Did you catch the preview of the next two years in state government?

It starts with a governor who breaks all the rules of civil behavior. That stirs up a macabre media swarm, similar to what you might see when a jumper is spotted on a bridge.

Then you add fed-up legislators, who declare that — this time — things have to change. But they are blocked by a hard-core minority of enablers, who hold fast and delay action.

That’s where they are in Augusta now, and that’s where we all will be as long as Paul LePage is in the Blaine House.

Before the “voice mail heard ’round the world” scandal becomes another item on the list of bizarre LePage antics that newspapers compile every time he does something out of bounds, there is a point we need to emphasize: This is not normal.

No Maine governor in living memory has ever done anything like the things that Gov. Paul LePage has done over the last 10 days. No other governor in America makes violent threats or outrageous racist charges with impunity. No politician in Maine — no Democrat, no Republican, no independent — has the need to direct all of the focus of government onto himself, preventing the kind of important work that Maine people deeply need.

Maine does not have a partisan problem. It doesn’t have a civility problem. It has a Paul LePage problem, and it will as long as he is the governor.

Most importantly, we cannot forget that what the governor says about race and criminality is wrong – not just factually wrong, but morally wrong. He says with great emotion that he holds no bias in his heart, but in the next breath he libels black and Hispanic people, identifying them as the source of the poison that has been killing six people every week in Maine this year.

It’s not true. There is no statistical evidence to support his theory. He has been told that it’s not true, but he says it again and again, and his emboldened supporters repeat it as if it were gospel.

When he says that 90 percent of people responsible for the opiate epidemic are black or Hispanic, he is exposing innocent people to suspicion and danger — especially since he has joked about armed Maine citizens shooting drug dealers. Black and Hispanic Mainers now have to wonder if their neighbors share the governor’s sense of humor, or if they might think he really meant it and will take a shot at them.

LePage was forced to apologize to Rep. Drew Gattine, the recipient of a terrorizing voice mail, but he has never conveyed any regret to the people of color whom he has identified as “the enemy.” In this episode, LePage has exposed a dark side of racial relations in Maine, which many people had believed to be a tolerant place. The way the world views us and the way we view ourselves may never recover.

The good news is that Democratic leaders in the House and Senate stood up and declared LePage unfit for office. And Senate President Michael Thibodeau appeared sincere in his attempt to intervene with LePage and get him to seek professional help, for the sake of the state.

They may have been able to achieve a bipartisan response that would have told LePage and the world that Maine is better than what we’ve seen these last 10 days, but the process was derailed by House Republican Leader Ken Fredette, who was able to block a special session of the Legislature. Fredette predicted that the media’s intense focus on this incident would not last, and he is right. But if we forget about the things LePage has said and done, shame on us.

Barring a surprise — and the governor is full of surprises — Maine government will continue on the path to dysfunction that we saw this week. It’s going to be a long two years.

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