While (nearly) all of Maine’s citizens would agree that we live in a democracy, neither our governor nor Maine House Republicans endorse that. They are telling us, essentially, “The majority rules – when we want it to. When we don’t want it to, then we refuse to bow to the majority.” Hence the loggerheads in Augusta today.

Maine citizens – by majority vote – passed three citizen initiatives that Gov. LePage and House Republicans don’t like and, therefore, refuse to support: Clean Elections, MaineCare expansion and the increase in the minimum wage. Incredible work was invested in those three initiatives because the Legislature refused to act. Yet even when citizens acted, and voted, those politicians can’t stand it.

Alas, this effort to disenfranchise citizens is occurring all across our country, backed by the philosophy of limited government advocated by economist James M. Buchanan and the Koch brothers. As historian Sam Tanenhaus noted in a 2017 book review in The Atlantic: “In 1973, well before the term ‘counterestablishment’ was popularized, Buchanan was rallying like-minded allies to ‘create, support and activate an effective counterintelligentsia’ that could transform ‘the way people think about government.’ ”

LePage and the House Republicans probably wish people would think about government as limited to its pre-1800 franchise: white, property-owning males. At least, based on their attitude toward Maine voters, it appears that that’s the “democracy” they would like.

Chalmers Hardenbergh


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