Today I will vote for Mike Michaud. Let’s vote Michaud in, LePage out, and remain engaged in the process beyond Election Day.
Of the two contending candidates, there is one who represents not only the very worst of vile politics, but also polar ideological extremism and abject dishonesty. That candidate, Gov. LePage, also happens to be someone we can no longer afford to have represent our state. I travel throughout the country for work often and regularly hear, “What the Hell is going on up there?” I used to have to explain that Maine is not a part of Canada, and now I have to explain away the behavior and posturing of our perpetually off-the-rails executive. That is our reputation in the LePage era. I don’t know if you caught it, by the way, but yesterday the governor joked about suicide. Very funny.
There are a handful of other candidates I would prefer over Michaud —candidates that offer more compelling and creative approaches—candidates that have records more representative of my ideals. Michaud is a centrist Democrat, which means he is much more conservative than I lean, and I tend to be skeptical of long-serving major party candidates. My head, though, is in this particular race, and the candidates I would prefer are not the two likely contenders. Cutler isn’t either.
Cutler won’t fulfill any of his campaign promises because in this match up, at this time, as he is not a contender. There are times to protest the fact that our options aren’t as ideal as we would like for them to be. There are clearer, less convoluted ways to go about this than insisting upon the candidate that will not win in this particular match. Advocacy and activism on behalf of ranked choice voting (or alternative election models), for example, and finance reform is elemental to that effort. I hope that if Cutler really believes he was the best candidate bested by a limited system, he will lend his voice, labor and resources to these ongoing efforts. I think we become so daunted by the amount of work we imagine required to realize these shifts in approach that we come to fixate on voting with so-called purity as we feel that vote is the only thing we have agency over. It is not. Much heavier, much more substantial structural change has been realized by idealistic and determined people and efforts toward realizing these aforementioned shifts are presently under way.
At this moment there are two contending candidates and a symbolic one (an infinite amount of symbolic candidates, actually, if you consider write-in options). Considering which is the absolute ideal right now as a means of sending a protest message is fine, but the outcome of this election will continue to affect us all. Do I have a number of problems with the Democratic Party? Absolutely. Am I going to continue taking them to task after the election? Definitely. Am I going to work and advocate for the structural changes I discussed above? You bet. Will I continue to fund groups, candidates and activists that advocate on their behalf of a more progressive vision? Indeed. Civic duty requires more than a half hour on Election Day. I routinely engage in a broader way throughout the year and so I am excited to vote for the better of the two contenders today as I am certain that it is not the very last statement I will ever make about this imperfect system. I encourage you to do the same.