It would be easy to make fun of the Maine Constitution Party. So, I will.
Although I worry that by taking the satirical path (also known as “The Lazy Columnist’s Route To Relaxation”), I might be obscuring an important point about the American political system. Which is — hey, if I told you now, you wouldn’t keep reading.
First, let me assure you the Maine Constitution Party is not a fringe organization composed of nuts. Any more than the Democratic and Republican parties.
Oh ... wait.
OK, maybe the Maine Constitution Party is a little nutty. But it’s the sort of nuttiness that reminds me of the Green Party. If there was a Green Party on Bizarro World. Which, come to think of it, there probably is.
Like the Greenies, the Connies want to stop you from having fun. It’s just that the two don’t agree on their definitions of a good time.
The Greens are opposed to you buying an enormous SUV and driving it through pristine wilderness at 100 miles per hour, grinding the habitat of endangered species beneath your oversized tires. Nor do they believe you should cook and eat those endangered species. Also, you shouldn’t be able to arm yourself with handguns and high-powered rifles to fend off the cops when they come to arrest you. And if some of the SWAT team members happen to belong to different racial, ethnic, or religious groups than you, they don’t want you going all Mel Gibson and hurling slurs at them.
Constitution Party members think all that stuff is fine. According to the group’s Web site, what the party is against is “the constantly increasing expansion of unlawful police laws.” But what they really don’t like is sex. Unless you’re married. To somebody of the opposite gender. Also, after you finish having sex, don’t plan on getting divorced, because marriages should only be ended because of adultery or death. And fornicators outside of holy matrimony would be subject to what sound suspiciously like “unlawful police laws.” As Eric Greiner, one-time party chairman, put it in a letter to Casco Bay Weekly in 2000, “[W]e do advocate recriminalizing sodomy as well as aspects of any immoral and unhealthy lifestyle such as homosexuality, bestiality, etc.”
I’m picking on the Constitution Party for two reasons. First, it recently attracted about 50 people to its state convention, at which, according to published reports, speakers railed against atheists and immigrants. Second, the Southern Poverty Law Center just listed the Maine Constitution Party in its annual report called “The Year In Hate.” The center didn’t go so far as to call the Connies racist or violent, but included them in a category called “Patriot Groups,” which it claims may “adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines.”
As, on occasion, do I.
The center’s decision to lump the Constitution Party in with skinheads, Ku Klux Klanners, and neo-Nazis smacks of McCarthyism, Nixon’s enemies list, and Gonzalez’s loyalty survey of US attorneys. Except it’s being done by liberals.
That, however, is about all the sympathy I can work up for the Maine Constitution Party. The group’s Web site stops just short of overt xenophobia and paranoia. It includes links to kooky outfits like the John Birch Society (one of “our partners in freedom”) and an alleged news site containing the story “Blacks recruited for terror by al-Qaida,” which includes the allegation, minus any sources, that “[The Muslim religion] is flourishing among African-Americans since 9/11. Analysts fear the trend plays right into bin Laden’s hands.”