Maybe LePage doesn’t understand the concept of chicken

Cringeworthy. It’s another of those millennialisms I love. Ah, but to whom to apply it? In the political commentary realm, cringeworthy behavior abounds.

There’s Congress, our dear president (whose daily cringe-worthiness makes it impossible to narrow it down to one single hyperlink), or the Maine Legislature still struggling after six months to come up with a budget in the time allotted by the Maine Constitution.

Or there’s the consistently cringeworthy Governor Paul LePage exacerbating that budget situation in the legislature … yet again.

Tuesday LePage was on the radio calling his budget battle with the legislature a game of chicken. 

Not that Wikipedia is a totally accurate source, but I double checked my understanding of the game of chicken and confirmed it’s a one v. one game. Someone might want to tell the governor he has 1.3 million people in the back seat of his car.

Chicken involves two drivers heading directly toward each other and the first to swerve to avoid the collision is the chicken. Wikipedia refers to the collision that theoretically happens if no one swerves as “the worst possible outcome.”  To further quote Wikipedia:

The phrase game of chicken is also used as a metaphor for a situation where two parties engage in a showdown where they have nothing to gain, and only pride stops them from backing down. -Wikipedia

Our governor’s thoughts:

I’m the worst guy in the world to play chicken with because I don’t veer either way. I go straight ahead. So if there’s a collision to be had, it’s coming Friday night.  -Governor Paul LePage

On Thursday LePage was back on the radio, his other favorite media outlet, bragging about his willingness to pointlessly waste the people’s time and money. He’s been vowing a shutdown all week, should the legislature finally reach an agreement of which he disapproves.

LePage has pledged to sit on such a budget for the 10 days he’s allowed by law. Were the legislature to reach such an agreement by a two-thirds vote, LePage’s feelings about the budget are irrelevant because two-thirds is enough to override a veto or become law without the governor’s signature.

It would be nice if we had a governor who responded to recent progress in our dysfunctional legislature’s budget process affirmatively. Maybe toss a couple light slams about how long the legislature’s had to do their jobs and whatnot, but then follow with a willingness to sign a budget rather than have state services shut down and state workers go without paid employment.

It would be nice if when advocates for the poor asked if social service programs would be affected in a shutdown, Maine had the kind of governor who could give a simple answer to a simple question.

It would be nicer still if the immediate answer had been something like, “Of course social services will still be up and running — I’m a father so feeding and sheltering children is a top priority for me.”

Instead we have Governor “Game of Chicken” prompting yet another lawsuit against the state just so advocates can get a simple answer to a simple question. 

Instead we have Governor “Game of Chicken” driving his car full of Mainers toward a collision in reverse. That means it’s everyone in the back of the car that’ll bear the brunt of the collision.

Is he really playing chicken if he’s not the one who is going to get hurt?

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.