Sunday Morning~What happened to my state?

After my ex finished graduate school we decided on one more adventure before settling down. We were living in Connecticut and the pace was way beyond anything we wanted to subject ourselves to permanently. It seemed like first graders were already competing for places at Harvard or Yale and we couldn’t stand it. We had a romantic vision of sitting under a palm tree reading to our children and letting them run wild, being children and not mini-adults.

We knew we would settle in Maine, and had already bought a piece of property. Since I wanted mountains, he wanted ocean, and we both wanted New England, Maine made sense. And Maine had George Mitchell! Margaret Chase Smith! Thinkers! Advocates! States people! We imagined the great minds that lifestyle would produce.

We had spent a year traveling up the coast checking out communities for just the right fit. As we crossed the bridge onto Mt Desert Island, we both agreed it already felt good.  And it was. It’s a unique and beautiful place. It’s got the National Park, an artistic community, a scientific community, and small town values we shared. And at the time, land was affordable. We bought some.

One of our concerns about raising a family there, however, was that Maine is a racially homogeneous state. We worried about raising our children without racial diversity, though there is great socio-economic diversity. We had the idea that living overseas and having our kids go to a local school would help them understand what it’s like to be a minority. That it would foster compassion and inclusiveness. So we took off to Samoa for two years and the kids went to the local school there. There were many times when we wondered if we were doing the right thing. Our kids were scared to go to school. Other kids made fun of them. They couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying. This was to be expected, but it was hard to see our children struggling with it. We hoped we weren’t screwing them up forever. Over time they adjusted and made friends. We looked at it as an adventure and hoped their running wild in the jungle made up for the stress they felt at school. They seemed like they were having fun, and I don’t remember a single machete incident.

After two years in the tropics, we moved to Maine where we got used to having cold hands again. We settled in and built a house.  We raised our children and launched them into the world. Their father launched himself into a different world, but the place remains home. The problem now is the ugly twisted turn the politics have taken in the state. What happened to people? How did such an ignorant, racist man make his way to the governor’s mansion? Twice! It scares me. I wonder if it would have prevented us from moving there, had he been the governor back then.  I think it might have.

I get the fear mongering, the out of state money that paid for ads, and the general swing in politics in the country as a whole.  But come on. Blatant racism and misogyny? What year is this? I tried to imagine who would actually vote for that man and I discovered I knew people who did! It was shocking!

When a friend started dating after her divorce, she mentioned her anxiety about getting into a new relationship. She mused about the differences between them and his dating record.  It was girls night out and we were gently encouraging her to go for it! Take a risk!  He’s handsome! He’s smart!  He’s got a great job! You only live once! She leant in to the center of the table, elbows bent, and said in a low voice, “He voted for LePage.”

“Dump him”, we all said. “He’s an idiot.”