Lewiston Mayor Bob MacDonald published an editorial in the Twin City Times last week, valiantly going to bat in defense of his buddy, Maine Governor Paul LePage. His argument is one we’ve all seen, repeated ad neauseam from almost every Republican in Maine these days.
LePage might be ugly, they say. He might be drunk. He probably shouldn’t be calling state legislators at home to call them “cocksuckers.”
But, god damn it. He’s speaking the Truth.
If Liberals, like me, were only stronger, better men, they argue, we’d face this Truth head on, instead of throwing our hands up, too offended to even hear what LePage is saying.
MacDonald informs me:
You have been pulled from your rosy world of manicured lawns and honey-sweet people and thrust into a more realistic world… [LePage] simply told the truth. He accurately stated that 90% of the out-of-state, gang-affiliated entrepreneurs that come into Maine to sell illegal and deadly opiates like heroin and fentanyl are black or Hispanic… The Left has been able to sissify the population. LePage is hardly sissified, and we should thank him for standing up for the disenfranchised citizens of Maine… [LePage] speaks for the hard-working common people, not the wine-sipping, cheese-eating, Prius-driving Maine elitists.
I haven’t had a drink in over five years. I’m not usually very disciplined about mowing my lawn. I drive a Subaru, not a Prius. However, I do love cheese. I mean, the jack cheese that the State of Maine Cheese Company makes in Rockport is beyond delicious!
But, remind me, Bob, how is my love of cheese even remotely relevant?
LePage’s comment doesn’t pull me out of my world.
As a recovered alcoholic actively doing peer support work with folks struggling against addiction and mental illness, this is my world.
I love hard conversations.
I’d love to round up some friends from the Recovery community and drive up 95 to come speak with you and Paul about addiction and Maine’s criminal justice system.
But, do you actually want to have a frank conversation about drugs and crime in Maine, or do you just want to call me a “sissy” and a “cocksucker”?
Do you genuinely want to talk about my friend who died last year from a heroin overdose?
Look, guys. I live here.
I’m not a tourist.
My friends are among the people dying. My community in Portland is among those getting ravaged. Everyday I see another load of people wash up at the Milestone detox on India Street, including plenty from decent families, their blood so full of opiates they can’t stop shaking.
You want to talk about who’s to blame for this suffering?
It’s a medical complex where it’s easy to get a script for pharmaceutical pain killers, but you can’t get meaningful long term care without going into debt.
It’s a job market where people work too many hours, for too little money only to feel miserable and disrespected at the end of the week.
It’s a government that has nothing but contempt for its constituents who are struggling the most, cutting vital services, like detoxes and community health clinics, again and again, and replacing them with the cold concrete of prison cells.
And, this big piece of truth that you insist I’m too much of a sissy to deal with, this 90% number?
It’s a lie.
There is no binder.
According to the FBI, only 15 percent of total drug-trafficking and manufacturing arrests in Maine 2014 were Black adults. The other 85 percent were white adults.
And even if the 90% had validity, which it doesn’t, all it would demonstrate is that 90% of people getting arrested for trafficking drugs are people of color.
It wouldn’t say anything about who’s actually guilty.
White “motorcycle clubs” bring enormous quantities of drugs into our state, but the vast majority of their drivers never even arouse suspicion. Crooked white doctors supply much of the rest. And when a Black guy from the Bronx is arrested with drugs in his car, I wonder what race his boss is?
Here’s what I see.
I see right-wing legislators like LePage and Macdonald blocking badly needed federal dollars for healthcare. I see these guys happy to send people to prison, but reluctant to help build a genuine community where people struggling with addiction and mental illness can actually find support and thrive. I see them protecting the abusive employers and property owners who are making life so desperate for so many Mainers.
So, yeah, Bob.
It takes a real grownup to own up to the Truth about what’s going on in our community and come to terms with what our personal part has been in it.
If you ever want to come eat cheese in my somewhat overgrown backyard, I’ve got a purple plastic deck chair with your name on it.