Dill and King are not interchangeable

By Jean Hay Bright, Special to the BDN
Posted Oct. 18, 2012, at 12:33 p.m.

The job of a voter is to vote for the best candidate in a given race. To do otherwise is to distort the whole electoral process.

In all the strategizing that I’ve been hearing and reading around the state, I have not heard a credible argument why independent Angus King is a better candidate and would make a better U.S. senator than the Democratic nominee, Cynthia Dill. In fact, I’ve heard several arguments to the contrary, most frustratingly from those who proclaim that they will nevertheless vote for King.

If you think King is really the best candidate in this U.S. Senate race, by all means vote for him. But if you vote for him not because he’s your favorite candidate but because you are afraid of how other people will vote, you are in fact voting against your, and our country’s, best interest. I refuse to cast my vote for a lesser candidate based on that contorted thinking.

You would think “strategic” voters in Maine would have learned their lesson with the last gubernatorial race. Casting a vote based on polls and strategy instead of the competency of the individual candidate is exactly what got Paul LePage elected governor. Yet here they are again, spouting the same failed technique. It’s as if they are saying that King and Dill are interchangeable, so let’s all get behind one or the other — some even calling for Dill to bow out before election day if the “polls” show her behind.

But the two non-Republicans in this race are very different from each other and from the Republican, Charlie Summers.

Summers is a political clone of Sen. Olympia Snowe. If he is elected, we will have swapped a female Republican lapdog for a male Republican lapdog. The party headcount in Washington will not change. In fact, nothing will change as far as the Maine delegation is concerned — two Republican senators, and (probably) two Democratic members of Congress. Ho-hum.

If Dill is elected, the numbers in Washington do change and, in my estimation, for the better. The Democrats would gain a seat that has been in Republican hands for far too long. Dill would help her Democratic peers hold off the onslaught against Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, fend off more tax cuts for the rich, stop the onslaught against women’s rights, the environment, the saber-rattling over Iran and more. Dill would help bring back sanity and stability to Washington.

However, if King is elected, lots of things will change, but I can’t see that they will change in a good way. He will go to Washington as a man without a party, without a platform, without a structure that he can use to our state’s and our country’s advantage. He will flounder there.

King has refused to say which party he will caucus with because he is counting on the U.S. Senate being split 49-49, with him and Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders standing in the center aisle. Sanders, a left-leaning Independent-Socialist, caucuses with the Democrats, which leaves self-proclaimed “moderate” King, in that scenario, as the deciding vote.

King wants to have veto power, just like he did when he was Maine’s governor. King is running to be governor of the U.S. Senate.

But what happens if the U.S. Senate is not split down the middle? If one party holds a comfortable majority, King is left out in the cold. He will be a one-percenter in that 100-member body. His one vote, his permission, his voice, becomes irrelevant. Neither party would need him. For anything. And Maine loses.

So, I urge all you strategic voters to step back, look at the bigger picture and learn the lessons of history. Do the right thing for the right reason. Do your job as a U.S. citizen and a voter in the state of Maine. In this race and every race, vote for the candidate you really think would do the best job. And leave the voting booth feeling good about your choice.

It’s the only way we have of actually getting the government we want, and not the one we have to settle for.

Jean Hay Bright of Dixmont, now a semiretired organic farmer, ran against Sen. Olympia Snowe as the Democratic nominee in 2006.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/10/18/opinion/dill-and-king-are-not-interchangeable/ printed on July 28, 2014