Democratic 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is not a normal person. If you analyzed her DNA, it would show distinct signs she’s a politician with occasional traces of human being.
Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King is also several chromosomes shy of normal. King has chatbot slickness without being nearly as interesting as the average AI entity.
And Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is certainly not normal. She inhabits a hive of GOP weirdos professing racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia and an unnatural affection for autocracy.
That leaves Democratic 2nd District U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, the sole member of Maine’s congressional delegation to exhibit detectable signs of normalcy. As with most normal people, that’s not always a good thing, but at least it’s understandable.
Golden caught serious flack this month for his vote in favor of a Republican defense budget bill riddled with pus-filled sores that had nothing to do with protecting the country. Whether you think the congressman was justified in supporting this stinking pile of culture-war slop is probably a good way to measure how close to normal you are.
The GOP has a narrow majority in the U.S. House, which allows it to pass all sorts of absurd, unrelated amendments to otherwise routine bills. The National Defense Authorization Act — that’s the military budget — somehow became a magnet for every bit of right-wing angst about stuff that has nothing to do with the Army, Navy or Air Force and everything to do with pandering to extremists.
It began with an amendment to ban the armed forces from paying for a service member to obtain an abortion. Golden voted against this measure, but Republicans rammed it through. Next up was a proposal to prevent public money being spent on gender-transition procedures for those serving in the military or their families. Golden cast a no vote, but the GOP majority prevailed. As the war in Ukraine continued, House Republicans addressed this pressing issue by proposing to ban gay-rights or trans-rights flags at military facilities. Golden didn’t think this was particularly relevant to the national defense, so he voted against that amendment. It passed anyway.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Intestinal Distress) sponsored an amendment to make sure military school libraries didn’t harbor any material that she might consider pornographic or anything discussing gays or transexuals. Being a more or less normal person, Golden voted against this turd-like piece of stupidity, but the GOP glued it onto the defense bill anyway.
There was an amendment designed to discourage the armed forces from trying to find out how widespread neo-Nazi ideas are among the enlisted ranks. It won approval over Golden’s objections. And Republicans also wanted to stop the military from encouraging diversity and other radical concepts like equity and inclusion. Golden didn’t think that was a good idea, but the majority once again prevailed.
Golden did support a Republican amendment prohibiting the Defense Department from requiring candidates for promotion to take training in “race-based concepts,” telling the Bangor Daily News that rule was irrelevant.
So, now Golden was faced with a defense bill that authorized spending more than $874 billion over the next year on 5.2% pay raises for the military, new Navy ships built by Bath Iron Works and continued submarine repair work for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Even with all those stupid and evil amendments that had nothing to do with keeping the nation secure, the congressman voted to pass the budget, one of just four Democrats to do so.
“Right now, I think it would send a terrible message to not support the defense bill,” he told the Bangor paper. Also, he said, the Senate, controlled by Democrats, would almost certainly strip all those obnoxious additions out of the final bill.
In short, Golden behaved like a normal person, making the best of a bad situation. His final vote on this matter might not have been ideal for women, racial and sexual minorities, and his constituents who aren’t certifiably crazy, but it was in the national interest.
Of course, that assumes there are enough normal people in the Senate to fix this mess. That’s a very shaky assumption.
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