5/3/18, by Rep. Larry Lockman,
“Inside every progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out.”
That provocative slogan — coined by communist-turned-conservative author David Horowitz – came to mind as I observed the chaotic conclusion of the legislative session last month from my front-row seat in the Maine House of Representatives. I can’t think of a better way to describe Rep. Sara Gideon’s conduct and demeanor as Speaker of the House as we lurched toward statutory adjournment on April 18th.
Her far-left bias was on full display in the days and weeks leading up to the end of the session, culminating in a morning-after meltdown when she slandered Gov. LePage and House Republicans as terrorists. It was a new low even by the already low standards of Democrat leadership in the Legislature. Gideon makes the corrupt and incompetent former Speaker Mark Eves (now a gubernatorial candidate) look like a statesman.
Her overt hostility to free and open debate is consistent with the Left’s escalating campaign to silence anyone who dares to resist the smothering embrace of the Nanny State. At the state and national level, Leftist politicians and their fellow travelers in the lying, dying Fake News industry are hell-bent on muzzling their critics, and even stripping them of their ability to make a living. Gideon is in sync with that totalitarian tendency on the Left.
If she were dictator for a day, believe me, it would turn real ugly real fast.
As the presiding officer of the House, Gideon wields enormous power over the flow of legislation and the conduct of debate on the floor. She repeatedly abused that power during the waning days of the session by interrupting and shutting down floor speeches by conservative GOP legislators.
On several occasions, Gideon invoked a legislative rule against impugning the motives of a fellow legislator when nothing of the sort had occurred. These rulings from the Speaker’s rostrum were aimed at silencing GOP members during floor debates on some of the most contentious bills we considered.
Perhaps the most egregious example of Gideon’s petty tyranny from the rostrum came on the last day of the session.
Gideon effectively short-circuited the debate on a bill to criminalize the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Madame Speaker and all but one member of her Democrat caucus voted to kill LD 1904, a roll call vote that is sure to haunt them in the mid-term elections. Gideon was visibly irritated just as soon as Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) began her floor speech in support of the bill.
This is what triggered Gideon to interrupt Rep. Sirocki and accuse her of impugning the motives of other legislators:
“Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a well-known Somalia-born human rights activist who, at age five, underwent Female Genital Mutilation while her parents were away on vacation, and she was left in the care of her grandmother. She did not know the person that cut her. Regarding genital mutilation, Ms. Ali said, ‘It happens and it happens a lot.’ And, ‘People don’t really like talking about the genitals of little girls.’ And, “What we see is that people are willing to sacrifice the rights of these little girls at the altar of identity politics.”
As soon as Sirocki uttered the words “identity politics,” Madame Speaker warned the Representative that she was impugning the motives of members.
Sirocki made no reference to any member of the Maine House of Representatives and no reference to anyone’s motives. She was quoting a well-known human-rights activist.
The worst kept secret at the Colosseum on the Kennebec is why Gideon and the Democrats voted to allow female genital mutilation in Maine. And since I’m not bound by Madame Speaker’s rules of decorum when I’m at the keyboard, I can give readers my opinion about what motivates Democrat legislators. Are you ready?
The Democrats dare not alienate their newest voting bloc, the Somali immigrant “community” and the myriad taxpayer-supported nonprofit entities that have sprung up to facilitate Third World immigration into Maine. Somali activists swarmed the public hearing in opposition to the legislation, and that’s why Gideon and her entire caucus (with one notable exception) voted the way they did. It’s a classic case of the Left’s devotion to toxic, race-based identity politics.
Another of the newly-minted grievance groups in the Left’s pantheon of victims is the so-called transgender “community.” I found out just how important this voting bloc is to Democrats when I spoke on the floor in opposition to LD 912.
The Democrat-sponsored bill would have imposed a gag order on licensed professional counselors and therapists who treat minors for gender-identity disorder. When in my prepared remarks I stated that left-wing progressives are waging war on free speech in America, Gideon immediately interrupted me and invoked the rule against impugning the motives of members. I protested that I had not impugned anyone’s motives, at which point she ordered me to meet her in the well of the House (in front of the rostrum) with the floor leaders for a private, off-the-record conversation.
I again insisted that I had not questioned or impugned anyone’s motives, to which she angrily responded that my reference to “left-wing progressives” was aimed at Democrat members of the House. I was unable to convince her that my remarks were not meant to question or impugn any particular member’s motives. She asked me if I understood her position, and whether I wanted to continue my remarks. I replied in the affirmative and returned to my seat.
When I resumed speaking, she interrupted me again when I referred to an ordinance in New York City that allows employees to choose from among 31 different gender identities. She insisted that I address the bill before the House, and of course, that’s exactly what I was doing, making the point that enacting LD 912 will lead to outcomes such as the NYC ordinance. In fact, it’s common during debate for legislators to refer to similar pending or enacted legislation in other parts of the country.
Clearly, we have a petty partisan tyrant wielding the Speaker’s gavel. Again and again, Gideon put her ideological thumb on the scale during floor debates in the House, rather than facilitating robust debate.
Elections have consequences, folks. The majority party is empowered to install its chosen leader at the rostrum.
All the more reason to elect a majority of Maine-First conservatives to the peoples’ House on November 6th.
Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is co-founder and President of Maine First Project. He is serving his third term in the Maine House of Representatives, District 137, and serves on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee. He may be reached at [email protected].