Last week, a friend of mine introduced me to “the upside down” from the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” But I already feel like I’m living there.

I grew up in a Rockefeller Republican household. Before I went to register to vote, I asked my dad what the difference between the parties was — he told me the Republican Party believed in a balanced budget. On Thursday, the independent Joint Committee on Taxation announced that the Senate tax bill will add $1 trillion to the national debt over 10 years. It makes me think about a conversation another friend and I were having not long ago about who the real RINOs in the Republican Party are. Guess they would be everyone in the Senate except Bob Corker, the lone dissenting vote on the GOP side.

When I was in college, I was an intern in D.C. working for the House Education and Labor General Subcommittee on Labor. I attended several days of hearings on a bill that would provide relief for workers suffering from black lung disease. That bill would have affected a couple of thousand miners at the most. The tax bill just approved in the Senate, which will impact everyone in the country, had not one day of hearings. As Sen. Angus King noted, the Bangor City Council would not amend its leash law without hearings to understand the impacts, implications, and unintended consequences of what was being proposed.

Just a few select provisions from the tax bill in case the upside-down concept still isn’t clear.

We’re eliminating state and local tax deductions that fund public education, but we’ll now provide a $10,000 incentive for people to send their kids to private schools.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will soon be open for drilling, despite the overwhelming evidence that playing fast and loose with the environment has come back to haunt us with devastating economic impact.

There’s Puerto Rico, where American citizens have been living without power for months. The tax bill proposes to increase the island’s misery by applying a 20 percent excise tax on goods manufactured on the island and exported to the mainland United States because companies on the island are considered foreign corporations. Those companies are owned by businesses on the U.S. mainland, they are operating in a U.S. territory, and they are employing Americans.

Closer to home, there’s the upside down of Medicaid expansion. Five times legislators of both parties voted to expand Medicaid. Five times it was vetoed by the governor. Last month voters made it clear by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent they want expansion. The governor made it clear he would do all he could to stop it despite support across the medical spectrum, the small business coalition, and multi-denominational religious groups.

There’s the refusal by the governor and too many Republican legislators to acknowledge the need to support immigrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum when the impact on our economy with its worker shortage is critical. Last week I met a young woman from the African republic of Djibouti who won a scholarship to graduate school in Turkey. She went to Turkey, took a year to learn the language, and graduated. She ended up in Maine and now has to wait six months before she can apply for any job. In the meantime, she is volunteering her time to support the work of the New Mainers Public Health Initiative in Lewiston. She is far from alone in her display of grit. There were 25 others doing the same in the NMPH meeting I attended. Are those not the kinds of workers we want to encourage in Maine?

Do not make the mistake of thinking that I’m ignoring the Democrats’ collusion in some of this upside-down mess. For six years in Maine we have been in need of an alternative vision to the Republicans’ efforts to make Maine prosperous with their thoroughly discredited trickle-down theory. A year ago, a majority of Mainers voted to support school funding, raise the minimum wage for all low-wage workers, and institute a system that would give us a governor who the majority of voters wanted in office. All of these initiatives were rejected with the help of Democrats.

Can we Democrats not articulate a vision that inspires people to reject the trickle-down theory and support a government that works for all of us before the 2018 elections?

Recently, a good friend became a citizen after years of living in the U.S. The ceremony was a moving testimony to the belief that there’s reason to believe the United States of America still stands for something good. At a time when I’m feeling I’m in the upside down, I thank all of those new Americans for providing hope that living in the right side up is still possible.

Karen Heck is a resident and former mayor of Waterville.

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