The state of Maine entered the union by advantage of a compromise — the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Since then, Maine has been a pocket of political moderation and political flexibility, swinging left to proper, and again once more. In November’s election, Maine was peak Maine, the one U.S. state to vote for a president from one celebration whereas electing a senator from one other. At a time when “polarized” would not paint the depth of division within the nation, we appeared north and consulted Maine’s deceptively highly effective senator, Angus King, a registered impartial, beholden to neither main celebration, and, at age 76, holding no ambition of upper workplace. His colleagues see him as a reality teller and voice of motive. And maybe, we will flip to him as a information for repairing the tattered material of each the USA Senate and the nation at massive.
Who’s Angus King? He is not the extra outstanding of the 2 senators from his state (that is Susan Collins). He is not the extra outstanding of the 2 independents within the Senate (that is Bernie Sanders). He is not even probably the most outstanding man named King from his state (that may be Stephen, the author). However Angus King is one thing akin to Atticus Finch on a Harley. A motorbike-riding, duck-hunting, public-radio-listening straight shooter, unencumbered by celebration politics.
We spoke with him in his workplace the morning after the assault on the Capitol. He was offended with President Donald Trump.
Angus King: The very first thing that got here to my thoughts was the outdated quote from Hosea the Previous Testomony prophet who stated, “They who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.” And the president’s been sowing the wind for 3 or 4 months, and yesterday we reaped the whirlwind.
Jon Wertheim: You blame the president.
Angus King: I do. Phrases have penalties, and the– the upper up you’re on the hierarchy, the phrases have increasingly penalties. And the president of the USA has the bully pulpit.
He additionally directed loads of anger at his colleagues, particularly the 14 Republican senators who challenged certification of the Electoral Faculty votes, a stunt, King says, that fomented the rioters. King known as out by identify Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, whom he considers a good friend.
Angus King: I am dissatisfied as a result of he is aware of higher. He is a extremely sensible man. I believe it is attention-grabbing that he and Hawley are most likely within the prime 10% of IQ within the U.S. Senate. And that makes it much less excusable what they did, as a result of they knew rattling nicely that what they had been doing was improper, and that it was– inimical to the pursuits of this nation.
Jon Wertheim: This Electoral Faculty vote was speculated to be a certification, a formality. It was– it was one thing else completely. What about your colleagues who went together with this?
Angus King: They– had been improper to do it. And it was a stunt to engrave their names on the rolls of “I am loyal to Donald Trump.” it was a profoundly unp– patriotic act in my thoughts.
Jon Wertheim: Have you ever advised them that?
Angus King: I’ve.
Jon Wertheim: What’s that dialog like?
Angus King: Uncomfortable.
And as for the marauders…
Angus King: I do not sympathize, I do not help, I do not approve, I do not authorize what they did, however I perceive it.. As a result of that they had been advised by the president, by the media that they take heed to, by speak radio for months going again earlier than the election that– the entire thing was illegitimate. They could not belief the courts, they could not belief the Congress, they could not belief the media.
As strenuously as he condemns the riots, he is seen in his personal state what number of People really feel that the nation—and world—has handed them by.
Jon Wertheim: You– you already know these individuals.
Angus King: Completely. Hear, Donald Trump carried Northern Maine, they’re profoundly alienated from our system.
Angus King: You understand, in Maine, for instance, we have got these small cities in rural Maine that had been actually constructed round paper mills that had been nice jobs. One of many communities I can consider had 5,000 individuals working on the mill, and that– now the mill’s all gone. And these are those that labored exhausting. They did, they paid their dues. They did what they had been speculated to do, and but the world received pulled out from below them.
Ask King the supply of his distinctive pressure of politics, and he’ll let you know that geography is future. Although he grew up within the D.C. suburbs, Angus King has lived in Maine for greater than half a century. He arrived in his 20s as a public curiosity lawyer, and later grew to become a profitable entrepreneur. Past the lobster and lighthouses, he discovered enchantment in Maine’s ethos. Throughout the Christmas recess, we ventured to America’s higher righthand nook and visited him in his hometown of Brunswick.
Jon Wertheim: You have stated Maine is sort of a massive small city. What’d you imply by that?
Angus King: In the event you’re from Maine and also you cease on the New Jersey Turnpike for fuel, and the automotive subsequent to you has a Maine plate on it– I assure inside 30 seconds you may set up somebody you already know in widespread. “The place ya from?” “Waterville.” “Know Joe Jabber?” “He is my cousin.” (LAUGH) I imply, that is the best way Maine is. Folks know one another. And there is nonetheless a way of neighborhood and caring about one another.
Jon Wertheim: What do you attribute that to?
Angus King: Slightly little bit of geographic isolation, for one factor.In the event you’re in a small city and in the event you’re in a enterprise, repeat enterprise is all there’s. You have to, as we are saying up right here, use individuals proper, or they don’t seem to be gonna come again. that engenders– a way of neighborhood and– and relationship, and– and kind of reciprocity of– of fine will.
King made his fortune when he offered his vitality consulting enterprise within the Nineties. He figured he’d lastly throttle again and put some miles on his Harley, which he makes use of to this present day to cruise the state, visiting constituents.
Angus King: I’ve discovered you may be taught from anyone. I spent a lotta time on a motorbike, and– you already know, with a lotta guys and– and– and– and women– you already know, who’ve completely different views than I– I do. I used to be with a complete bunch of various individuals, you already know. And– and by the best way, they advised me, one of– considered one of ’em stated, “Angus, you are all the time gonna be a rider, you will by no means be a biker.” (LAUGH) Despite the fact that I had the leather-based jacket.
Stressed, in 1994, he put up his personal cash to run for governor of the state, a long-shot in a area of 13 candidates. That is when king, a lifelong democrat, decided to run as an impartial.
