Maine can’t fight climate change alone
What a tremendous honor to have our governor, Janet Mills invited to speak this week at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York. She was invited to share her commitment to policies and actions to combat climate change making Maine carbon neutral by 2045. She is a leader with conviction, vision, courage and the guts to do what is right now and for the future of this world.
However noble her ambitions and desire, Maine cannot fight climate change alone in its own small cocoon here in the northeast corner of the country. It will require national action and policies by our federal government. There is a policy in Congress right now, H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Fee and Dividend Act. It’s a bipartisan policy placing a gradually increasing fee on carbon, returning the dividend to all individuals on an equal basis. It allows the free market to choose the winners and the losers, driving innovation and research in renewable energy. It is an approach supported by over 3,500 economists and many Republican luminaries such as George Shultz and James Baker from the Reagan years.
It’s time for Senators King and Collins to follow in the footsteps of our governor and be leaders, not politicians. It’s time to introduce a carbon pricing bill in the Senate.
An attack on our ideals
Conservatism means protecting those things which have the greatest value, which sometimes aren’t “things” at all, but ideals. Ideals and values are the foundation of democracy. They have a moral dimension and a sacred quality, calling us to respond to our “better angels” and serve something greater than ourselves.
Democracy’s founding ideals include the inherent worth of all persons, respecting their needs and interests; respect for truth, allowing us to make intelligent decisions as we participate in governing; and the belief that government exists to serve the public interest, not the interests of select persons or groups.
Because ideals are abstract, they are also fragile. Our better angels can be pre-empted when our baser instincts are evoked, especially fear and hatred. Rather than see our shared humanity, we then see alien and threatening “others” — and become fractured as a people. When truth is not respected, we lose our ability to make wise choices. When public officials place their own interests above the public interest, faith in government is lost.
I am less concerned by Donald Trump’s regressive policies than by his assault on the ideals that underpin our system of government. Our democracy is being steadily degraded by Trump’s normalizing of lies, self-dealing and demonizing anyone taking issue with him. His assault on democracy proceeds unchecked because the Senate Republican majority will not confront it. These “conservatives” are failing to protect what should be of greatest value to them, our democratic system of government.
Maine delegation should speak out against Trump
I urge all Maine members of Congress to speak out publicly against President Donald Trump’s blatantly corrupt behavior in his attempt to extort personal benefit from the president of Ukraine. I believe the reporting on the recent whistleblower’s complaint makes it clear that Trump deliberately halted aid to Ukraine until that country began an investigation of Joe Biden and his son in order to tarnish the former vice president and his candidacy. This is but the latest example of Trump misusing his official powers. The endless maligning of would-be migrants, people of color, particularly those of Muslim faith, his vulgar and vindictive words toward members of the media and his critics in general, his daily documented false or misleading claims, now over 12,000, make him unfit to continue as president.
Trump seems to have no respect for our government, or for governance. His public suggestion about being “president for life” and eliminating term limits, as Chinese president Xi Jinping managed to do, should be of great concern to our members of Congress. Concerning enough for them to demand his resignation or impeachment. Our democracy will not survive if they are silent.
If our representatives believe their own TV commercials touting effectiveness and independence – as opposed to being blindly partisan – they should speak out against Trump’s transgressions. And lead the way back to restoring respect for the rule of law here at home and around the world.