MACHIAS — The national monument tango and the presidential primaries have combined to create a surreal mix of reality show, drama and fantasy. It’s a depressing but addictive political and cultural opioid.

‘NORTH WOODS LAW’

It is a foregone conclusion that President Obama will designate Roxanne Quimby’s northern Maine holdings as a national monument sometime after the November election. The president has frequently demonstrated his willingness to use – and push – executive power.

There is ample precedent for such environmental policymaking. The listing of Atlantic salmon as an endangered species was announced by the Clinton administration in exactly that manner in November 2000, after the George W. Bush-Al Gore presidential election.

‘HOUSE OF CARDS’

Our congressional delegation has been maneuvering to support, oppose and/or negotiate the national monument designation.

Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, reflect the positions of their parties, districts and challengers. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, are not park supporters, but they are not opponents either.

Both have long touted their green credentials. Neither will be on the ballot again till 2018 at the earliest.

Their principal objective is to negotiate the best terms of surrender possible and not get blamed for it.

They might make a cluck or two on the Senate floor after President Obama signs the monument order, but it’s more likely that they will call a lightning community forum at the University of Southern Maine, where only park/monument supporters are on the stage.

Gov. LePage has a bill in to reverse transfers of property if it is designated as a federal monument. It is at least something, and a bipartisan effort at that.

The bill has the virtue of increasing transparency, showing voters where their representatives stand.

But its prospects in the Legislature – and in the federal courts, if it comes to that – don’t seem promising.

‘THE APPRENTICE’

Gov. LePage has played another long shot as well: He endorsed Donald Trump, the likely Republican presidential nominee. Mr. Trump and Gov. LePage are similarly outspoken and politically incorrect.

Before endorsing Trump, Le-Page had stated he was “not a big fan” of the candidate, which is not an uncommon response from limited-government, Constitution-minded voters. But a long shot is better than no shot.

Trump has picked up the class warfare card tossed out by the left and turned it around, galvanizing frustrated voters against the political class. Gov. LePage has experience at that card table.

‘GAME OF THRONES’

Both the Democratic and Republican Maine caucuses showed the power and limits of parties, principles, fear, mistrust and anger. Fear of Trump fueled Ted Cruz’s victory; a lack of trust in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fueled Sen. Bernie Sanders’ win. Both front-runners have extremely high negatives, which bodes well for the media, if not for the country.

If Clinton is not indicted and she wins the election, the monument is a done deal, and Collins and King can negotiate the park treaty.

Maybe one of the concessions is that the 2ndDistrict gets to continue to exist regardless of the 2020 census results. That would probably make Emily Cain happy.

If Donald Trump wins the election, he might take the counsel of his loyal bannerman Gov. LePage and try to reverse Obama’s order, but federal ownership and control are not easily undone.

If President Trump has the same relationship with Congress that Gov. LePage has with the Maine Legislature, legislative fixes seem unlikely. President Trump is likely to use executive power as much as if not more than President Obama.

In 2018, Sen. King will be challenged, probably by Gov. LePage and a Democrat to be named later. Sen. Collins will almost certainly be running for the Blaine House.

A President Clinton will have appointed at least two Supreme Court justices, who may be ruling on several challenges to the Quimby National Monument.

A President Trump will – well, it’s not clear what President Trump might be doing. It doesn’t seem likely it would involve limited government and less crony capitalism, but whatever it is, it will be terrific, strong, beautiful and yuuge.

Next season will begreat.

 


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