It’s a Wonderful Life! And, yes, it is. The theme of that timeless classic represents one of the greatest most daunting challenges to parenting. How to teach our little ones that the giving is greater than the getting? How to live like the Apostle Paul who, whether abased or in abundance, learned the secret of contentment?
I was blessed to have grown up in a poor home. Yes, blessed. My father, a Vietnam Vet, left for the mission field in New Guinea, not long after returning from war. After returning stateside from the New Guinea, he immediately turned his passion and energy into church planting for the denomination to which he was affiliated. What that meant for our family was that we were in perpetual state of rebuilding our family budget. Once the church my father had planted reached a financial place to comfortably support our family, we moved on to start again. Over time, my resentment of this would turn to wisdom as I saw the need for sacrifice for the greater good. Lessons a teenage boy would prefer not to learn, but necessary nonetheless. I have learned that the best way to teach a wonderful life is to live a wonderful life.
But in the arena of politics it is all about the getting, isn’t it? The struggle for “who gets” is the ideal that predicates every manipulation, parry and thrust of this age-old dual. In the State of Maine, there is one Party that has a focus upon their interpretation of “who gets” and what they get. The other Party is in a constant study of vacillation and debate on which interpretation of “the gets’ and “who gets” they should adopt; the Party’s or the people’s.
The first is the Democrats. The have one constant focus and they do not divert from that. The government should get and the people should give. They firmly believe and espouse that all the wealth and treasure of Maine residents should be heaped into the halls of government where it can be protected and regulated away from the mishandling by the uneducated masses. And if there be any heaps left in the hands of the uneducated and unenlightened, those heaps should be immediately labeled as ill-gotten gains and the possessor of said heaps should be made to wear a sign with bright scarlet letters that spell “businessman”. Yes, after two short years out of power, the first order of business for Democrats was to try and vote themselves a raise. There is nothing left to guess on “who gets” with Democrats.
The reason for this immediate, feverish rush to the “till” for the Party, whose symbol is an Ass? It’s really quite obvious. For the two years, under the leadership of Paul LePage, the Republicans have been attempting to shovel those heaps of Maine’s wealth and treasure back out to the people of Maine. By lowering unemployment, creating jobs, making health care affordable and competitive, and passing the largest tax cut in Maine history Mainers are starting to see hope for an actual rebuilding of their own personal heaps. With 6,800 net new jobs in just 12 months, the average personal income above the national average by 30%, new home purchases up again by 23.6%, and the unemployment rate down creating 10,000 jobs since 2011, its hard to comprehend why Democrats regained a majority, unless you look at the issue of the “who gets”.
These Republican accomplishments did not come without a struggle. More could have been accomplished, were it not for very public defections from the hard left of the Republican Party. Editorials chastising the Governor in front of the State and the Nation did not give a picture of leaders focused on the people. The Tweed Chair debacle of the Maine Republican Convention convinced the people of Maine the Republican Party was riddled with factions consumed with getting their own agenda accomplished rather than fighting for the whole of Maine. Mainers had all they could stomach of what they were getting from Republicans and showed them the door directly adjacent to the woodshed.
In short, the Republican Party must decide which version of the “who gets” they believe in. If they want to present a remake of the Democrats vision, the populace will opt for the original rather than the cheap imitation. If the Republicans finally decide to offer Maine people a choice that is a contrast to Democrats, it had better travel in a clean, tightly run ship or the people will not get on board. The State of Maine and its people need to have their heaps of wealth returned to them, but they will not tolerate any more heaps of humiliation to go with it.