Silencing independent voices in Maine politics

Posted Oct. 05, 2008, at 6:38 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 3:24 a.m.

Whatever consumes the media between now and November, one significant note was struck already this year, when attuned voters heard about the defiance of two independents, who refused to play by the party rules, and ran for the U.S. Senate in Maine.

“Coordinated campaigns” aside, there was true distinction shown in the efforts of myself and Herbert Hoffman, both independents, to offer voters an actual choice for change. Because of our alternative platforms, Mainers had a brief opportunity to reject the Congress’ anointed opportunists, Susan Collins and Tom Allen, with their corporate collusion and their failure to protect the residents of their state of Maine.

Voters had a chance to look for a different way out of our problems than the way these two 12-year legislators got us into this mess, by going along with the White House and its disastrous piloting of our country into the national wreckage we have become.

By agreeing to get us into the war, by continuing to sink our money into warfare, by ignoring the emergencies they knew we would face with obviously unsupportable economic practices, they have proven their unconcern for the welfare of our state. These two, Collins and Allen, should have been driven from office, along with all the others who were derelict in their duty. Instead, they’re up for re-election.

Hoffman and I toughed it out as far as we could until the system formally shut down our campaigns in the courts.

I began this campaign a year ago, fighting for an end to the war, for impeachment of Bush, for single-payer health care and for a radical shift in our economic policy. From the beginning, I condemned congressional collusion with the criminal derivatives practices, which gambled our economic treasure away, and which will now destroy the basic subsistence of our lives. I called for a freeze on foreclosures, I brought my policies under the noses of the presidential candidates, I made sure that my own economic recovery plan was made available and could be used by Mainers as a template for political change.

Despite my fight, and Hoffman’s, the parties, with their fingers in the state’s governing branches, succeeded in excluding us both from the ballot, although we fought all the way to the top of the judicial system to resist the prejudice against independent voices.

What is now clear is that the fight to allow independents a chance to get on the ballot and a chance to be heard is not going to end. It’s a hard road. Maine likes independents, we are told. It is a hard truth to face that, as much as they like us, we are not at the table with them. Our state’s citizens will eat what we are fed from the reigning two parties and it is unsavory fare indeed.

Here’s a refreshing thought to take from the lessons offered at the Common Ground Fair: Everyone has the right to good sustenance — good meat, good drink, good living choices.

It’s time to ask the right questions, such as this one I leave with the public after my year of public service, running for office: Don’t we have the right to question our authorities in their choices for our leadership? I think we do and I hope others will follow in our footsteps. I’ve tried. And I won’t stop trying until life is better for us all.

Laurie Dobson of Kennebunkport is a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate.

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