I’m not sure how I got on the mailing list for the Maine GOP Weekly Radio Address. I think it’s because I signed up for emails from my state representative, who happens to be a Republican (he’s a nice guy, and I remain hopeful he will switch teams someday), and presumably state party members all share email lists.

I don’t really mind being put on it, though – it’s good to keep an eye on all sides of the chess board. Most of the emails are fairly bland and nonpartisan anyway – news bulletins about hunting licenses and state resources that may be available and useful to constituents.

Last week’s address was by Rep. MaryAnne Kinney, R-Knox. One of her anecdotes started, “As I was checking myself out of Hannaford, I realized that, once again, I forgot my reusable bags in the car. This inconvenience got me thinking …”

Up until this point, I was pretty sympathetic to her plight. I’ve forgotten my reusable bags many times, as did my father before me. I can recall too many occasions where we would be walking into the Buxton Hannaford and he would stop, halfway across the parking lot, and just look at me. And I knew that look. That was the “oops” look. But Rep. Kinney continues – “How are other Mainers feeling about the additional burdens placed on them by the progressive-driven policies of legislative Democrats?”

Have you ever been walking out in the beautiful Maine wilderness and seen a plastic bag hanging off a tree, or ground into the dirt by the side of the road? I know I have. It’s gross, and reminds me of how careless and cruel humans can be. Single-use, petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastics are bad for our environment. They clog our waterways and choke our wildlife. There was a time when the Republican Party cared about the environment. The words “conservative” and “conservation” have the same etymological root for a reason. Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, for crying out loud. Nixon!

Rep. Kinney’s story ended: “That day, after checking myself out of Hannaford – with groceries overflowing my arms, and consequently falling to the ground – I realized that this cause and effect was a direct reflection of government help. My choices were to either be forced to pay a fee for simply trying to get my groceries to the car in a bag that was previously free, pay for more flimsy ‘reusable’ bags, or just carry them to the car. ”

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And they say millennials are whiny! While I certainly feel the pain of dropped groceries – it’s happened to me more times than I care to admit – she had a couple of other options.

First, she could do what I do and use the grocery cart (provided free of charge for use on the premises) to convey the groceries directly to her car’s trunk.

Second, the bag fee is 5 cents per bag. That’s one nickel. If you’re really hard up, there are usually a couple of pennies in the take-a-penny trays on the counter at Hannaford.

Third, the “previously free” plastic bag is one that would take decades to break down, and it wouldn’t decompose properly – instead, it would just turn into microplastic particles that would continue to pollute and sicken the environment, animals, and humans.

It might have been free, but it came at a cost. Isn’t it always Republicans who always say “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”? Well, there’s no such thing as a free single-use plastic bag. Kinney is a literal farmer and member of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. That’s the sort of person who, regardless of politics, has a pretty vested interest in keeping our land and soil healthy.

I’m a bisexual woman from rural Maine. I have a whole barrel of reasons to be distrustful of expanded government power. I don’t relish more laws and rules and regulations. But I do believe government is the only force in our society that can stand up to and reign in concentrated wealth.

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Left to their own devices, businesses have absolutely no reason to care about how much unrecyclable junk they create. Businesses care about making money. That’s it. Money over everything and anything else. But a government where regular, not-wealthy people have an equal say, might have other priorities – for example, not seeing garbage by the side of the road all the time.

Without a government of the people, by the people and for the people, where everyone’s vote and voice has equal power, we would basically be stuck with a weird modern form of feudalism, where a tiny minority of lords of the manor control the vast majority of resources and keep the peasants downtrodden and broke.

Government can’t fix every problem and it shouldn’t try. But government can reduce the number of plastic bags caught in shrubbery, and that’s a good start.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @mainemillennial


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