June 8 was the beginning of good things to come for Maine’s working people and our middle- and lower-income taxpayers. It wasn’t that long ago, perhaps 30 or 40 years, when the Democratic Party represented the voice of our working people. They proudly spoke for those of us who worked with our hands for a living. They represented my father and grandfather and advocated for significant issues such as Social Security and a 40-hour workweek. They truly gave the downtrodden a voice when no one else listened or cared for their needs. With such great history, I simply don’t understand how this once great political party could have lost its way.
I was first elected to the state Legislature (as a Democrat) in 1980. At the time, nearly 25 percent of the Democrats were moderate, blue-collar working-class people and often supportive of limited government, advocating for free enterprise and a fair tax system.
As a conservative, I quickly realized that my views would never be accepted by the Democrats and I soon found out that the Democratic Party would never condone anyone who failed to support the liberal agenda supported by those in leadership from Southern Maine.
Changing my party enrollment was easy because the political party of my grandfather and father no longer existed.
Fast forward to today.
A serious objective analysis of the current membership of our Democratic legislators in the House and Senate would determine that no conservatives exist, few moderates remain and most of the current Democrats in Augusta are liberal or extremely liberal. They are politicians obsessed with government and government spending in a political party absolutely bought and paid for by nearly every liberal special interest that you can think of, a political party that has abandoned its roots and proud history.
The Democrats used to tell me it doesn’t matter how you vote, because Maine people never vote against incumbents. Be a nice guy, return your phone calls, attend local events and be friendly. Incumbents don’t loose. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that message, and frankly history bares out that truth.
June 8, I hope, was the beginning of a new day here in Maine.
The Republican Party, who joined with others including the Green Independent Party and various small businesses, tirelessly worked to repeal the 102 new taxes enacted by the Maine Democratic Party by rejecting the new sales taxes on car repairs and other services.
The Democrats passed these new taxes because Maine is a welfare state, and the only way to maintain government spending at current levels is to take more money out of the pockets of our working people. Sugarcoat it any way that you want but that’s the truth.
If they truly cared about our working class, they wouldn’t advocate for legislation like we rejected on June 8.
They would support a residency requirement for welfare. They would not have passed on a party-line vote new taxes on health care benefits to fund the failed Dirigo program. They would have listened to working people who are demanding that they stop spending and start working together to change our anti-small-business laws. They would support legislation to allow Maine people to purchase health insurance anywhere in the country.
I hope our working people will look at the vote of June 8 and remember that, like in baseball, three strikes and you’re out.
In November 2008, voters repealed the Democrat-enacted tax on soft drinks. In November 2009, voters repealed the Democratic-enacted same-sex marriage law. Most recently, in June, Maine voters repealed the Democrat-enacted tax on auto repair labor charges.
I hope their long-held belief that issues don’t matter at election time will no longer be the case. The voters of Maine in November will have the final say. Our working people will speak and I am confident that they are listening.
Charlie Webster is the chairman of the Maine Republican Party.