There are lots of lefties in the Greater Portland area and their view of the world is very different from my own. Issues that concern me like looming national bankruptcy, burgeoning radical Islamic threats, media justification of young black men rioting and looting, the illegal alien invasion across our southern border - those things don’t seem to bother lefties at all.
Legalizing marijuana gets people excited down there. South Portland is pushing an ordinance to that end. People cross the bridge in Portland legalized it last November on a 3-1 vote, and now York wants to do it too. A friend speculated recently that at least 75% of Mainers smoke it. That seemed much too high to me, no pun intended. Perhaps it’s true in Greater Portland, but up north? Maybe it’s because I don’t want to believe it, but I hope my friend was wrong. Some may have voted for legalization based on libertarian principles, and not because they smoked it themselves.
Very few of the issues that crank people up in southern Maine do I think are important. As I’ve written before in this space, they get all worried that the Portland Pipeline Corporation (PPC), which has been safely sending crude oil from here to Montreal for seventy-five years, cannot be trusted to do the same thing in reverse. They pressured the South Portland City Council to pass an ordinance preventing the PPC from ever reversing flow. That ordinance will eventually go to the courts for final decision.
Going about my business down there - to the supermarket or town hall - people have ask to sign petitions about the oil pipeline, the bear baiting referendum, and so forth. When not doing that, they march in the streets celebrating homosexuality. They file suit to allow panhandling on median strips, continue welfare payments to illegal aliens, and to prevent development in areas where homeless people like to hang out. They worry that Maine is too white and needs more “people of color.” A guy at a supermarket asked me for a donation to a fund that protects feral cats. “What are you going to do? Feed them? I asked. He didn’t answer me.
A continuing controversy in nearby Cape Elizabeth involves the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club. It has been operating for sixty years, but lately some citizens have pressured the town and the state to choke off the club. The town passed an ordinance to regulate the club’s shooting range for safety, noise, and hours of operation. It’s trying to comply, but local residents who club president Tammy Walter claims want to shut it down completely, have been putting obstacles in its path. In Lovell, Maine where my primary residence is, guns are a necessary part of life. Nearly every household has at least one. Down there in Greater Portland though, guns are bad. People who own them are suspect. People who actually shoot them are anathemas.
Dog lovers and bird lovers are still glowering at one another in nearby Scarborough after a dog attacked a cute little piping plover chick on one of the beaches last year. Ordinances were passed to protect birds and control dogs. There’s a new sidewalk in front of our house and there are far more people walking dogs up and down than there are people with children. The same is true wherever I go down there. Dogs are everywhere. So are little plastic bag dispensers for people to put over their hands and pick up their poop. You have to really love your dog to pick up that squishy, smelly stuff every day and carry it home. Not all dog-walkers pick it up though, as attested by the land mines I find on my lawn.
I like to run at Bug Light park mornings and I’m careful to look down at the asphalt to avoid dog turds. Evenings, I like to stroll along there with my wife and look at Portland’s lights across the harbor while ferries come and go. But at night I can’t see the dog turds. So far I haven’t found any the hard way but it’s just a matter of time before I step in some.
Nobody knows me down there and that’s kind of nice. My column hasn’t run anywhere in Portland for over twenty years so I can walk around as an anonymous conservative observing the natives. If my wife isn’t with me I can question some of those lefty petitioners and listen to them expound on what passes for logic in their mindset. If the marijuana ordinances expand to other municipalities and even statewide, that mindset will harden and spread even further. Decades ago when I was a lefty, marijuana was part of the bonding ritual.