Angus King: I did not really feel snug with the– with the Democrats on– on the taxation, regulation aspect. I did not really feel snug with the Republicans on the social difficulty aspect, on the abortion and people sorts of issues. So I stated, “Hell, I believe I am gonna take a path up the center.”
Jon Wertheim: Been an impartial ever since?
Angus King: Sure, sir. I used to say I’ve– I’ve no automated associates within the legislature. However I additionally do not have enemies. I’ve 186 skeptics.
In his first race, and in an ironic twist, he beat Susan Collins, now his fellow senator. After two phrases as governor of Maine, he figured, once more, it was time to retire. However in 2012, Maine’s Olympia Snowe abruptly left the U.S. Senate, pissed off with the griping and gridlock. King made a bid for her seat. And, regardless of overtures from each events, remained an impartial.
Jon Wertheim: What does being an impartial allow you to try this you would not be capable to do in the event you needed to affiliate with a celebration?
Angus King: Nicely, it kind of liberates you, as a result of you do not have to do what the celebration says. You do not have to fret in regards to the celebration’s main contributors being mad at you. It is a luxurious in– in that sense.
Jon Wertheim: You have staked out your floor?
Angus King: Yeah and I simply attempt to search for widespread sense – options. what’s going to work, that is what i am all in favour of, relatively than ideology.
In Washington, King caucuses with the Democrats, however a 2019 GovTrack rating has him because the forty second most liberal—or 58th most conservative—senator. And as an impartial, he is in a position to keep away from the devils offers that include celebration politics.
Jon Wertheim: I’ve heard this described nearly as a locker room in sports activities, the place you are advised you may’t give the opposite aspect a victory.
Angus King: That is proper. It is a pep rally.
Jon Wertheim: What is the affect of that?
Angus King: Nicely, the affect is to divide us into– into– distrustful, armed camps the place it’s– all the things is a zero sum recreation. We– we win, and so they lose, or vice versa.
Jon Wertheim: So long as the Senate is 50/50 and we have now this– this knife’s edge, do you suppose there’s stress of– “Hey, King, decide a celebration already”? Do you suppose you are gonna have stress to– have an R or D subsequent to your identify?
Angus King: I do not suppose so. No, because– after I first got here down right here and talked to Harry Reid who was then the Democratic chief, I stated, “Look. I am going to– I am going to vote with you on organizing the Senate however I am gonna make my very own calls on– on different points. And also you gotta depart me alone.”
And he stated, “Don’t fret, we are going to.” And in reality, in 4 years, Harry Reid solely requested me for 2 votes. One I used to be gonna vote with him anyway, and the opposite I stated no. Now, it– I gotta be trustworthy, as a result of my Republican associates are watching this, and so they’re gonna say, “He is actually a Democrat, come on.”
Jon Wertheim: What do you say to that?
Angus King: What I say to it’s that the Republicans have not given me a lot to vote for currently.
King has stopped flying for the reason that pandemic, as an alternative he drives the 9 hours between D.C. and Maine, the place his spouse, Mary, lives and works, as do three of his 5 youngsters. When he returns to Washington on January 20 after this recess, it might barely look recognizable. New president. And after final week’s Georgia run-off, new celebration controlling the Senate.
Jon Wertheim: Does a unified authorities, identical celebration, Home, Senate, White Home, does that assist or hinder this therapeutic we have been speaking about?
Angus King: If the Democrats had 60 and will actually go no matter they needed, that may be a wholly completely different state of affairs. It is nonetheless gonna require– bipartisan work. And I am going to inform ya who the actual winners are, are individuals like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski– I hope myself, Joe Manchin.
Jon Wertheim: Why?
Angus King: As a result of we’re within the center and may have an affect in each instructions….
Jon Wertheim: You– you are a soccer fan?
Angus King: Sure sir.
Jon Wertheim: Appears to me positioning your self between the 40-yard traces now is– is all of the sudden a reasonably wholesome place to be
Angus King: Compromise is the essence of– of human expertise. And by the best way, the structure itself is filled with compromises. The– the U.S. Senate was a product of a compromise.
And Senator King has recommendation for a way his colleagues on the left may cope with the 70-plus million People who voted for Trump.
Angus King: There is a time period I’ve all the time favored known as “eloquent listening.” They need to be listened to, and we have now to attempt to perceive what is going on on. it is cultural and considerably financial. I imply, it is a very sophisticated matter, however we will not simply dismiss it–
Jon Wertheim: Are you involved that a few of your colleagues on the left are going to manipulate with– with a component of– of retribution? That crassly, you already know, karma is a you already know what, and after 4 years of a president they’ve reviled and of Republican senators they suppose have been enabling, and an assault in your place of business this week, that– this pendulum’s gonna whip again within the different route.
Angus King: You’ll be able to’t simply say, you already know, “No hurt, no foul,” and fake nothing ever occurred. Alternatively, to– to be motivated by retribution or– or some component of– of vengeance or some– I– I– I do not suppose that is productive.
Jon Wertheim: How do you thread that needle? You don’t need individuals to really feel unheard, however you additionally do not wish to give credence to what is not factually true. Goal reality has to matter.
Angus King: It does, and– and you– you, I believe you simply gotta strive. However– cramming issues down their throat is not actually gonna assist.
Jon Wertheim: How will we import these qualities of Maine, of– of placid and– and measured and cheap Maine? How will we import that to Washington, D.C.?
Angus King: I believe these qualities exist throughout America, however in– in– in lots of components of America, and we simply need to attempt to ring the bell of widespread sense.
Produced by Michael Karzis and Julie Holstein. Broadcast affiliate, Elizabeth Germino. Edited by Matthew Lev.