Consistency and exclusivity
As an independent, voting Maine citizen, I owe no allegiance to any party. With the vast field of Democratic candidates, I recommend that voting citizens pay close attention to the consistency or inconsistency of all candidates. Regarding the Democratic field, Bernie Sanders appears to be the one candidate who has professed more of that party’s current “progressive” platform. Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, has an impressive record for standing up to Wall Street forces in control of the current wealth disparity. But she was mute in backing Sanders in 2016.
Where were these Democratic voices when Sanders ran against Hillary Clinton? In my opinion, Sanders has been the most public in promoting the proposed “progressive” plan; but, to my deep concern, he has not spoken out loudly and clearly enough to rectify the exclusivity that plagues people of color, or different sexual identity, or national or ethnic membership, etc.
As a caucasian male, I am distressed to read news about the proposed citizenship question to the US Census questionnaire, which seems designed to keep power in caucasian hands. Exclusivity at some point comes around to bite the promoters of exclusivity. Promoting exclusivity is antithetical to the promotion of peace.
Time to close Cumberland dump
The current Cumberland Drowne Road Brush and Compost dump violates several DEP operating license criteria and, I believe, presents serious hazards to adjacent homes. The Town Council balks at closing it down.
Homeowners recently discovered that the brush dump and compost piles violate DEP size regulations, and that the town of Cumberland also violated its license by storing manure on site.
Last fall, high levels of methane gas were discovered near the dump, possibly caused by improper landfill capping. Despite the methane dangers, the Town of Cumberland has been piling heat producing compost and brush on top of the landfill, increasing explosion risks. Although additional vents were dug to release the gas, compost and brush can block vents. The town does not seem to take the issue seriously.
We need to get the dump off a landfill that has high levels of dangerous methane. For the safety and well being of neighboring homes, the Cumberland Town Council and Town Manager must stop the delays and close Drowne Road now.
Maine leads electoral reform
Of all the things Mainers have to be proud of, there is one thing that we should all celebrate that you won’t see plastered on any bumpers: we have one of the highest rates of voter participation in the country. There is more to do to keep it that way however, and opening up the primaries to unenrolled voters would help.
Maine has been a perennial leader in electoral reform: we have a public financing system for state races. Ranked-choice voting allows independents to be heard without handing victory to a candidate without a majority of support. Same-day voter registration allows more people to participate, which keeps turnout high.
There is one more reform that we need in our “two-party” system: open primaries. In a multi-party parliamentary system where party activists choose their candidates, such a reform wouldn’t be necessary. But in our two party system, we shouldn’t allow our prospective leaders to be chosen by a narrow segment of each party’s base. With 35 percent of Maine people not enrolled in a party, it is time to give those people a voice in the primaries.
Electoral College does not help Mainers
Contrary to some popular mythology, the Electoral College does not help Mainers, at least not those Mainers who believe in policies such as comprehensive health care, minimum wage, environmental protection, and who hope for an end to the Trump era.
While it is understandable that Republicans and Trump supporters approach the Electoral College as a fortress to defend minority government, it is not so easy to comprehend the behavior of the 21 Democratic representatives here in Maine who helped to torpedo the effort to undo this 18th century artifact, which was constructed to abet slavery and to repress popular interests.
Those who want the country to move towards a more comprehensive democracy do not benefit from a system which boosts the chances of minority candidates such as George W. Bush and Trump. Not even the odd district rule in Maine can compensate for the vast advantage which the Electoral College gives to the unwholesome alliance between corporate oligarchy and mindless nationalism. Neither does the lame argument that without our four electoral votes, presidential candidates will not bother to come here. They probably won’t come here anyway, and if they do, a symbolic visit does not translate into policies helpful to the state.
We need to extend, not limit, majority democracy in the US.