The Maine GOP’s barbaric yawp.

Yes, Ezra Pound’s from Idaho it’s actually Walt Whitman, and I’m an idiot.

[UPDATE] Welcome, Instapundit readers.

It must be admitted that when I read this particular article:

In a move that seemed to surprise many members of Maine’s Republican Party, a group of tea party-style activists redefined the party platform at the convention Saturday.

After the vote, in which a vocal majority supported a wholesale replacement of language worked on by the party establishment since at least January, a string of delegates congratulated Horatio “Ted” Cowan III, a retired marine electrician from Rockland who wrote the adopted amendment.

…I mostly snickered at The Outrage over what happens to be a fairly straightforwardly party platform that should have a good deal of appeal to conservatives, libertarians, and populists. I personally would have argued the hard line on illegal immigration and same-sex marriage, but the former is an argument over tactics and 53% of the voting population of Maine disagrees with me on the latter anyway.   So, really, business as usual, nice to see that the Ron Paul people were actually participating in local party structures like we had been asking them to do throughout all of 2008…  and, yeah, Maine’s lost to conservatism, so let them have their fun.

Then I read a few more details of what actually happened.

To begin with – and somewhat contrary to the first article – this platform apparently was drunk up by the conventioneers like thirsty plants drinking up rain:

The wide acceptance of the platform at the convention surprised even its co-authors. “I had no inkling this would pass, and frankly we’d been told as much by people running the convention,” says co-author Steven Dyer, an evangelical youth pastor and vice chair of the Knox County Republican Committee, which sponsored the document. “They didn’t even make copies of it for the delegates. They just read it to them from the podium.”

Mr. Dyer says he and his co-authors aren’t members of the tea party, although some have attended such events. They were motivated by disappointment with the party’s “progressive” wing, which had “forgotten what it means to be a Republican,” he says.

He agrees that the document is vague in parts, but that was because they had expected it to be merely a draft to begin negotiations with less-conservative party members. To their amazement, it passed with the support of not only tea-party groups, evangelical Christians, and Ron Paul libertarians, but also a large number of presumably rank-and-file conventioneers.

(Via Instapundit) Apparently the Maine GOP organization was chafing a little bit over their current platform – but only moderates can get elected in Maine, right? Hold on, let’s get a quote from a local political guy:

“If you’re not a moderate, you don’t get elected in Maine,” says political consultant Chris Potholm, a professor of government at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. “Any candidate who gets nominated is going to ignore that platform, or he or she is going to lose.*”

It’s the standard argument, but it has one small problem: the Maine GOP has been apparently acting in accordance with that principle, and it currently ‘enjoys’ a three-to-two disadvantage in the state legislature and hasn’t elected a Republican to Congress for over fifteen years**.  The entire ‘must be moderate to win’ has as its assumption that both conservatism and liberalism must be best considered as mere intellectual concepts, and never mind their practical utility.  Because of this assumption, te idea that one or the other could be simply better at running a city, state, or country – and that it could be shown to be better – must then be squashed.  Particularly in a state already dominated by Democrats, as then there would be no pesky alternative political theories to provide a contrast to the existing paradigm.

So let’s see how this turns out, shall we?

Moe Lane

*I am ashamed to admit that I assumed that the quote from Potholm above was provided on command… because if I had actually went to confirm that, I wouldn’t have delayed the pleasure of reading this charmingly mean review* of one of Potholm’s books.  Word of advice for budding political writers: always make sure that you spell right the names of anybody who might conceivably end up reviewing one of your books someday.

**I grant (unlike some reading this) that Maine’s two sitting Senators are both Republican and ‘moderates’ – but they’re also personally popular; if you replaced either Collins or Snowe with Republicans who were equally ‘moderate’ the seats would probably flip at the next election, and by Democrats who would not be moderate.

Crossposted to RedState.


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  • apetra says:

    Maine is as lost to conservatives as, um, er, Massachussetts.

  • jgreene says:

    Most of this reasonable platform will be accepted by a majority of voters in the country. The frustrations that citizens have with their political class is evident in the words of the platform.

    Good luck New Maine Republicans! God Bless America!

  • Slublog says:

    I live in Maine, and just rolled my eyes when I read Potholm’s comments. In 2006, Potholm wrote a column critical of the GOP candidate in which he identified himself as a lifelong Republican. One problem, though. He was working for the opposition, incumbent Democrat Governor John Baldacci:

    Although Potholm described himself as a lifelong Republican within the context of the column, he created controversy this week when he did not identify himself as a Baldacci supporter, much less an employee of the Baldacci campaign – a position he has held since June 27. That information became known Tuesday when state election candidates’ campaign finance reports were filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. Potholm had received an initial payment of $7,000 from Baldacci.

    In Thursday’s Portland Press Herald, Potholm announced he had apologized to the Brunswick Times Record for failing to disclose he was on the Baldacci payroll.

    Full story here.

  • Flyfish says:

    Curious times indeed here in the People’s Republic of Maine. I’d suggest that your comment about 53% of the Voting public might be an obsolete demographic; everyone I know is flat out angry, angry with the State Government, angry with the Federal Government, angry with both parties and deeply concerned about the spending that’s going on. It may be that the “voting public” is about to expand in a defensive reaction to all this debt. Maine’s almost always the first state into a recession and guaranteed to be at the end of the line when the recovery takes place; in each cycle I’ve seen since I moved here Maine was far worse off employment wise than it was before. While that may be true of the nation as a whole we just don’t have the blue collar middle class jobs anymore and it’s going to force a change in the fiscal policies of even the Democrats because the money to continue the way we’ve been going just doesn’t exist.

  • Jay Tea says:

    Sigh… Moe, I love ya, but I have a fit every time I see this mistake.

    Snow and Collins are Republican members of Congress. “Congress” includes both Houses. A lot of Representatives prefer the generic term “Congressman” (or “Congresswoman”) to suppress that they are part of the “lower House,” which would be emphasized by calling them “Representative.”

    Personally, I find “Representative” a more honorable honorific, but I know I’m odd.


  • John Frary says:

    Arden Manning, the Democrats campaign chieftain and volunteer adviser to the Republican gubernatorial candidates urges them to reject the platform, asking “Do they stand with the fringe that has taken over their party or do they stand with mainstream Mainers?” Having done his little bit to help the Republican candidates down the path to victory, he sends out an e-mail appealing for donations to the Democrats assuring recipients that “the new GOP platform reads like an inflammatory conspiracy theory written by paranoid Tea Party members.”

    Rep. Chellie Pingree is a member of Democratic Socialists of America. How does this fit into Maine’s mainstream?

  • Duke says:

    There is high anti-incumbent energy because liberal Democrats are rushing headlong over the fiscal cliff while country club Republicans promise to take us there more slowly. If Maine has what I’m seeing on the ground in Connecticut that energy is about to inject some life into the politically moribund northeast.

  • John says:

    Granted I’ve never been to Maine, but just in general, as a libertarian, I prefer a consistent enemy to an inconsistent ally. Its much less disheartening to be beat by a adversary than to backstabbed by a friend. When I am beat by a rival, I redouble my efforts to win next time, but when my legs are cut out from under me by one of my own, I just lose motivation for the next fight.

  • Ric Locke says:

    I don’t know if it’s true or not but it makes a good story: years ago, when Chrysler Corporation was contemplating the massive redesign that became the Dodge Ram pickups, they were selling just about 11% of the trucks in the country. Several of the management people were dubious — should they take such a big step? Was the redesign too radical? One of the marketing people spoke up: “Look at our sales figures. We can piss off four out of every five people who buys a truck, and still double our market share.

    Same with the Tea Party-inspired platforms. People who want Democrat Lite (“moderate”) will vote Democratic anyway. If your campaign managers are defecting across the aisle, you’ve got nothing to lose and much to gain.


  • Helian says:

    Quoting from the platform:

    Reassert the principle that “Freedom of Religion” does not mean “freedom from religion.”

    Apparently the difference between Maine Republicans and other Republicans lies in their greater regard for “liberty.”

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