I am easily distracted. Twice, while in a hurry and thinking about a meeting I was headed to, I drove right through the garage door without opening it. The first time, I was running late, and I left the pieces of the door scattered about the driveway. When Linda looked out and saw them, she was astonished.

It is easy these days to be distracted by everything from tweets to ugly political fights.

A good example is President Donald Trump’s demand for an expensive wall along our border with Mexico. Linda and I spent quite a lot of time along that border in Texas and Arizona. One time, we came upon a boundary wall with an opening in it. A border guard was sitting in his car, watching the opening.

When I asked him what he was doing, he said they expected Mexicans to come through the opening. I asked him if he knew they had ladders. Last year I learned that the items that are most found along that wall are ladders.

We were impressed with border security last year in southwest Arizona. We encountered border guards all along the roads. In one place they sat all day in three trucks. They also have blimps in the air, watching our borders.

While the president rails about the need for his wall, the number of border guards has been reduced during his tenure, from 19,828 to 19,437.

We actually need more Mexicans to cross the border. Younger Mexicans are not interested in coming to our country to clean rooms or harvest crops. While busloads still arrive each day, bringing workers who are shuttled back across the border at the end of the day, one labor contractor is down to just three or four busloads, compared to 15 or 20 years ago.

“Washington is not going to fix anything,” said that fellow, who had just returned from a trip to our Capitol. “You’ve got too many people — lobbyists, politicians, attorneys — who make money off the dysfunction. They make money off not solving problems. They just keep talking about it.”

Aha. A great way to distract us.

Our governor is brilliant at that. His constant attacks on land trusts distract us from the fact that he has severely cut state aid to municipalities. When a legislative committee recently tried to ask him about the sale of wood from our public lands to a Canadian company, the governor viciously attacked some committee members. Yup, an attempt to distract.

And now they are distracting us in order to avoid expanding Medicaid, as we voted to do, by claiming they don’t have enough money to fund the state’s share. That is not true. If you knew all the programs and projects they are funding, you would know they are simply distracting us with their Medicaid funding claims. Shouldn’t our decision be their highest priority?

And now the governor is distracting us from his irresponsible opposition to alternative sources of energy, including the sun, by endorsing drilling for oil off our shore. He is absolutely alone in that endorsement, as a hearing sponsored by the Natural Resources Council of Maine demonstrated. And, oh yeah, the governor tried to distract us in his final speech to the Legislature by attacking the Natural Resources Council.

And don’t even get me started on guns. We must tackle these issues comprehensively, including mental illness, domestic violence, school security, and, yes, gun issues. But we’re being distracted by the fierce battle over guns. And sadly, little is being done.

It is critically important that we not get distracted during this year’s election. We desperately need political leaders who want to address all of our issues and concerns, rather than tossing out lots of distractions. This means they will reach out to each other, get to know each other, work with everyone, not just those in their political party, and pay attention to us. Please, pay attention to them and help us elect the best leaders we can.

Our attention these days is greatly distracted by fake news. I had a lot of fun writing last week’s column about fake news. But I hope I didn’t distract you. And trust me, I always look at our garage door before getting in my vehicle and backing out.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

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