Now that Governor LePage has warmly endorsed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for the Republican nomination for President for 2016, while Senator Collins has done the same for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, political operatives in Maine and elsewhere should work overtime to get LePage or Collins as Vice Presidential nominees should either Christie or Bush capture the GOP nomination. Indeed, why wait till the GOP convention meets? Why not promote those Mainers now?
Conventional wisdom, of course, argues for Vice Presidential nominees of very different stripes from Presidential ones, be it a matter of geography or political background or even, to some extent, ideology. But conventional wisdom isn’t always wise.
Christie and LePage are obviously both bullies, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, given the re-election of both to second gubernatorial terms. Many voters appreciate their “plain talk.” Both men enjoy denouncing their political opponents, shouting down ordinary citizens who dare to criticize them, and making various threats to persons and groups that might delay or stop their agendas. Moreover, both men don’t worry about the facts that might get in the way of making their points—something that, to be sure, extends to lots of other politicians from both major parties.
Both Christie and LePage love to demonize government workers, teachers, and other public employees. And both love to stir up traditional American fears of immigrants, distorting, at least in the case of Maine, the legal status of people coming here from the Third World–the “illegals,” as LePage and some of his Republican legislators wrongly and cynically term them.
Meanwhile Bush can claim family ties to Maine through his father, former President George H. W. Bush. Jeb himself has spent much time at Walker Point and is having built his own mansion on the property. No less important, both Bush and Collins are devoted to enriching the wealthiest Mainers and Americans overall. That is their foremost agenda. The facade of moderation that endears Collins to so many Mainers and makes her impossible to defeat fits in perfectly with Jeb Bush’s similar moderate facade. Given the presence of such extreme right-wing Republican rivals as Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, and Mike Huckabee, it is relatively easy for Jeb to continue to present himself as a safe and sensible choice, much as his older brother George W. Bush cynically did during his first White House campaign.
What also connects Jeb and Collins is moral cowardice that manifests itself in various ways. Most recently for Jeb, we have his refusal to denounce firmly, and in English–not just in Spanish–Donald Trump’s racist stereotypes of Mexicans and other Latin Americans coming to America. And let us not forget Collins’ belated endorsement of Maine’s already year-old gay marriage law last year as she campaigned against Shenna Bellows for re-election. (The endorsement of Collins over Bellows by a national gay rights organization was disgraceful, for Bellows had worked for years as Maine’s ACLU Director to pass the legislation.) Collins’ nonsensical argument that she couldn’t take a stand earlier because, as a U.S. Senator, she wasn’t involved in state legal issues like this, didn’t quite hold up as many other states appealed to the federal courts. In June 2016 Collins will probably endorse the Supreme Court’s new ruling and expect a “Profile in Courage” award.
If the state of Maine is ever to have another Vice President, following Bangor’s Hannibal Hamlin in Lincoln’s first term (and, alas, dropped from the ticket for the second term), it is time to get moving on behalf of Governor LePage and Senator Collins. July 4, 2015, would surely be a great deal to start.