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Gov. Paul LePage’s Maine is rapidly becoming the vacation land where you’d never want to live. (Photo: AP)

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is Donald Trump's Noxious Canary

Pat LaMarche

You’ve heard of the canary used in coal mines to warn of impending hazards to the miners. The canaries were smaller and breathed faster so carbon monoxide and other toxic gases affected them more quickly than the humans and donkeys used to mine coal. Introduced to underground coal mining in the early 20th century, these birds were charged with alerting the miners in time for them to correct the problem or just get the hell out.

The canaries were only one kind of many sentinel species humans have used over the years to warn of various quagmires and dangers in their surroundings. The Japanese even used cats to indicate the presence of poisoned fish. Perhaps that’s a more apt analogy for Donald Trump’s presidential race and potential tenure in the oval office.

Anyway, Governor Paul LePage of Maine is now stationed in the coal shaft of U.S. politics. They don’t call Maine, and her neighboring New England states, the tailpipe of the country for nothing.  And there, breathing the exhaust from low wage earners, sits Gov. Lepage blazing an ugly trail through white mainstream America indicating just how safe it is for Donald Trump to mine the anger and resentment buried in the American psyche.

Paul LePage has returned a lot of valuable intelligence to Donald Trump:

Ok, to be fair, Gov. LePage only called Khzir Khan a con-artist after Donald Trump started insulting the man. But some days the canaries got to work after the first miners have gone into the shaft.

So using expletives, calling people names, making every argument about race and ethnicity, that’s repugnant. But you know, sticks and stones may break your bones but their words will never hurt them. Canary Paul has shown that there’s no poison in the poison speech he and Donald Trump are using. It’s not killing their careers. In fact, insulting the NAACP and the President of the United States only helped Paul get re-elected. The canary is thriving in his gaseous environment.

So we know why LePage’s super-sensory sentinel powers are most important—not for what they show us about speech—but for what Trump can learn about policy making. See, all of LePage’s distracting bloviating banter has covered the true noxious gas that could have or should have killed any other political career. LePage’s policies are failing. For five and a half years, Gov. LePage has robbed the poor of food stamps, mishandled federal monies, insulted and terminated the head of the national guard, put creationists in power over public education, practiced nepotism, and expanded his executive powers.

And has been the result?

LePage’s Maine is rapidly becoming the vacation land where you’d never want to live. Maine is the sole holdout nationally that hasn’t expanded the number of people insured since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The lack of exposure to adequate healthcare coincides with dramatically increasing infant mortality rates, expanded illegal drug use, and record high overdose death rates. Yes, my fellow Americans in the shaft, this is what a Trump administration could look like.

And what’s the result? Well, like any people trapped in a toxic environment, Maine’s population is declining. In fact, so few people want to live there that they are facing an unparalleled labor shortage. Yet LePage remains in power. And that’s the only intel the Trump campaign wants from their canary. This week, protesters gathered at the capital and called for LePage’s resignation. Tens of thousands have signed petitions asking the legislature to remove him. And yet he stays in power. LePage was a known volatile ineffective governor in 2014 and still he won re-election. As long as canary Paul is still fluttering in his shaft, Donald Trump knows that he could be president.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States" (Updated, 2020). Her novel, "The Magic Diary" (2019) is now available.

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