Topical articles from members of our community.
Maine’s Democratic Traditions
Like many people in my generation, I gave up on network television, and hence the 24-hour news cycle, over a decade ago. This December, however, as broadcasts blared incessantly from a family member’s television, I was reminded how large, looming and apocalyptic network news can be – challenging all of us to believe we can make a difference in this expansive, complicated world.
I suppose, though, there is a reason “Think Globally, Act Locally” is a saying with a long legacy. It provides hope, slicing a pie otherwise too big to bite into manageable pieces. In Maine we are fortunate to benefit from policies designed to keep power in the hands of our people.
Did you know that fewer than half of the 50 States provide the opportunity for a citizen’s initiative to alter State statute? The recent “Yes on 1 Campaign” to block CMP’s transmission line is a recent high-stakes and successful example. The only other state on the East Coast that gives this type of power to its people is Massachusetts.
Similar to the citizens’ initiative, but not exactly the same, the referendum allows citizens to either uphold or appeal a recently enacted law. It also exists in fewer than half of the 50 States. It was recently used to bring the leverage of ranked choice voting (RCV) to Maine’s populace sooner, rather than later.
Ranked Choice Voting
Only two States in the entire country have enacted RCV statewide – Maine and Alaska! Why does RCV matter? Because it allows one to vote passionately and practically. If your preferred candidate happens to be outside or on the fringes of the one of the two major parties, you can still cast your vote for that person without risk of “splitting the vote” or “throwing the election.” If your first-choice candidate doesn’t receive a threshold of votes, then your vote is credited to your second choice candidate.
It’s not new news that Maine is only one of two states to split its electoral votes; however, the fact that Maine has been doing this since 1972 does not make it any less noteworthy. In fact, recent history makes it all the more so. Maine’s electoral votes have only been split twice – in the two most recent presidential elections. While the answer to the nation’s electoral college woes is complicated, no doubt an alternative to the “winner take all” system better reflects the diversity of the citizens within a state’s borders.
How did Maine so disproportionately end up with so many policies that taken together exist in far fewer than half the States? I attribute it to Maine’s people, who are fiercely independent yet intrinsically woven together, caring for each other as much as they care for themselves. What we have to recognize now is that, as Mainers, we need to stay involved to keep it that way. We really can make a difference!
Making Political Donations Count
The midterm election is less than 10 months away. Besides supporting Maine Democrats up and down the ballot, we Democrats need to do what we can to maintain our majority in the Senate and House. Every day we receive requests for funding from candidates as well as Democratic committees and PACs. How do we choose which to support so that our contributions will make the most difference?
Sending money to a specific candidate or to national Democratic committees and PACs is certainly one way to go; however, supporting organizations focused on voter turnout may deliver the most bang for the buck. For one thing, it is likely that competitive federal and gubernatorial candidate campaigns and their allied PACs will be well funded. For another, voter turnout is bound to be just as critical in 2022 as it was in 2021, and remobilizing the Blue Wave will be challenging as midterm turnout is typically lower, especially among voters whose party is in power. While candidates and PACs often include activities to support voter turnout, there are organizations specifically focused on voter registration (VR) and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) activities, getting Democratic-leaning voters registered and to the polls.
VR and GOTV organizations worth considering include The Voter Participation Center, which focuses on registering people of color, unmarried women, and young people; The Center for Voter Information, which targets registering a broader population; and The Everybody Votes Campaign, which focuses on site-based voter registration efforts targeting communities of color. There are many national organizations such as Rock the Vote working on voter turnout, including supporting and training local grassroots groups. There are also organizations that have a broader approach, such as Stacy Abram’s Fair Fight, which, in addition to supporting voter turnout, also supports voter protection and progressive leaders. Then there are organizations such as Indivisible that have multiple missions, including providing local groups with tools to win elections, and Sister District, whichfocuses on voter turnout and supporting down-ballot races in key states.
For more information, consider websites such as Blue Tent, which helps progressive donors give with maximum impact by evaluating both electoral and nonprofit organizations, and Charity Navigator, whichevaluates 501(c)(3) charitable organizations that support voting rights.
Finally, don’t delay. Donating now, early in the election cycle, will have the biggest impact. VR and GOTV activities are most successful if they occur early and often, and can be especially effective if they bring local grassroots organizations into the process for training and collaboration, which takes time and money. Don’t underestimate the importance of making even a small donation. Small donors make a difference—in 2020, at least 20 million small donors gave a record-breaking $4 billion to federal races. Let’s dig deep again in 2022 to support our Maine Democratic candidates and our national Democratic agenda.
Larry Hobel and Diana Staring
Why I’m Involved
I am a Democrat.
Today’s political culture – be it statewide or nationwide – is failing my generation. Because of the pressing issues facing our country, we have been asked to put band-aids over gaping wounds. We have stepped forward to share our voices to protect the safety of our environment and ourselves, regardless of sex, gender identity, religion, race, ethnicity, and all other characteristics that makeup who we are. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to raise my voice during a time of hardship for our country.
Not infrequently I see a post on my Instagram feed, a notification on my phone, or a news story that makes me wonder: Why? Why is this happening? How could it have been prevented? And not infrequently I wonder what I can do to help. How can I speak for those who cannot? How can I play a part?
I have always valued the well-being of others and the promotion of compassion for all. I am most passionate about Civil Rights issues, as well as ensuring the safety and well-being of our schools, and on a larger scale, our planet. As a young person, I believe that my voice is important in keeping our democracy alive. I believe that my voice is important in advocating for myself and others. I believe that my voice is important in maintaining my place – and rights – in this country. I believe that we all must speak out when we see injustice. Protest. Advocate. Practice passive resistance. Communicate. Share stories.
I am involved in politics to do all of these things. When in college, I plan to be a journalism major with a minor in political sciences. I want to spend my life experiencing cultures different from my own and hearing stories from individuals. I want to learn more about governmental policies and decision-making processes. I want to continue advocating for my passions and priorities.
We, as a county, state, and nation, must work together to achieve our goals for each other and for ourselves.
I am a Democrat, and proud to be one.
Grade 10, Morse High School