What is wrong with the Maine state legislature? Starting with Charles Robinson of Kansas in 1862, only 15 governors have ever been impeached, Rod Blogojevich (D-IL), currently serving out a prison term, being the most recent (2009). Another relatively recent impeachment and conviction was in Arizona in 1988 (far right crackpot and vile racist Evan Meacham). Maine has never impeached a governor but the legislature has threatened to impeach the current misanthrope several times and then never followed through.
LePage was elected twice, though never with a majority from the voters. In a 3-way race in 2010, he scored 37.6% of the vote and in 2014 he was reelected in another 3-way competition with 48.2%. He's vetoed nearly 100 laws– including bills to increase the minimum wage, bills to require the police to get warrants before spying on American citizens with drones and bills increasing penalties of people who torture animals. But those weren't among the reasons the legislature considered– however briefly– impeachment. The most recent was because of a threatening and obscene phone message he left for state Rep. Drew Gattine, which indicated to many that LePage had had a mental breakdown. The other almost-impeachment as when a charter school rescinded a job offer to Maine House Speaker Mark Eves (D) just days before he was slated to become the school's president, following a threat by LePage to cut off the school's funding if Eves became president.
And yesterday, LePage handed the state legislature further cause to consider how to get rid of him. This time it was an attack on American democracy itself, a hallmark of lowlife Trumpists everywhere in the country. LePage on WVOM Tuesday morning:
“Sometimes I wonder that our Constitution is not only broken, but we need a Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law because we've had eight years of a president– he's an autocrat, he just does it on his own, he ignores Congress and every single day, we're slipping into anarchy. I just think that four more years of a similar mentality is going to destroy this nation.”
The state legislature is split– the Dems control the House (78-69, with 4 independents) and the GOP controls the Senate (20 Republicans and 15 Democrats), so, unless Mainers deal the Republicans a mighty blow in November, there really is no way to remove LePage through impeachment. The most recent polling in Maine shows Clinton winning statewide by 4 points (40-36%, with Johnson and Stein splitting another 15%). But in Maine's more backward and rural 2nd congressional district, teaming with ignorant deplorables, Trump is ahead 48-34%. Statewide, a majority of Mainers (52%) give LePage a negative rating, though that was before he called for the installation of a racist dictatorship yesterday.
Tuesday, before the LePage news broke, Philadelphia Daily News columnist, Will Bunch, took a long hard look at Trump's and his followers' penchant for authoritarianism. “[H]alfway through Sunday night's second presidential debate between the GOP's Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton,” he wrote, “America unexpectedly instead got a horror show that was almost unreal: A new threat by Trump to grab at the sanctity of one of the basic tenets of our national democracy.”
In his desperate bid to change the conversation away from 2005 and Too Much Access Hollywood, the short-fingered vulgarian (has there ever been a better description?) trotted out several past sex-assault accusers of Bill Clinton, and then he emptied out his arsenal of anti-Hillary bombast as soon as the TV lights were turned on. It was beyond ugly, but he didn't cross over the line from threatening good taste to actually threatening the fundamentals of U.S. democracy until about 30 minutes in. That's when the subject of Clinton's private servers and her handling of her emails came up.
“I didn’t think I’d say this and I’m going to say it and I hate to say it. … If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception,” Trump said.
A moment later, Clinton said that “it's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.” Shot back Trump: “Because you'd be in jail.” A surprisingly large part of the gathering in St. Louis erupted in cheers — a haunting reminder of the one memorable moment in the otherwise forgettable Star Wars Episode 3: “So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.”
…Trump's groupies went wild at their hero's threat, posting their Hillary-in-prison memes up and down the corridors of cyberspace. But foreign policy wonks started instead thinking about war-torn, fragile African nations like the perhaps ironically named Democratic Republic of the Congo, where leaders routinely throw the leaders of opposition parties in jail.
I thought of the night six years when I drove up to Quakertown and watched Sarah Palin, the avatar of what would grow into Trumpism, tell boosters of a Christian school that “American exceptionalism is something that every generation has to be its own if we expect our Republic and our liberties to be secure and to live on.” But if you really want to push the theory of American exceptionalism, that our Republic is different from any others, you need to start with something that's actually been pretty exceptional…so far. And that's the peaceful transfer of power: Our unbroken streak of presidential elections, every four years — even in the midst of a civil war in 1864, and when some wanted Washington to assume dictatorial powers during the Great Depression in 1932– and our traditions of a) the losers accepting the results and b) the winners not seeking retribution.
Instead of making America great again, Trump wants a nation of crude and ever-bending laws, administered by a self-proclaimed “strongman.” And millions of voters are along for the thrill ride.
…[T]he real danger is that by going nuclear Sunday night to solidify his standing with those 20-25 percent of Americans on the right who've bounced from the John Birch Society to the Moral Majority to the Tea Party to Making America Great Again, he's has ripped the very fabric of this nation in a way that cannot be repaired. Within 24 hours of his performance, Trump backers have been hitting the streets with signs like “Trump That Bitch” and twists on Trump's feline descriptions of the female anatomy.
And that's the real takeaway from Sunday's debate– the scary one. Anyone who thinks they're waking up on November 9 and wiping this out of their eyes, like a 5 a.m. nightmare, is delusional. The impeachment calls from the far-right side of the House, the cries of a “rigged election,” and all the fear and loathing that goes with that…is just getting started. Sunday's debate wasn't the end of anything…nor was it the beginning. Just a massive escalation in the war for America's mortal soul.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis