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LePage: Candidates must debate the issues with civility and integrity

Weekly Address by Governor Paul LePage

Those who know me know I enjoy reading history – presidential biographies are my favorites. Recently, I spent a few evenings with Bill O’Reilly’s book “Killing Lincoln.” I have read many books on President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination; however, O’Reilly captures this American tragedy, as no other author has. It really is a thrilling read and I recommend the book.

I think there is a lot to be learned from history and I like to think the mistakes and mishaps of the past will not be repeated. But I am not sure this is the case.

For 236 years our constitution has tried to uphold our Founding Fathers intent – to protect Americans rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What I am sure our Founding Fathers did not have in mind is the type of dishonest campaign that those who wish to lead our country and state – both incumbents and challengers – are undertaking.

It’s been called by some, “the mean season.” Don’t get me wrong, our past doesn’t demonstrate that we all have been nice during election season. During the 1864 race, General George McClellan mocked President Lincoln as a “baboon.” The president was also called “two-faced” to which he replied, “If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?” Humor aside, that was in the middle of the Civil War.

Now, we are in the midst of a different kind of war. Words are the arsenal and they have a potentially devastating consequence to a campaign.

A recent attack ad against State Senate president Kevin Raye who is running against U.S. Representative Mike Michaud falsely claims that Raye spent $20-thousand dollars on a new kitchen at the State House. Even the Portland Press Herald came out in its so-called “truth test” report saying this was a “whopper” of a lie.

There is a difference between calling people names and lying.

The fact is this; we cannot rely on the media to tell us how to vote.  While negative ads appear effective I think candidates and PACs are at fault for, at best being deceptive, at worst outright lying, which is not good for Maine or the country.

We have two basic political philosophies – liberal and conservative – but regardless of our views, we must learn to debate the issues with civility and integrity. As Americans, we all want our nation to be strong. And strength is found within its people.

Right now, I’m reading “The American Patriot’s Almanac.” The book shares notable moments and people in our history.

In 1917, Martin Treptow enlisted in the Army to fight in World War I. In his diary he wrote, “The crisis we are facing today…requires our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”

Treptow was killed on the battlefield.

Pat Tillman was a pro football player. In 2000, he set a team record for number of tackles. But after 9/11 he traded his $3 million dollar salary to serve his country. Unfortunately, he was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. As one of Tillman’s coaches said, “The spirit of Pat Tillman is the heart of this country.”

These brave men remind us during this campaign season that we are one nation, and one people. Honesty, integrity and civility are their due for the ultimate sacrifice they and so many other Americans have made. We must never forget, before we are Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans.

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