COMMENTARY

OneMaine: a new way of practicing politics

Posted Sept. 18, 2011, at 6:35 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 20, 2011, at 5:05 a.m.

Over the last year, the state has been talking about the launch of a new political organization: OneMaine. Constructive change is coming to political dialogue in Maine. We want and expect the best from our dialogue and our political leaders.

Stemming from Eliot Cutler’s independent campaign for governor in 2010, OneMaine provides a rallying point for people who want the best for Maine; we believe that our politics need to be more effective and less partisan. The organization will support thoughtful candidates for elected office in Maine, regardless of political affiliation.

OneMaine is not a political party, but a new way of practicing politics.

OneMaine is a group of Maine citizens who believe that the solutions to our problems will be found in partnership with those who occupy and advance the middle ground between the extreme elements and ideologies in both parties. OneMaine is nonpartisan. It welcomes independents and Republicans and Democrats.

The goal of OneMaine? To foster a political conversation that is not about partisan advantage or who defeats whom. OneMaine will be about supporting those who tackle the challenging issues we face and identifying the solutions we need in Maine.

The members of the OneMaine Penobscot County Leadership Team are still proud members of our respective political parties (and we come from both sides of the aisle), but we recognize that we need a new way forward. Even though we come from different parties and perspectives, we agree more than we disagree, we greatly respect each other’s opinions, and we enjoy a lively discussion that ultimately ends in a good solution.

Most of us, as voters in Maine, vote for a candidate and not a candidate’s political affiliation. That’s why we have sent two Republican Senators and two Democratic Members of Congress to Washington. We want common sense solutions, and support such solutions even if introduced by a member of a party different from our own. We want to move Maine forward and beyond a new fad or a new faction, solutions are more important than statements.

We’re all in this together, and we believe that a rising tide lifts all rafts; in this economy, it is particularly important to lift the lives of Maine residents. Too often, however, party interests are prioritized instead of constituent concerns or sustainable solutions. Too often, special interests leverage sound bites and fear mongering in order to influence our elected officials and the voters.

That needs to change.

OneMaine is that change, that new way of practicing politics.

We in the Greater Bangor already work together across party lines. Many of us participated directly in bipartisan, cross-community efforts in the Bangor region with the Arena Yes! Campaign; Bangor residents, whether Democrats, Republicans or independents all came together to support a common cause. Through civil dialogue, and by taking the typical politics out of the issue, we came together and demonstrated that common sense solutions can be reached.

That is one reason why we know OneMaine will be embraced in our community: Many of our friends, neighbors and colleagues are already OneMainers, whether they know it or not. The percentage of unaffiliated voters only climbs as gridlock in Washington demonstrates why partisan politics divide when we need to come together.

In a July Washington Post-ABC News poll, 80 percent of people polled were either “angry” or “dissatisfied” with the way Washington works. According to the Post, this is the highest percentage in two decades.

While the same polling hasn’t been done specific to Augusta, we know that people are also frustrated with the current state of our political dialogue in Maine.

As the Bangor Daily News editorialized this spring (“Maine’s Middle Man,” April 7), “If the OneMaine PAC can raise money and distribute it to candidates, from any or no party, who embrace these mixed-bag views on the issues of the day and our legislative process is transformed, Mr. Cutler can rightly claim to have made Maine a better place.”

We agree, and hope you will join us in this important effort.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, OneMaine is having a launch party in Bangor, and we hope you’ll come and hear for yourself about this exciting new movement. The event is at Paddy Murphy’s, 6-8 p.m., and we look forward to seeing you there.

The OneMaine Penobscot County Leadership Team includes Tony Brinkley, Andrew Hamilton, Jim Page, Clare Payne, Sarah Morehead and Miles Theeman.

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