On Sept. 8, the headline on the column by Greg Kesich says: “We’re more than just consumers.” We’re citizens, he goes on say, which “means you are a member of a political community. In the United States that means you have rights — like the right to vote.”

Not true. The largest plurality of voters in America (over 40 percent of all registered voters) are independent voters. Of America’s future, the millennials, about 50 percent now identify as independents. And these voters cannot participate in primaries, where nominees for president are selected.

Maine voters don’t think that this is right. In 2017, Mainers for Open Elections and the national Open Primaries organization sponsored a survey, and it found that nearly 75 percent of all registered voters in our state — Democrats, Republicans and independents — believe that taxpayer-funded primaries should be open to all voters. Why do the Maine Legislature and Congress support party control over primary ballot access? Isn’t this undemocratic and un-American? Why support this “party voter prison”?

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A 2017 Harvard Business School study by political reformer Katherine M. Gehl and professor Michael E. Porter gives this reason: “The (U.S.) political system isn’t broken. It’s doing what it is designed to do. … The real problem is that our political system is no longer designed to serve the public interest, and has been slowly reconfigured to benefit the private interests of gain-seeking organizations: our major political parties.” Gehl and Porter conclude that the system’s rigged!

Former U.S. Rep. Mickey Edwards, R-Oklahoma, warns us about the need to end party control in his New York Times bestseller, “The Parties vs. the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans.” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., does the same in a 2014 New York Times op-ed headlined “End Partisan Primaries, Save America.” However, politicians in his state are saving “We the Party”-preserving partisan primary elections. Maine stumbles down a similar political road. But for how long?

Is an election lawsuit in Maine’s future? The Independent Voter Project recently filed a voting rights lawsuit against the state of California. From paragraph 18 of the complaint: “A semi-closed primary gives private political parties and their loyal members a decided advantage in the public election process.” Maine also has a partisan primary. Let’s do better. Let’s not settle for a semi-open or semi-closed anything!

Let’s heed Maine’s motto and lead and act with vision like the giants of Maine’s past. At Maine’s centennial kickoff anniversary celebration, Gov. Janet Mills noted that the first Maine governor, William King, ensured in 1820 that Maine bestowed voting rights on all men regardless of race. It was the political moon shot of that day. This was more than 40 years before the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Can’t we Mainers dream a dream as big as the one Gov. King dreamed and achieve it for the sake of Maine and America?

Let’s call upon Gov. Mills, the Maine Legislature and our congressional delegation to rise above impossible odds and reshape the Maine and national political systems once more! Our parties need to win the people’s hearts and minds rather than enchain voters in a prison financed by public funds. Otherwise, the demographics of this voter tidal wave will sweep the parties away like sand pebbles upon a beach.

Mainers, let’s lead America to total voter freedom and greater candidate choice in the primaries through the presidential elections within a public (nonpartisan) election system. Since we pay, we should have the final say on how our election system is designed, built and operated. Let’s put “We the People” before “We the Party.” We are all Mainers and Americans first. America’s life depends upon it.


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