Photos courtesy Angus King Facebook page and Emojipedia.com
This is a Maine Examiner opinion piece and should not be confused with Maine Examiner news content.
On the campaign trail in 2012, Angus King was the master of soaring rhetoric. He told voters how Washington D.C. was broken and how he would go fix it for us. He quoted Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Chamberlain with well-deserved reverence.
He likened our nation’s challenges to the troubles the Civil War brought upon us, but he could fix it, he said. He enthralled voters with hollow promises by telling them that we must “disenthrall” ourselves to save our nation.
King, the Governor who left his state facing insolvency as he embarked on a cross-country RV trip, was the mustachioed professor promising a perfect solution he had no intention, or ability, to deliver.
He would be a “bridge” between the two sides. He would stand in the center and work to improve the lives of the people he would serve.
He, Angus King, the two-term Governor who presided over the Maine budget as it ballooned to unaffordable levels leaving a decade-long rolling budget crisis in his wake, was the one person who could get into that swamp of a capitol, heal the wounds and put everything right.
King played a coy game pretending he did not know who he would caucus with, Democrats or Republicans, before his election to the US Senate.
Then he was elected and all that went away.
King would caucus with Democrats. He would work with the Democrats. He would use their talking points on the Sunday talk show circuit and vote in line with the wishes of Democrat leadership. He would eagerly accept their campaign contribution checks. He would not do much else, for Maine or for the nation.
That bridge he had promised would need to be built from the left-wing of the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus. If it was built, it was a bridge to nowhere.
Not one bill Senator Angus King was the primary sponsor of has become law in his more than five years in the U.S. Senate.
While tens of thousands of Maine working class families suffered under tax penalties because they couldn’t afford health insurance, Angus King held firm supporting the mandate that was crushing them.
While those same Maine families and many others, including Maine small businesses, lobbied for a well-deserved tax cut that would deliver bigger paychecks, better jobs, and in many cases, large bonuses for Maine families, Angus King held firm in defense of the old, broken and expensive tax code.
But there was one thing Angus King did want to do, and he set his eyes on that goal.
An online petition was circulating to create a lobster emoji (an emoji is one of those little digital images in your cell phone, like a smiley face).
This, Senator King decided, was just what Maine needed. A lobster emoji needed to be added to the Unicode emoji library so people all around the globe could text a tiny likeness of the delicious ocean creature to one another.
Who needs tax cuts and the elimination of penalties for not being able to afford health insurance?
“First we must disenthrall ourselves,” Senator King might have thought. “Only then, will we have our pixelated crustacean.”
So he set out to work on it. And he won.
The headlines were glorious.
CNN: “Angus King, Maine senator, claws his way to lobster emoji victory”
Newsweek: “Maine Senator Rejoices After Announcement Of New Lobster Emoji”
USA Today: “Lobster emoji: Sen. Angus King thrilled to help net one for Maine”
Unicode added 156 other emojis during the same update in which they added the lobster emoji to their library. If you’re keeping track, that is more than one emoji for each member of the U.S. Senate to take credit for. It appears most of our Senators had more important things to do. Somehow though, if you just read the headlines, you may have believed this was the biggest thing in electronic communications since Al Gore invented the internet.
Maybe for his next act, Senator King will get a windmill emoji created and bring his entirely quixotic approach to governing into the twenty-first century.