Golden is running against former Congressmen Bruce Poliquin and Independent Tiffany Bond. I cannot bring myself to vote for any of them.
We got an envelope and card from Ms. Bond last week, which was a refreshing break from the glossy mailers supporting or attacking Mills, LePage, Golden and Poliquin with assorted lies and half-truths. Ms. Bond invited me to e-mail her any questions I had. She responded pretty quickly:
Received card from you today. I won't vote for Jared Golden because he doesn't support the First Amendment, having supported the For the People Act which seeks to regulate political speech. What is your position on that?
[I don’t take positions on bills that I haven’t yet read – I recognize that most members of Congress don’t take this stance…or even bother to read bills at all, which is a problem that I have with many members of Congress. As an attorney, if I send something into Court that I haven’t read, I get in a heck of a lot of trouble. The bill you are referencing is 884 pages (at least 14 hours of shallow review, unclear if it would need deeper review). It is unlikely that I will be able to carve out 14 hours to do a bill reading on that before the election given my schedule. What I can tell you is that I am a fairly fierce First Amendment advocate regardless of whether or not I agree with a statement/position.]
I won't support Bruce Poliquin, who has demonstrated a lack of backbone. He has refused to commit to impeaching President Biden over the open southern border. What is your position on that?
[I think that it’s very easy to blame the folks least at fault for problems, particularly if they have little to no power – this applies to immigrants, vets, our senior citizens, etc, etc. The fact of the matter is that issues at our southern border are caused by Congress spending decades neglecting our immigration laws, creating needless pressure and inappropriate incentives for folks to not follow process. Both Jared Golden and Bruce Poliquin have had a whole bunch of words out of their mouth holes telling us that they are spending money on border security – but I can’t recall either one of them drafting or trying to rally colleagues to fix the actual problem, which is our immigration laws. No amount of money will fix the problem at the border until we fix the reasons why we have border issues. Both have had two terms in Congress, neither has made that a priority. For actual security, we long ago walled the portions that are practical and cost-effective to do. Additional walls are not cost effective. We have other technologies that are less expensive to operate, less expensive to replace/upgrade, and less invasive for property owners/wildlife. We should be focused on solutions that solve things, and are cost-efficient.]
I won't support a climate alarmist, because they are responsible for expensive energy and crony capitalism supporting wind and solar. Are you a climate alarmist?
[We have a world that is changing, and much like immigration, our Congress has been irresponsible and short-sighted in their planning and goals. We do not have an economy and systems that are resilient to those changes. It also costs a whole lot less overall to be well-prepared than to flail around after a crisis. It’s going to depend on your lens if you think I’m a “climate alarmist” – what I am in a planner who likes to balance short and long-term costs and problems. My method is to take the time available and the resources (man hours, money, etc) available to solve a problem, to add some buffer in time and resources, and make a plan to solve the problem that fits within what is available. Unfortunately, we have a Congress that focuses on fundraising and self-aggrandizement rather than doing their job of making wise and judicious shared purchasing decisions and helping resolve problems too complex and/or logistically impractical for us to resolve as individuals or small groups.]
My impression of your candidacy in 2018 was that it was designed to exploit ranked choice voting and defeat Poliquin. Is that incorrect?
[That is not correct, though I did not think Poliquin should remain in office. I don’t know that I think Golden should be in office either. I grew up in a GOP household and have never been a Democrat. What I am is also a frustrated voter – and a frustrated attorney. Doing my job is harder because legislators haven’t been doing their job well. RCV did factor into my decision to run in that I wasn’t interested in having either Dems or GOP chase me around and tell me I was ruining things based on which voters identified with me more. My views are a mix of political philosophies. I think RCV helps us get a healthier democracy because it encourages participation and lets those (like me) who don’t want to extort millions of dollars from people to run crummy ads have an opportunity to try new things and ask voters to take risks along with them. I used this to come up with different solutions for running a campaign in a way that is frugal, sustainable, authentic, helpful, and kind – attributes I try to emulate every day (though I’m not always 100% successful).
A few examples:
Fundraising – I find traditional fundraising for ads to be borderline-abusive and unproductive generally. Instead I wanted to find a way to use the money in politics more productively. After several calls to the FEC I was able to come up with my solution in MaineRaising. Instead of having people give me money, I asked them to shop at small businesses, donate to charities, and support our schools…but while they are doing it, I have them pass a note saying I rejected the money and asked them to invest in the community so to look me up. Everything is arm’s length, each person is purchasing something at market rate or getting a same dollar value tax deduction, I can’t be influenced, and I don’t have enough information over who spent what where to be able to be playing favorites with voters. It’s a win-win-win-win. If it catches, we could start looking forward to elections instead of turning off our TV to avoid commercials. (And it uses our most under-appreciated renewable natural resource, gossip)
Window signs – they are expensive, bad for the planet, ugly, and never all get collected. Instead I have window signs that folks can download, print, tape in the window of a car/home/business, and recycle or start their fire with at the end of the season.
Postcards/notes – I’m in the trenches with my volunteers. They write postcards/notecards and so do I. Folks help as little or as much as they want. I stay up at night after our boys have gone to bed writing notes out too. That’s what neighbors do – they don’t spend millions on impersonal, slick mailers.
We’ve got to rethink how we do politics. I know I don’t fix in any box…we shouldn’t have such ridiculous and corrupted boxes. We need folks who come with their thinking caps on and who understand how difficult it is for rural areas. I’m always shocked that we have “leaders” that do things like whine about paper mills closing but don’t look at those facilities and come up with industries that would fit well there with a back-up plan (or two, or three) waiting for sites we know are going to need something new. Why don’t we have plans ready for insulin production (similar power needs and rough process with boilers and whatnot to paper manufacturing), or indoor agriculture (tall buildings with abundant water access and adequate power)? Despite the parties both insisting we have different problems and that they are all caused by the other party - we have the same problems, and quite a few paths to solve them if we can start hiring people who are up for a problem-solving adventure.]
I give Ms. Bond credit for her straight if somewhat deluded responses, but I won’t be voting for a Congressional representative in 2022. None of them have earned my vote or deserve my support.
Jon Reisman is an economist and policy analyst who retired from the University of Maine at Machias after 38 years. He resides on Cathance Lake in Cooper, where he is a Selectman and a Statler and Waldorf intern. Mr. Reisman’s views are his own and he welcomes comments as letters to the editor here, or to him directly via email at [email protected].