The Maine Secretary of State’s voter registration data shows that 32% of registered Maine voters declined to enroll in the two major political parties, a number rising to 36% when you add voters enrolled as Greens. With all due respect and appreciation for partisan activists sincerely concerned with the well-being of Maine people, I’m inclined to believe the enrollment numbers demonstrate that large numbers of Maine people share my disgust with partisan politics.

The tens of millions of dollars being spent by both major parties on the U.S. Senate race alone is an offense to Maine people suffering from poverty, unemployment, low wages, food insecurity, homelessness, lack of health care, unaffordable property taxes, inadequate infrastructure, and the shortcomings of our education system.

Traditional campaigns are essentially giant marketing campaigns that, at best, “spin” and, at worst, misrepresent facts via broadcast advertising, mailers, robocalls, emails, texts and social media postings.  Those misspent millions enrich political consultants, broadcasters, printing houses, and social media giants while understandably breeding citizen distrust in politicians and by extension, government, as we know when we’re being sold a bill of goods.

Those of us old enough to have watched Ricardo Montalban hawk the “fine Corinthian leather” of Chrysler’s Cordoba now joke about “pleather.” Not so funny are decades’ worth of major party candidates telling Maine people, for example, that they support “access to affordable and quality health care,” to quote from Democrat Sara Gideon’s Senate campaign website.

And while Sen. Susan Collins’ campaign website curiously declines to offer “Our Senator’s” views on any issue of substance, during the candidates’ first televised debate, Collins predictably cited “affordability” and “access” while addressing her approach to our continuing health care system crisis.

Decades of major party lip service to “affordable and quality health care” has failed to deliver either to the approximately 10% of Mainers who have consistently remained uninsured despite enactment of Obamacare, Medicaid expansions, and the other “reforms” promoted by both major parties, never mind the explosive growth in Mainers who are now underinsured and assuredly agree that the only thing worse than being uninsured is paying to be uninsured.

To varying degrees, partisan liberals and conservatives lament the money game while embracing and justifying it as necessary to winning, which they assure us is done in our best interest.  I submit the money game is part and parcel of a system that, to a shocking degree in recent decades under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has prioritized profits over people, despite no evidence to support that “trickle-down economics” has improved the lot of the many, whose fortunes have continued to decline while the wealth of a tiny minority of Americans has exploded to obscene levels.

When the few have the lion’s share of the money, it should come as no surprise that the political money game recruits candidates with money and produces politicians beholden to money.  Is it any accident that both major parties’ Senate candidates, Collins and Gideon, are millionaires?

In 1948, three years after the allied victory in World War II, the United States joined 47 other nations in adopting the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being … including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

While we remain the richest country in world history, the U.S. has strayed far from those ideals in contrast to the many other fundamentally capitalist democracies that have long guaranteed health care as a basic human right and done more to secure societal well-being. To borrow from an ad run last month by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey: “We asked what we could do for our country.  We went out, we did it. With all due respect, it’s time to start asking what your country can do for you.”

One candidate in the Senate race, Lisa Savage, uncompromisingly refuses to accept corporate contributions and embraces the need for human and planetary welfare over Wall Street profits.

Visit Lisa’s website for her positions on many pressing issues of our time. If you agree with me that Lisa offers concrete proposals and her views align most closely with yours, take advantage of ranked-choice voting — which destroys the “spoiler” argument — and rank Lisa Savage as your first-choice U.S. Senate candidate when you vote this fall.

 

Alice Knapp runs a law practice in Richmond, where she has served on the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen. She was a founding board member of Maine AllCare, served as a board member of Consumer’s For Affordable Healthcare, and was the first director of the legislatively created Maine Bureau of Insurance’s Consumer Health Care Division. She ran for state Senate as an independent in 2004 and as a Green in 2014.


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.