Friday, November 30, 2012

Didn't the Maine GOP get the memo?

Two op-ed columns in the Kennebec Journal this week advise the new Democratic landslide legislature to essentially focus on Republican priorities and to approach lawmaking with Republican ingredients. Didn’t they get the memo? It was from Maine voters who overwhelmingly turned over both houses of the legislature delivering strong majorities to Maine Democrats.

The Maine public rejected the wild ride to the right and heartless policies of both the Republican legislature in the last two years and the arrogant service slashing and reset of government priorities from serving people to serving Governor Paul LePage’s corporate friends, moneyed interests, and ego.

Yet now we get advice like this from the “Naive” Conservative George Smith:
“The smart move would be to out-Republican the Republicans and to recognize that Maine people want bipartisanship and collaboration among legislators, and public officials who can lower their tax burden and expand their economy.
“Make those your themes and stick to them in 2013. Put on Republican clothing, no matter how ill-fitting and uncomfortable, and you'll emerge at the end of this session with the support and thanks of all Maine people (well, almost all Maine people).”
Excuse me, we won by a landslide of 89-58-4 in the House and a decisive turnaround of 19-15-1 in the Senate by campaigning on Democratic issues and concerns and should now govern on Republican themes? Most mind-boggling is that Smith believes doing so would lead to the gratitude of Maine voters because we chose to ignore their Election Day message which was specifically and overwhelmingly not the Republican one they rejected.

Then we have the rambling wishful thoughts and chiding of Representative Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea) that the legislature should focus on GOP priorities:
“In the upcoming session, the Legislature should pass more bills that offer career-specific training to our students in high-demand fields such as computer science, health care and building trades. “
“Second, I would like to see more government reform to cut costs and improve the efficiency of services to Mainers.”
“Third, we need to work with the governor to reduce our electricity costs, which are the 12th highest in the nation.”
“For the first campaign season in years, Democrats didn’t run on extreme environmentalism, probably because they realized that jobs should come first.”
There is a certain amount that may be accomplished in the areas Sanderson notes but the Democrats were elected by big majorities to do big things. She certainly should champion her issues but drop the expectation that a GOP-lite agenda is just what voters statewide ordered. It wasn’t by a long shot.

Democrats will be extending the hand across the aisle to Republicans but it will be to work on a robust agenda to serve all Maine people. Whether the GOP chooses to be attuned to it or not, a large part of the Republican defeat is due to their own legislative overreach in the last two years and acquiescing to Governor Paul LePage’s plurality tea party and the Maine Heritage Policy Center’s agenda of effectively, ‘people last.’

So if Republicans missed the memo, here it is again:

You are decidedly not in the majority any more, you will be respected, but Democrats have much repair and new work to do on behalf of the voters who overwhelmingly chose them to lead and to serve. Compromises must be true to the voters’ democratic and Democratic message.

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