Yesterday, Governor Baldacci announced that he plans to go forward with a homosexual rights bill despite the fact that the people of Maine have twice rejected identical legislation.
This is a good chance for all of us to look deep into the heart of our leaders. Do they have a sincere commitment to the principles that underlie our democratic form of government, or do they have a hidden agenda?
Popular referendums were the invention of a turn-of-the-century reformer named Frank Parsons. Parsons felt that the people could be sovereign only when their elected representatives acted as their agents.
But Parsons pointed out that instead of acting as the agents of the people, representatives all too often took government into their own hands by controlling law, business, and property, thereby becoming what he called an “elective aristocracy.”
The referendum was Parson’s solution to make sure that the Legislators heeded the wishes of the people. But never in Parson’s wildest imagination could he have envisioned that elected officials would be so brazen as to disregard the results of a referendum, not once, but twice!
The Governor likes to think of himself as “progressive.” Under this theory of “progressive” legislation, the vast majority of people cannot be trusted with “enlightened” and “progressive” innovations, such as the sort of legislation which puts sodomy on a par with marriage. The Governor clearly believes the people of Maine cannot be trusted to determine right and wrong in this matter. Perhaps there is a better word for this sort of thinking. Perhaps it is better to call it “elitist” – the kind of thinking which led Massachusetts to pass a homosexual rights law, and to then become the first state in the nation to sanction same-sex marriage.
Maine must beware of this form of incrementalism, where the people are hoodwinked piece-meal into accepting a very dangerous and radical idea. But in the end, that is the only way to pull the wool over the eyes of the clear-thinking and level-headed people of Maine - and the Governor knows it.