Democracy is under attack by the two major parties. Independent voters represent the largest group, and yet they are not allowed to vote in the primaries when it really matters. Thanks to gerrymandering, far too many elections are decided in the primaries rather than in the general election. Thirty-five percent of Maine voters are automatically excluded from the process. If you are conservative but live in a blue area, voting is a useless practice, and vice-versa. It is absurd that there are so many artificial roadblocks to participating in the process.

We constantly talk about the polarization of the two parties, but this closed primary system, which many of our leaders support, creates a dynamic that supports this polarization. In this system, dissent within the parties is silenced, as any critique could help the other party. In this system you can ignore or be antagonistic to the majority of the people you are supposed to represent. This creates leaders who are unaccountable to the people. The only people in control are the donors who write large checks to get their candidate elected.

Here in Maine I believe we still have a robust democratic system, in large part thanks to our many activists who work to hold power to account. The Maine people are just like people elsewhere, we are interested in higher wages, lower cost of living, healthcare, and many other issues which will benefit our lives in material ways.

These issues are overwhelmingly supported among independents, Democrats and Republicans as well, but they never get the attention they deserve because our leaders are not accountable to us; they are accountable to their donors. Making Maine an open primary state is one big step towards fixing this issue.

 

Storme St. Valle

Waterville


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