our eyes. While his supporters can’t see it because they’re too busy enabling him, LePage is exhibiting all the signs of a “Mon Oncle” in need of help. We don’t know what’s causing that to happen. It could simply be uncontrolled rage or something more serious. But we can certainly see the consequences.

It’s too late now for a family intervention. And the Legislature is blocked from intervening by partisan gridlock over who wins or loses, regardless of the cost to Maine.

If LePage continues on this path, I fear he will simply self-destruct, in slow motion, over the next few years. While I’d hate to see that happen to anyone, my greater fear is that LePage, whether intentionally or not, is taking Maine down with him.

Alan Caron is the owner of Caron Communications and the author of “Maine’s Next Economy” and “Reinventing Maine Government.” He can be contacted at:

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: