What happened on election day? The short story is, the people struck back.
A couple hours before polls closed I could feel something happening. I’d only felt it once before in my time in politics. It was the intensity and determination of voters to kick down the door of the establishment elite and turn the government over to a bona-fide change agent.
I first felt this same energy in the 2010 election of Paul LePage.
Mainers are a good, honest, hardworking people. Most of Maine’s Second Congressional District is comprised of communities where people still come together to do benefit dinners and put collection cans on store counters to help families in need. We don’t take kindly being divided up by age, economic status, profession, gender, faith or skin color. In fact, we find it insulting, and a sad reflection on the person attempting to manipulate us.
Conservatives and liberals live side by side across the district. They coach sports teams together; they manage town budgets and volunteer at fire departments together. They car pool their children and grandchildren together. They laugh, and they cry together. They love one another, even in the face of deep divisions in national politics.
In this election cycle, it was as if Maine Democrats never got that memo.
Liberals attacked people who expressed deeply held religious beliefs as bigots. Most of the time, it seemed they would attack anyone they disagreed with as a bigot, a stupid intolerant lout, or a knuckle-dragging, mouth breathing fool.
The things liberals said about conservatives in general during this election were in direct contrast to what voters of all party affiliations experience themselves with conservatives in their own communities across Maine.
On top of that, people with less money were told to covet what their neighbors owned, and promised that just one more vote for a liberal would lead to a promised land where your neighbor’s property could be redistributed to you. Maine people believe in keeping what they earn, and not using government force to confiscate what you want from your neighbor.
And the voters, for the first time in many presidential elections, had a chance to vote for a true reform minded change-agent in Donald Trump.
Liberal policies have hurt hundreds of thousands of Maine people. NAFTA has hollowed out the Second District’s economy. Across the Second District, voters chose the businessman who opposed the next big trade deal, TPP, from the start, instead of the presidential candidate who called it the ‘gold standard.’
Likewise, they supported the incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin, who had opposed TPP, while working harder than anyone else in Washington for his district. His opponent who claimed to oppose TPP but couldn’t decide if she loved or hated the tax cuts she was touting on television after campaigning against them and saying she hated them.
Maine’s voters know the difference between principles and opportunism, and it showed in their votes.
The media also was a factor in this election, but not in a way they probably hoped.
I still haven’t figured out if the liberal newsrooms around the state realize just how deeply distrustful voters feel of them. Nor have I figured out if they care just how transparent their bias is to voters.
Almost every day I end up talking to someone, somewhere, who recognizes me as ‘that Republican they saw on TV’ or some other reason. Most of them have a story about media bias to share with me. “Look at this article in the paper, see what they did there?” or “Did you see that story on the news this morning? It was horrible!”
Yes, Maine news media, it is true. People across the state watch you attempt to bias them every day – and it insults them.
The bias would have been hilarious this year if we were watching it as unaffected parties, but we were not.
Maine conservatives, fighting to move Maine forward, and to protect the American dream for future generations, faced a daily onslaught from liberals, the media, the radical left-wing, the ivory tower liberal elite and a half dozen big-money national liberal special interests.
In the end, it had little impact.
Second District voters had already made up their mind that Obamacare, TPP, bloated welfare programs, open borders, un-vetted refugees and foreign misadventures were not the best agenda for America.
And if the Maine media and Maine Democrats had spent a little less time screaming ‘bigot’ and playing games about endorsements, they might have seen it coming.
Now, as conservatives, it is time to lead and that means reaching out to voters of all parties.
It means uniting people for common purpose, and it means explaining how our policies and elected officials are working to make Maine, and America, better.
In the future, we may look back on this election cycle and say that this one time, when the Tree of Liberty needed refreshing, we did it with the sweat of patriots and the tears of the elite.
But the only thing that will make that true is if the hearts of Americans are united in a desire for the best for our country.
These certainly are interesting times.