Maine Governor Paul LePage, who on Tuesday prevailed on Donald Trump to “show some authoritarian power,” has a history of likening government agencies to the most notorious authoritarian of them all, Adolf Hitler.
“Sometimes, I wonder that our Constitution is not only broken, but we need a Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law," LePage told Maine radio station WVOM on Tuesday. In an apparent self-contradiction, he called President Barack Obama “an autocrat.”
“He just does it on his own, he ignores Congress and every single day, we're slipping into anarchy.”
But before Trump, LePage hated what he described as authoritarian rule.
“We the people have been told there is no choice,” LePage said of Affordable Care Act taxes in a 2012 radio address. “You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo—the IRS.”
The Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s secret police force, were instrumental in the Holocaust, a fact LePage later acknowledged.
“What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated,” he said in an interview the next week, without offering an apology. “Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad—yet … They're headed in that direction."
“So the IRS is headed in that direction?” the interviewer asked. “They’re headed in the direction of killing a lot of people?
“Yeah,” LePage said of the IRS’s alleged murder plans.
“Wait, are you serious?” his incredulous interviewer asked.
“Yeah, very serious,” LePage said. “You want to know why? Rationing. They ration health care in Canada. That’s why a lot of people in Canada come down the U.S.”
Many of the Gestapo’s convicted murders occurred in concentration camps, rather than through government-funded health insurance programs.
LePage later offered a full apology, saying his remarks were meant as a cautionary tale against authoritarianism.
“It was never my intent to insult or to be hurtful to anyone, but rather express what can happen by overreaching government,” he said in remarks to Jewish community leaders.
LePage has also decried other Obama-backed actions as being near-fascistic overreaches.
“President Obama is once again taking unilateral action against the will of the people, this time the citizens of rural Maine,” LePage announced after Obama signed an order dedicating a new national monument in Maine. “If average Mainers don’t realize by now that the political system is rigged against them by wealthy, self-serving liberals from away, this is a serious wake-up call. The fix has been in all along.”
This summer, LePage called on the nation to “bring back” a form of execution made popular during France’s Reign of Terror.
“What we ought to do is bring the guillotine back,” LePage suggested of punishments for drug dealers. “We could have public executions and we could even have which hole it falls in.”
LePage’s controversial remarks -- which include accusing “guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” of selling drugs in Maine and “[impregnating] a young, white girl before they leave -- have appeared to escalate in tenor and frequency this year, prompting calls for his resignation.
In June, the editorial board of Maine’s Bangor Daily News condemned LePage’s own executive orders, expressing concern over “his autocratic behavior.”
It is unclear whether LePage—who today called on Donald Trump to act the authoritarian—was flattered or offended by the June editorial.