Republican state Representative Bernard Ayotte of Caswell admits he can't help himself.
Ayotte confessed in a recent op-ed that ran in several Maine newspapers that he's compelled to vote 100 percent of the time for GOP Governor Paul LePage's agenda because he's "genetically programmed" to be a conservative.
"Just as one inherits physical characteristics, mannerisms or mental abilities from one's parents and ancestors," he wrote, "so also I believe that one also inherits his or her political philosophy."
Ayotte didn't say whether his genes are responsible for a tendency toward word repetition.
Ayotte has a degree in biology and once taught the subject in high school, so far be it from me, with a C-minus in the subject (mostly due to a single, unfortunate incident involving a frog organ — possibly the pancreas — that somehow ended up in my lab partner's bra), to dismiss his claim. Maybe we're all born pre-programmed to tune in to either Fox News or MSNBC.
Although, you have to wonder how liberal authors such as John Dos Passos (the U.S.A. trilogy) and David Mamet (Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross) repressed whatever was in their double helixes until their later-in-life conversions to conservatism.
Ayotte, who's beginning his fourth two-year term in the Legislature, is unconcerned with such anomalies. During his time in Augusta, he's observed that most legislators toe the party line. "It gradually became clear to me that on just about every issue that was voted on by the full House," he said, "I could predict with a high degree of certainty how each member would vote."
While there may be some truth to that, Ayotte's own voting record provides evidence to the contrary. According to "A Citizen's Guide to the 125th Maine Legislature," he once voted for a resolution asking the US Congress to create a single-payer, universal insurance program, but later supported the Republican plan to open Maine's health-care system to more free-market reforms.
Ayotte has been something of a wild card in other matters, as well. His rating from the Maine AFL-CIO on labor issues went from a high of 50 percent in 2009 to a low of 0 percent in 2012. He gets consistently good marks from business groups, but also earned a 40 percent ranking from the Maine League of Conservation Voters in 2007. This year, he agreed with the league just 16 percent of the time.
If he had some kind of gene-transplant therapy in the interim, he didn't mention it.
Of late, he's held steady on the GOP right wing. Maine People Before Politics, a pro-LePage lobbying group, gave him a perfect score this year, as did Maine Right to Life. He got a goose egg from the Maine Education Association, and the Maine People's Alliance survey of his stands on social issues showed just a 5-percent liberal bias.
Even though most of the bills Ayotte has sponsored have dealt with local issues affecting Aroostook County and other nonpartisan matters (he once signed on as a co-sponsor of "An Act to Establish Flushability Standards for Consumer Products Advertised as Flushable"), maybe he really was born conservative. As an infant, he probably refused to take the welfare offered by his mother's breast, preferring to crawl out to the barn and milk cows for himself. When his auntie offered him a lollipop, he undoubtedly rejected not only the candy, but also the entire entitlement philosophy it symbolized. Although he spent his career as a teacher and administrator in the public schools, I assume he stayed true to his DNA by tearing up those paychecks issued by the monolithic, one-world-government, education establishment.