It’s no secret to Mainers that there is a regional divide between the northern and southern parts of the state.
To most Mainers, the term “two Maines” is a familiar phrase- those in the south are generally perceived by those in the north as elitist, arrogant liberals, and those in the north are generally perceived by those in the south as backwoods, uneducated conservatives.
Neither of the two stereotypes is accurate- save for the general political leanings- but they hold true in the minds of many Mainers nonetheless.
The stereotype of the northern Mainer is strengthened with things like the election and reelection of Gov. LePage, who has repeatedly blamed the state’s problems and shortcomings on “the liberals in Portland,” and has made xenophobia, racism, and welfare shaming pillars of his administration- and used continued support from his base in the northern counties to do so.
For all of the animosity between regions of the state though, it’s always felt like those of us in southern Maine don’t really care- we don’t lose much sleep over the conflict.
Perhaps it’s due to the engrained smugness that northern Mainers say those of us in the southern counties carry ourselves with, but when it comes to the political and social differences that we have with our brethren to the north, the general sentiment is that “those people up in the sticks just don’t get it”.
When it comes to the national monument debate, though, it appears as if we southern Mainers may be the ones who lack understanding.
I’m no expert on this issue, but I think there’s something to be said for the fact that the people who seem to be happy about the formation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument- generally- are people who either live out-of-state or people who live hours away in southern Maine.
On the other side of the coin, the people who live in the Katahdin region- generally- seem completely opposed to the land transfer and monument designation.
Regardless of how any supporters of the park feel- or the legitimate arguments they may make- the enthusiastic reaction by southern Mainers to Obama’s order to turn the land into a national monument only serves to perpetuate the divide between the two Maines, and this time the northerners have every right to be upset.
They’re right to be upset because their pleas to not build a national monument fell on deaf ears, and to make matters worse we southern Mainers went up there poking our noses in their business, insisting that the bumpkins from the north just simply don’t understand the debate, they don’t understand the economics involved, they don’t understand what a great thing this new park will be for the Katahdin region.
But what southern Mainers don’t seem to understand is that the folks up north don’t care what we have to say about it, it’s their land and they don’t want the damn park for a wide array of reasons that begin with a general disgust for Roxanne Quimby and end with an innate desire to decide their own fate.
So as southern Mainers and nature lovers from across the country rejoice over Obama’s decision to transform the land into a federally controlled park that 99% of them will never set foot in, is it any wonder that the northern Mainers who live there are angry?
Fortunately for southern Mainers, we couldn’t care less that they’re upset.
After all, it ain’t in our backyard anyways.