In a world that isn’t lily-white like Maine, the message “we are xenophobes” is not good for business. American prosperity is the result of an open-door policy to people of all races, colors and creeds.
Your first executive order asked state officials to question the immigration status of people here, and now you have made it clear that groups advocating for minorities and civil rights are not on your team. You describe the NAACP as a “special interest group” that can “kiss your butt” while you attend numerous Chamber of Commerce meetings, and the message isn’t lost on us, or the global economy. These words now define us, unfairly and inaccurately.
What makes American business exceptional are civil rights laws that prevent profiting from human suffering. The notion that constitutional protections of equality and due process are the enemy of business misses the point the founders of this great Democracy were making when they ensured not only a market place of ideas with a free press and free speech. America is a place where everyone has the equal opportunity to succeed.
Government is not a business. It was created to protect the public good, and to uphold and defend the constitution. The constitution specifically establishes three branches of government to balance power. In your recent memo to your Commissioners, you wrote, “communications with members of the Legislature must be coordinated with the appropriate members of my senior staff.”
Imagine if President Obama sent a memo to the Secretary of Homeland Security and ordered his federal employees to get prior approval from the President’s staff before they spoke with Senators Collins or Snowe, or any members of the U.S. House? Speaker Boehner would laugh until he cried. The legislature doesn’t work for you, Governor, and you don’t work for the Chamber of Commerce. You work for us. All of us.
Your stump speech about business acumen is getting old. You are not yet the champion of economic prosperity. You have not lowered taxes or reduced state spending. You have not created jobs or reduced red tape. You haven’t balanced the budget, fixed the roads, improved the education system or solved the public pension problem that’s been brewing since the McKernan administration.
Instead, you have depicted a colorful and creative swath of Maine’s community as “the problem,” ignoring the true cause of our current economic hardship -- unregulated corporate malfeasance on Wall Street and the growing income disparity in the United States.
Please step out of your comfort zone, Governor. Meet people who are living and contributing to this great state but don’t show up at Chamber meetings. Work with the legislature to make good, sound policy that will attract entrepreneurs and investment from a diverse global population. Be bold but not brash. We want you to succeed, and we embrace success for all of Maine’s people and businesses.