Maine’s Tea Party Republican governor, Paul LePage is clearly not a fan of raising the minimum wage in his state, even if restaurant workers in Maine currently make, on average, a meager $8.72 an hour – including tips. He has promised to wage “a little war” at the state Republican Party Convention this weekend to prevent his state from passing a referendum on the ballot in November to gradually raise the wage to a $12 an hour.
Apparently, even this small and incremental raise is too lavish for the Maine governor, who has quite a reputation for saying crass and tasteless things about lower-income minorities, especially for an elected official.
This time, LePage colored his remarks about why minimum wage workers deserved to live in poverty with equal parts demagoguery and xenophobic, drunk uncle phrasing. LePage states:
‘Already our restaurants in the summer, if you go on the coast, it’s hard to hear what they’re saying. You ever try to say ‘what’s the special today?’ to somebody from Bulgaria? And the worst ones, they’re from India. I mean they’re all lovely people, but it takes some – you’ve got to have an interpreter. Or how many of you have gone and tried to return something from Amazon on a telephone?’
So basically, minimum wage workers deserve poverty wages because some of them have foreign accents? Am I missing something, or did this seriously come from the mouth of a state Governor?
LePage’s rant comes shortly after Donald Trump made similar remarks about call-center workers in India. The Republican front-runner went so far as to do an embarrassing impression of an Indian worker answering a customer service call while making his point.
Both LePage’s and Trump’s recent remarks seem to indicate a frightening level of acceptance among some Republicans for blatantly racist rhetoric from their lawmakers and political candidates. Trump’s campaign, with help from the Tea Party movement, appears to have made racist xenophobia a mainstream political phenomenon in the United States, and this close succession of comments about foreign-born workers illustrates this troubling trend.
During the convention, LePage made it known that he hopes the Republican Party will unite around whatever candidate they choose, so long as one of them gets the White House in 2016.