Restore decency in politics
It’s no secret to people who know me — I oppose Donald Trump on just about everything. But the erosion of basic human decency since the election is at a level I’ve never seen before. Children were taught to be kind: don’t bully, don’t call people names, and don’t hurt someone’s feelings. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Now name-calling and violence are applauded and sometimes encouraged. Proven lies mean nothing. Mean is acceptable. Many adults are saying absolutely hateful things and don’t care that children are listening.
As a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, I was never a supporter of George Bush or Ronald Reagan, but they were never like Trump. I never felt the need to join resistance groups to protect our democracy, the middle class and the poor. They weren’t hateful, mean-spirited men.
I hope adults still want children to live in an America that values human decency, but I’m afraid we’re at a point of no return. We each need to decide what is acceptable — immediately.
The kids are alright
I send warm appreciation for David Farmer’s June 1 BDN column, “Politicians dither, kids take action.” For nearly 15 years I’ve been a teacher of ethics with ninth- through 12th-grade students in the Watershed School in Camden. They are eager to identify core values, skills for making ethical decisions, choosing effective ways of action that lead to better results for social justice. They are not frightened when there is difference of opinion. They seek possible dialogue in pursuing creative resolution of conflicts. They are, indeed, “activists” of the best kind — the type who have produced our most cherished democratic institutions. These aren’t just our “kids”; they’re students, colleagues, responsible young adults.
No honor in Confederate cause
I often see the Confederate battle flag on a front porch as I drive Maine’s roads. What kind of statement is this?
Southerners refer to the Civil War as “the war for southern independence.” Any historian will tell you southern independence meant just one thing — preserving slavery and the southern economic system that depended upon slavery to be viable.
Slavery is the most heinous institution ever derived. It takes a person’s freedom away completely, for life; subjects them to abuse and torture; takes their children away; means sexual abuse for the women; and reduces men and women, children of God, to cattle.
Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, and his wife, Frances, took a trip south before the war. They encountered a slave trader herding a group of 6- or 7-year-old boys, chained together and crying for their mothers. Frances ended her journey and never again went South. When I think of slavery, it is of that image. When I think of southerners fighting for state’s rights, I remember that image.
Robert E. Lee was trained at West Point. He took an oath to defend the United States and its Constitution. He violated that oath, and he is a traitor to this nation as surely as Benedict Arnold. Every man who fought for him was a traitor.
The war killed 750,000 and resulted in massive destruction of property. In the end, slavery was abolished. There is no honor in the Confederate cause. Why would anyone fly its flag?
Support STEM jobs in Maine
When I learned that a full-time position as a research assistant was available at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor after my graduation from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, I jumped at the chance to apply. I had been offered a job in Idaho, but I wanted to stay in Maine to be near my family in Aroostook County.
I am fortunate to have found a job here, but many Maine graduates in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields have to go out of state. That’s why it’s so important to vote “Yes” on Question 1, a bond referendum on the June 13 ballot to support job growth in Maine through investment in research, development and commercialization.
Maine’s educational institutions are generating well-trained students, but job creation isn’t keeping pace. The development of a vibrant science and technology sector is critical to creating long-term growth and prosperity for Maine, as well as opportunities for Maine’s STEM graduates.
Maine already has the nation’s highest median age, which can be attributed as a factor in Maine’s lagging economy. The state’s advancement depends on attracting and retaining its millennial workforce. By casting your ballot for Maine jobs on June 13, you can improve Maine’s retention of talented young STEM graduates.
Amend Constitution for ranked choice
The people of Maine voted for ranked-choice voting last November because they are tired of politics as usual. Ranked-choice voting causes candidates to adopt a more civil tone during campaigns and allows more political parties and independents to play a meaningful role in our democracy.
When I voted last November, I was aware that there may be some constitutional concerns regarding ranked-choice voting, but I fully expected our Legislature to amend the Maine Constitution to match the will of the people. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court confirmed an amendment would be necessary for ranked-choice voting to comply with the Constitution for legislative and gubernatorial general elections.
I was disappointed to learn that our Legislature had reservations about amending the Constitution to match the will of the people, but I was shocked to learn that they were considering repealing ranked-choice voting altogether. There is no constitutional justification for delaying the implementation of ranked-choice voting in federal elections or state primaries. The people of Maine chose ranked-choice voting in November.
Why aren’t our legislators respecting that choice? I believe they are afraid of ranked-choice voting. They are afraid of facing serious challenges from independents and third party candidates. We cannot allow our legislators to disregard our wishes based on fear for their own political careers. We made our voices heard in November, and we must make our voices heard again. Contact your legislators and let them know we want ranked-choice voting.