OUR last post on this topic was Creationist Running for Governor in Maine, in which we wrote about Paul LePage, a creationist, who won the Republican primary and is now that party’s candidate in the Governor’s race. He’s also getting financial support from Mitt Romney — which is a serious hint that the GOP has no center — they’re all at the far edge.
In something called the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, an amalgamation of entities described here: Portland Press Herald, serving Portland, Maine we read LePage a mainstream conservative, but his opponents can’t admit it.
The article’s subtitle is quite informative: “Since liberals are a minority in Maine and the nation, they have to run as ‘moderates’ and tar their opponents as extremists.” That’s the concept we wrote about here: Alabama Madness: A Teachable Moment, where we said — and you can skip this if you’ve seen it before:
The Prime Directive in any election campaign must be to occupy the high ground, by which we mean preventing the undecided voters from favoring the opposition. This is done by avoiding the appearance of extremism and by labeling the opposition as the extremist. Doing this will assure that the undecided voters are at least neutralized. Additionally, a good number of them will support you.
Secure the center. Then — and only then — work on motivating the base. And be careful that in appealing to the base you don’t appear to be an extremist, for then your opponent will surely use that to woo the center away from you.
That’s enough of our Curmudgeonly ranting. But it’s also the subject discussed in today’s article from Maine. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
“Maine’s voters are moderate” is a universally accepted generalization, but it is not strictly true — if a February Gallup poll is accurate. It categorizes 36 percent of Maine’s voters as conservative and 23 percent as liberals. Only 38 percent of voters say they are “moderates,” while 59 percent come down on the left or the right. Around 3 percent evade any category.
Okay, so how does that work out with a creationist Republican in the race for Governor? Let’s read on:
It is true, however, that a candidate must attract moderate votes to win. In rough, round numbers, a Republican must hold a conservative base and pull in little more than a third of the moderate voters, while his Democratic rival’s liberal base must be enhanced by nearly 70 percent of them.
It should — normally — be smooth sailing for a Republican running statewide in Maine. But in this case? We continue:
These numbers explain why no Democrat ever runs for statewide office as a liberal, but always as a moderate or pragmatist. For the same reason no Democratic candidate, operative or media ally can ever recognize the Republican candidate as a “conservative.” He or she must be identified as a radical far-right extremist.
Correct. And now that the Maine Republicans have nominated a creationist, what’s going to happen? Here’s more:
It makes electoral sense for the Moody, Cutler and Libby Mitchell camps [two independents and the Democrat candidates] to represent Paul LePage as a far-right extremist, although his record as mayor of Waterville will be no use to them, unless tax-cutting by means of efficient management can be called extremist.
We can see where this is going, can’t we? Moving along:
His [LePage’s] opponents will get some mileage from the Republican’s answer to question about “creationism” in a debate. He did not propose this as a vital educational reform. He did not advocate removing evolution from the curriculum. He merely said that he would not oppose a local school board including such a component.
The newspaper is trying to minimize the issue, but will it work? In actuality, LePage “merely said” that he’s a creationist theocrat. That may work wonderfully in states like Alabama and Louisiana — but in Maine? Here’s one last excerpt:
It seems unlikely that any Maine school board would actually include a “creationist” or “intelligent design” curriculum component, but the slightest expression of doubt about the theory of evolution is regarded as heresy by quite a lot of people, so we can expect to hear a lot about this non-issue.
It isn’t a “non-issue” — it’s an indication of full-blown craziness. Maine ought to be a Republican state, even though they have “moderate” Democrat and independent candidates who can’t easily be described as extremists.
If LePage wins in that environment, the creationist-theocratic wing of the Republican party may become pretty much the whole game nationally. If he loses, maybe the party’s leaders will learn the lesson. The Governor’s race in Maine is well worth watching.
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