Here in Maine, we have had a six-year preview of what it looks like to be led by a facts-optional megalomaniac. Thankfully, ours has not had access to the nuclear codes. There is not a lot of evidence of surreptitious activity on our governor’s behalf by way of Russian interference. But by way of microcosmic previews into a Trump-like figure in executive office, Gov. Paul LePage has been tops.
And, for those who care to resist the regressive policies being touted and, to a large degree, threatened by the Trump administration, here’s is what I have learned in our time under LePage.
Don’t keep waiting for Trump to do something so outrageous people will wake up. They won’t. We kept waiting and waiting and waiting for this to happen in Maine, but it hasn’t happened. Earlier this month, LePage said that the NAACP should thank white people from the North “for fighting their battle.” No stir. It’s become normalized here. Now people know Maine for being a place where its leader can casually say and believe something like this with little notice or complaint from his constituents.
It’s becoming increasingly clear — and we have also seen the same phenomenon take root and solidify under LePage — that for the “true believers,” facts don’t matter. We know that Trump voters literally process facts, even when confronted with visual evidence, differently — likely as a means of justifying and substantiating their support.
There will likely not be an a-ha moment, and so waiting for this is waiting for a time that will never come. It is wasting time.
So, I was heartened to see the marches take place last weekend. Millions throughout this country and throughout the world stood up to the policies of a bully who flirts with bringing torture back into vogue and wasting billions on a wall that won’t work under the empty promise he’ll get Mexico to pay for it. Anyone who has heard “the check’s in the mail” should see these things for what they are, but again, for many who have already made up their minds, facts don’t matter.
So don’t worry about convincing people who have decided to be unconvinced. Get out there and keep raising hell. Keep resisting. Keep organizing. Do it because it works.
If we do not resist, and do so daily, and organize and disrupt, Trump will not be known as a blip, but as the first of many Trumps — or second, really, if you consider the preview in the form of LePage. Do not wait this out; it will only get worse. Lefties, moderates, Republicans who no longer recognize the party: Organize. Resist. Fight. And be clear about what you believe in.
Trump is terrifying, yes, but why?
Use your expressions of concern as a means of articulating what you believe is worth standing for. Transparency. Racial equity. Equality. Gender equity. Pluralism. Democracy. Truth.
Trump, like LePage before him, offends progress in these arenas and more. Let us sing and organize around what we believe to be good and worth the fight. Because supporters won’t hear it, but our children and fence sitters and others will, and we need to set the tone for what is good about America, not leave it to those looking to strip-mine it for profit (figuratively and literally).
Beyond all of this, get offline and get involved. Not everything has to be a protest. Join a bowling league or game night. Go back to church, or go to a contradance or a planning board meeting. It’s getting real; it’s time we get back together.
Trump and everything he represents will benefit by us fighting each other rather than organizing against them, and the most vulnerable will suffer because of it. Get out there. Be a good human. Be decent, but firm.
Most importantly, don’t wait — because waiting leads to normalizing the unacceptable, and we cannot afford that.
Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was a teenager. He’s an owner-partner of a Portland-based content production company and lives with his family, dogs and garden in Cornish.