In explaining doubts about voting system, LePage says US is ‘not a democracy’

Gov. Paul LePage said Thursday during a radio appearance on WGAN that the United States has gone so far awry that it isn’t a democracy anymore.

“If we were a democracy we would have already fallen apart,” said LePage. “We are a representative republic. The direction the country has to start looking now is a parliamentary system. If the government is messing up, you throw the bums out.”

The comment by the Republican governor came during a conversation about the five referendum questions on the Nov. 8 ballot, during which LePage said he fears too many Mainers don’t understand what they’re voting on.

In a representative republic, elected officials represent only certain blocs of the electorate as opposed to in a democracy, where voters more directly elect their leaders. In a parliamentary system, the executive branch of government is elected by the legislative body — parliament — and is held accountable by legislators. The legislative body can vote out the chief executive — such as a prime minister — anytime.

LePage’s comments Thursday nudge up against speculation that if Hillary Clinton is elected, Republicans might consider impeachment proceedings based on allegations of misconduct while she was secretary of state.

That wasn’t the end of LePage’s criticisms of our form of government. He said Maine’s term limits, which limit senators and representatives to four consecutive two-year terms, aren’t working because politicians bounce from the House to the Senate and vice versa. LePage suggested that term limits could be extended so people can serve longer but that once they’ve reached the limit, they should be out of office.

LePage also had some sharp words for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who during Wednesday night’s debate said he could not commit in advance to accepting the validity of the Nov. 8 election. LePage, who has endorsed Trump, called that statement “stupid.”

“Donald, take your licks and let’s move on four years. … Not accepting the result is just, it’s a stupid comment,” said LePage. “Get over yourself.”

As the often do, LePage’s comments drew national media attention. The Hill and Politico focused on the Maine governor’s reaction to the radio show hosts’ description of how Trump said he would keep the American people “in suspense” about whether he would accept the election results.

At a campaign event Thursday, Trump reportedly said he would only believe the results to be valid if he wins.

LePage, who said this week that Maine’s election system is illegitimate because voters here are not required to show a photo identification at the polls, stopped short of endorsing Trump’s contention that the election is rigged against him, but said he believes the media is.

“I do believe that the American media has given Hillary Clinton a free pass,” he said, referring to the ongoing release of emails by WikiLeaks. “I think the Hillary Clinton campaign is a criminal enterprise and she’s getting away with it. She’s buying the country. … The problem is it’s not so much what [media coverage] Donald Trump is getting. It’s what Hillary isn’t.”


Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.