Where are all the protests when it really matters?

The town manager of Jackman was outed a few weeks ago for being an outspoken white separatist working to create a whites-only utopia in Northern Maine.

But where were all the protesters?

You know the ones I’m referring to — the so-called #resist protesters who flooded federal offices late last year, holding sit-ins and getting arrested because of a drop in the corporate tax rate.

About 20 activists gathered outside the Bangor home of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Dec. 10 to protest the sweeping tax bill pending in Congress. Meg Haskell | BDN

The protesters who declared a change in the tax code to be “a moral issue” were nowhere to be found when open, stark racism emerged right here in our state.

Last week, state Rep. Larry Lockman declared the reporter who outed the Jackman white separatist was “a pathetic shell of a human being.” He also publicly asked: “How many more little girls in Maine need to be mutilated before you pull your head out of your ass?” He ended his tirade with the hashtag #TheyHavetoGoBack. Lockman was, of course, referring to Muslim immigrants to Maine.

But where were all the protesters?

The group of clergy who were arrested in Sen. Susan Collins’ office because they felt the reduction in the corporate tax rate was “immoral” were nowhere to be found when a sitting member of the state Legislature voiced these horrible things.

When Gov. Paul LePage declared that black people and hispanic people were “the enemy,” and that we must “shoot the enemy,” no members of the clergy were arrested protesting at the state capitol.

When LePage declared that black men were coming to Maine and killing us, there was no “study-in” from college students in LePage’s office.

Last week, a former LePage staffer lost his job at the White House over domestic abuse allegations. His ex-wife claimed the alleged abuse occurred while he was employed by the governor, and that she pleaded with the governor’s family to help stop it. Now many of the governor’s closest allies are taking to the internet to call the alleged victim a liar, “batsh**t crazy,” a “publicity seeker,” and worse.

This is a disturbing situation. One that should incite earnest reaction from the #resist folks in Maine.

But I’m afraid it won’t.

If history is a guide, the #resist movement will be virtually silent, one more time, in the face of actual, local “immorality.”

And, though none of them will want to hear it, there’s one reason for this: money.

When protesters went bananas over the tax bill last year, there were paid operatives on the ground in Maine organizing opposition at the behest of DC special interest groups. There were not “paid protesters,” there were paid organizers who managed, scripted, and solicited earnest Mainers to participate in public displays to bring attention to their cause.

But there are no such paid operatives on the ground in Maine concerned with Lockman or LePage’s racism, or the LePage administration’s potential cover-up and victim-shaming of an alleged domestic abuse victim.

So, as usual when it comes to real injustice in our own state, we will not see the #resist movement engage in any serious way about these issues — because there is no money involved.

This is bad for our state, for two reasons.

First, it shows how simple it is for DC special interest groups to create false notions in our political arena. Simply parachute a few operatives in, write a few grants to local groups, and you can create the illusion of a populace on the verge of revolt over things as obscure as corporate tax rates.

Second, and more important, it’s an indication of the tragic apathy that governs our local politics. Our state government is run poorly, and bounces haphazardly from one distraction to the next. We are served poorly by our local elected officials.

But no one cares.

Even when horrors like racism or alleged domestic abuse drift into the news, the public reaction is barely noticeable. Or at least not nearly as noticeable as the reaction to issues that operatives in DC are involved with.

Our citizenry gets the government it deserves, and if no one is paying attention because they’re too locked onto national narratives on CNN or Fox News, this is a problem.

If the #resist movement wants to make a real positive difference in Maine, prove me wrong. Get together and start putting your energies into state-level politics, where your voices can actually make a difference. Protest open racism. Protest domestic abuse victim-shaming by sitting legislators. This is all happening right here in Maine.

I’m a Republican and I disagree with most of #resist’s policy opinions. But if their activism gets more people paying attention to the mess our state government has become, it would be a welcome change.

Something’s got to happen to shake this state out of its apathy.

These issues are too dire to ignore.

Lance Dutson

About Lance Dutson

Lance Dutson, a principal of Red Hill Strategies, is a Republican communications consultant. He has served on the campaign teams of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Kelly Ayotte, as well as the Maine Republican Party.