June 21, 2018
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Don’t allow your fear to vote

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
This artwork by Michael Osbun orelates to the importance of independent voters in the primary season.
By Linda Nelson, Special to the BDN

One person, one vote: This is the rock of our democracy. It’s therefore very important this fall not to allow your individual vote as a citizen to be cast by your fear.

Our two-party system — and our desire to approach politics as a football game rather than one person, one vote — is broken. This is glaringly evident, not only in the inability of our federal and state governments to get real work done that improves our lives, but in our public support for independent candidates — not one, but three qualified to be on the Maine gubernatorial ballot — and for the tea party movement.

When a system breaks, those who comprise and benefit from that system — in this case, the Democrats and the Republicans — are never the people to turn to fix it.

Yet this fall, Maine’s Democratic and Republican parties would have us believe that voting for an independent candidate is in fact a vote for the opposing party. They want us to cast our vote for their candidates not because we feel they are the best, but out of fear of the other guy.

It is important for voters to recognize that strategies based on fear always are created out of weakness. Telling someone, “A vote for Cutler is a vote for LePage” or vice versa is a strategy closer to bullying than to a useful political strategy, and it is an indicator of the truth: The candidates selected by Democrats and Republicans in their primaries are not strong enough to win the general election. Neither Paul LePage nor Libby Mitchell offers policies Maine voters can honestly and wholeheartedly support.

It’s a shame that the core Democrats and Republicans who held sway in their primary elections were not attentive to the state’s realities and needs for integrity and substantive change in selecting their candidates. Now, they are reduced to threatening voters that a ballot cast for an independent is in fact one for their (dreaded) opposition. If you are an independent Mainer like me, this strategy makes you never want to vote for a Democrat or Republican again.

And it’s just not so. Each of us is able to evaluate the policies, histories and proposed actions of the candidates and select the best person to be the next governor for the state of Maine. Your vote is a vote for the best candidate, period.

Of the five gubernatorial candidates, only one has put forth specific proposal after proposal for ways to fix our state’s problems and move in a different direction: Eliot Cutler. Cutler also has shown, in the last few weeks, that he is the candidate on the ascendancy and the only candidate who can pull both Republican and Democratic votes and satisfy the central demands of Maine’s voters for integrity and change. He is on the rise, and the only thing we have to defeat us from having the best governor for Maine is our fear itself.

I believe Maine voters are too tough and independent to allow ourselves to be bullied into voting for a candidate who is not the best person for the job, or to allow our fear to hold sway in the voting booth. Your vote for Eliot Cutler is a vote for the best candidate for governor. You know you want to.

Linda Nelson is the founder of Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House.

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