I have nothing against people who've had the misfortune of being born in other nations.
Unless they're from Chad.
I'm sorry, but Chad is no name for a country. Chad is a little blob of paper that hung in there long enough to get George W. Bush elected president. Chad is somebody's preppie roommate from college. Inhabitants of Chad would get more respect by renaming the place C.H.U.D., after the awful movie, or Chumbawamba, after the awful band. Also, Chad produces the worst beer on the planet.
And I don't care for folks from New Hampshire. Which is not technically a country, but more like a slipped disc between Maine and Vermont. The residents there are obsessed with living free or dying (which could be why they do more of the latter than the former), while never passing up a chance to remind us they don't have any income tax or sales tax — as if that improves their personal hygiene. Their beer is better than Chad's, but that's not saying much.
Other than those places, I'm cool with foreigners.
They could move to my town. They could drink in my favorite pub. They could invite me to dinner and serve goat testicles. I would still welcome them with the same courtesy and warmth Americans extended to my forebears nearly a century ago — only with somewhat fewer restrictions on where they could live, where they could work, whom they could marry, and whether they could join the country club.
There are just two things I'm not willing to let them do.
I won't allow them to eat my dogs, even though dogs are considered a delicacy in the traditional culture of New Hampshire.
And I don't want them voting.
Democratic state Senator Justin Alfond of Portland is sponsoring a bill that would allow non-citizens to cast ballots in municipal elections in Maine. Alfond told the Portland Press Herald he wants "to give people in our communities a bigger way to be involved."
In the unlikely event this measure becomes law, it would clear the way for residents of Chad to help choose your selectmen and people from New Hampshire to set your property tax rate. Keep in mind that the only thing in Chad that's worse than the beer is the selectmen, and the only thing in New Hampshire that's more overblown than its property taxes is the size of its Legislature. (The House of Representatives is so large that in order to fill all the seats, migrant workers have to be brought in from Massachusetts.)
Maine's constitution requires people to be citizens before they can vote for governor or legislators, presumably on the grounds that foreigners, ignorant of the issues and unsure of the candidates' qualifications, would tend to fill these offices with idiots.
(Wait. Somebody's checking the voter lists carefully, right?)
There is, however, no constitutional prohibition against people with no more ties to the state than summer visitors such as John Travolta (a New Jersey native, now a resident of Ocala, Florida), Martha Stewart (also from New Jersey, now a resident of Westport, Connecticut), or George Mitchell (born in Waterville, now a resident of New York City) indulging fully in the governance of their respective seasonal hideaways. All it would take is for somebody to follow up Alfond's bill enfranchising non-citizens with legislation authorizing municipalities to allow alien intruders from other states to smear their slimy tentacles all over decisions about local zoning, education costs, and infrastructure maintenance.
While I'm not overly concerned about impoverished non-citizens from Somalia, Sudan, or even Chad tipping the scales in favor of increased welfare payments or improved trash collection in local slums, I'm scared to death of wealthy tourists spearheading a campaign to have the road to Stewart's mansion paved with imported Peruvian asphalt studded with emerald chips and set off by gold curbing with lapis lazuli highlights. Each street light would be a miniature of the chandelier in the grand hall at Versailles. Each fire hydrant would be modeled after a classic Greek fountain. Each municipal budget would have a bottom line like a federal bank-bailout bill.
The opposition to Alfond's proposal seems to have missed this important concern. Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster correctly termed the bill "lamebrained," but then called it "an affront ... to any person who has gone through the process of obtaining American citizenship."
The threat here doesn't come from the unlikely scenario of Chadians (Chadites? Chadders?) taking over our towns. The danger emanates from natural-born Americans, who want to remake Maine to resemble the ritzy places where they spend their winters, where the runway for Travolta's jet is made of stone blocks looted from ancient Roman roadways through Gaul, and the landing lights are exact replicas of the Hope Diamond.
Give us your tired, your poor. We can put up with them. It's your rich and well-rested we can't tolerate.
Particularly the ones named Chad.
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