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.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Time to Build

With the elections behind the Democratic Party, both nationally and in Maine, it is now time to build our operational capability, add understandable structure to our core beliefs and philosophy, and enhance our ability to communicate effectively with voters. Yes, we won a significant electoral sweep, especially in Maine. However, in addition to the excellent ground work that made it possible, candidates who carried the day on issues, and leadership focused on taking back the Maine legislature, we need to assume that some part of our victory was based on a reaction to Republican overreach and that party’s current inability to connect on matters of issue currency within the 2012 public’s mind in this past election. We ought not to assume our accomplishment is trend or permanent.

The determination to press on with party building for future success is essential. We need to in particular create a conscious public association directly with Democratic Party identity. We should focus on connections not only regarding specific issues but especially developing a trust to reliably govern well in the best interests of Maine citizens. And we must understand that we will not know we have accomplished that task until the public tells us the trust exists. Elections are one measure of trust but we need to pursue a common agreement with the general public that we carry that trust everyday. Becoming “of the people” to reinforce “for the people” is key.

The effort to become a reliable spokesperson for the interests of Maine people and develop a public conviction that our approaches to issues that exist now, those unspoken, and ones that will arise ought to be a central goal. While I believe our core approach to governance connects well to the aspirations of Maine citizens, that understanding needs to flow both ways. Striving between elections to achieve the objective of having voters, far more than activists and issue focused groups but yet including all, being able to articulate an understanding of what the Democratic Party stands for in the context of a positive embrace of the future should be the measurement of our goal. I want to sit in that coffee shop, walk on our Main Streets, and work beside people who can easily define us in straightforward terms and most of all answer that “yes of course” they trust us.

With that accomplished, we might once again see campaign signs that say “_________, Democrat for” Governor, Senator, Legislature because we will have transformed the Democratic Party into an emblem of aspiration and a badge of trust.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Re-elect Craig Hickman

I am urging voters in Readfield and Winthrop to join me in re-electing Craig Hickman to the Maine House in 2014.

In order to do so, you would want to reflect on a term of service that included his continued dedication to the needs of all people in our community, a record of assisting the educational aspirations of all students and their families, positive actions to assist our small businesses based on his direct experience, wise stewardship of Maine’s precious natural resources, and applied practical use of his experiences as a farmer to grow our local food, economy, and middle class. You would want to feel that Craig Hickman put the words ‘public servant’ into action as your representative, never left you or your neighbor behind no matter his or her station in life, and always studied and listened about every issue with an open mind to find effective solutions to meet the challenges we share.

I believe based on Craig Hickman’s current dedication and tireless giving, casting your vote in this 2012 election for him will most certainly reap a record we can be proud of and support continuing two years from now. I strongly support him because I care a great deal about both the immediate and long term future of all us and I know he does as well.