I’ll admit I thought I’d be writing this from a different perspective, but the message is the same. What can we learn from the long election season and the final results?

I think almost every one of us can understand and describe meaningful shortcomings of the candidate we eventually supported. But the bigger picture is that our system rewards division, and maybe working against that is where we can and should put some committed effort.

We have seen the role that “whatever works is OK” played in this election: false statements, false fliers, false “newspapers” with false claims, and “new information” cited for a week and serving to color a candidate only to be told “never mind” at the 11th hour.

Here in Maine we have a model with a thoughtful and successful middle way, but not a cure-all. We’ve seen one individual running on an “independent” path help lead us successfully and another help lead us into a quagmire.

Perhaps what we need is a Maine political party running from the middle. The newly passed ranked-choice voting will help alleviate concerns about spoilers. The civility program, if taken to heart rather than worn as a token, may calm the role of negative campaigns.

The Republicans and Democrats can continue as parties with visions and agendas. Members of the Maine Party can serve in the middle. There will be three caucuses in the state Senate and House. The leader of a party can be strident, but that may not work as well. Appointments to committees won’t just go to senior members of a single dominant party. Even beyond appointments, getting anything done will take two parties finding common ground and combining efforts. Being unwilling will leave a party out in the cold — not a winning strategy.

Jim Perkins


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