The money is obscene.

Pretty much nobody thinks more money in politics is a good idea. Most people aren’t looking around at the situation in the nation and think, “You know what we need? A bunch more SuperPACs!”

And yet, every election cycle, the numbers tick higher and higher. Even in Maine, which certainly punches above its weight politically but is not a large state by population, will see millions of dollars spent here for our 2020 Senate race. And for what? To buy incredibly annoying radio and TV ads that don’t do anything except make you change the channel until the commercial break is over?

And why do the ads cost so darn much — they aren’t exactly Game of Thrones-style small-screen cinematic accomplishments. Soft lighting, plinking piano music, and a soothing yet grating voice that says stuff like “real Maine values” and “fighting.” Meanwhile, nobody on the ground is seeing any of those millions, which sucks, because Maine’s economy always needs a boost.

Enter Tiffany Bond.

Like a lot of people, particularly in the 2018 election, Tiffany Bond looked at Congress and thought, “I could do that.”

As an attorney (one of the good ones, I promise), with a focus in family law, she saw that federal law was making it harder to do her job effectively, so she decided to run for Congress to fix that.

As an independent, she isn’t bound to any political party (if elected, she says she would caucus with the majority in the House, Republican or Democrat, in order to best serve Maine). As a mother of two young boys, she is accustomed to chaos and multitasking. And as a nerd, she really does like reading proposed bills and laws. So she filed to run for Congress last year in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Like a lot of people, she wanted to take money out of politics. But unlike a lot of people, she actually — so to speak — put her money where her mouth was, and invented something called “MaineRaising.” In lieu of donations, she asked people who wanted her in office to either make a donation to a Maine charity, or purchase something from a small Maine business, and to leave a note name-dropping the Bond campaign and how it aims to redistribute small dollars locally. (Her website, bond4.me, has some templates you can use.) She shares these “donations” and stories through the #MaineRaising hashtag on Twitter, which Bond has mastered, with 43,800 followers. (And, if you have a Twitter account yourself, I highly recommend following her: @TiffanyBond).

The Maine Raising method may be the only occasion in which Mainers are OK with outside money coming into our political process. Because while we don’t want people from away dominating the airwaves, we definitely want them to buy our stuff.

In addition to hashtag MaineRaising, she also makes good use of the hashtag #cleartheprojects, and she uses her social media clout to steer online donors to DonorsChoose.org. If you have never heard of Donor’s Choose, it is a website that helps teachers raise funds for classroom supplies that they would like to have but can’t afford: upgraded seating, language books, class trips, art supplies, etc.

The state of Maine currently has 518 open projects waiting, with teachers asking for everything from library books to rubber boots. And if the fact that website even has to exist in the first place because we continually underfund our public schools makes steam come out of your ears — well, have you considered running for office?

That’s a cute idea, you might say, but spending money directly in the community, instead of donating to political campaigns will never work in the long run. It can’t scale up. You’ll never win.

Well, tell that to the 16,522 votes that Tiffany Bond received in her election. In 2018, she received 5.7% of the first-round votes, thus also throwing the race into ranked-choice runoff, and proving that ranked choice voting can, in fact, proceed calmly without the sky falling down.

But perhaps more importantly, she has already made a difference in the lives of Mainers. Other politicians may promise more money for education, but Tiffany Bond, using only Twitter (and, it must be said, more than her fair share of 007 magic), helped Ms. Jewett in Lewiston get a STEM lab for her classroom; Mrs. Drost in Mars Hill get personal finance tools for her students, and Mrs. Lebel in Oxford buy books for her students to take home to read.

Delivering concrete results where they are needed most. Now that’s something you can put in a fancy TV ad.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial

 

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.