All Maine Matters

June 2006



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It’s Worse Than Mud Season
by David Hughes

It’s here. No, not mud season though mud season might be more preferable. It’s campaign season. Once every two years we’re treated to political critters walking around in neighborhoods and, unlike black flies, you’ll rarely see them in once the season ends.
Since the coming 5 months is the only chance most of us will have to observe and interact with political critters it might be handy to have a guide kicking around on how to identify the particular political critter you have before you. Do you have a panderer?

Those are the worst of the lot no matter what party they are in. Do you have a “leftist Liberal? For reference Maine’s government for the last dozen or so years has been fairly Liberal. Perhaps you’ve come across the very rare and seldom heard “Rabid Conservative”. About the only time we hear from one of them is when some Liberal wants to scare us. I don’t know if that’s for lack of backbone on the Conservatives part or how easy those Liberal types think it is to scare us.

So, how do you find out what kind of politic critter you have before you? You ask them “how” questions. Can’t ask them “what” questions ‘cause they’ve all pretty much figured out that the free lunch comes with mimicking the right sound bite replies. So if you really want to be able to identify your political critter you have to ask them how questions.

Now we all know that every political critter out there is going to tell you they support making health care more affordable and available to more people. Question is, how are they going to do that.

Do they propose the state running a health insurance company that drives the other insurance companies away leading to the state being the only health insurance provider left standing. Perhaps they would like to expand MaineCare, yet again, and put the whole cost onto the taxpayers.

Of course, you might just find one that wants to make some sensible reforms to the insurance regulations while instituting a program to help those who the reforms would hurt. Rare breed that one, if you find one you’ll have to do some further checking to see if you have your run of the mill conservative or if you have one of the “rabid” variety. Can’t be too careful when dealing with rabies now can we?

All those political critters are also going to tell you that they support a strong economy or want to work for job creation. Now this is the question that quickly splits out the Leftist Liberals from the Rabid Conservatives and whatever isn’t one of those is something that is closer to representing all of Maine’s values….or a panderer.

If your political critter says that taxes need to be slashed and regulations need to be repealed and the miracle of the free market will create jobs….that’d be one of them there Rabid Conservatives. The Leftist Liberal is going to tell you about how he has an idea for some new government spending scheme to create jobs or encourage business growth….if government spending created jobs then why doesn’t the government just spend enough to give everyone a job?

Here’s the dirty little secret most political critters don’t know about business and economic development. Business critters, those folks who own and run the business, are people. Most people hate uncertainty. People like to know that what they face when they got up yesterday is the same thing they are going to face when they get up tomorrow unless they go looking for something different. More important than cutting taxes is just simply leaving the rules alone long enough for a business critter to make a buck and expand.

Quality of life issues will be pretty big this year if forecasters are correct. Environmental issues can be lumped in with that. It’s an important issue. We Mainers love our outdoor heritage. We understand that you’re not going to get much hunting done if there are no deer, moose and bear out there to hunt. We understand that camping in a parking lot isn’t much fun. We also know packing water in with you stinks and clean streams are more convenient. We understand all that.

We also understand that you can’t eat a quality of life. You can’t heat your home with it, run your car with it, pay the mortgage with it or pay a doctor with it. So how do you tell your political critters apart based on the quality of life question? Dunno, depends on how well you yourself value and define quality of life issues. But here’s some guidelines for the task.

If you value hunting and guns ask your cornered political critter if they have ever supported Rep. Ethan Strimling on a gun bill. If they have then that political critter isn’t a keeper for you and is likely of the Liberal variety.

If you value access to pristine forests with few restrictions then ask your political critter if they support capping the amount of land the state or a county can own at 20%. If they do then that political critter is for you. If the political critter refuses to agree that capping the amount of land the state or county can own is a good idea then the political critter before you is working under the belief that Maine would be much better off as a federal park and is likely a Leftist Liberal.

Keep in mind that Maine has converted about 4 million acres of farm land to forest land over the last 100 years. One has to wonder how much more land we have to give back before we’ve saved enough of it from greedy developers trying to make an honest living. I mean, only 98% of the state is forest land….I’m sure we can somehow manage to figure out a way to get that last 2%. After all, we are Mainers, we love our quality of life.

The real trick to figuring out which type of political critter you have before you is letting them think that you agree with them so they open up and tell you what they really think. The problem is we can’t let them try to dazzle us with generalities. Make them tell you “how” they want to see things done. Politicians love “what” questions because they can talk in abstract theory. Most politicians hate “how” questions because answering those questions pins down the politicians stripes…and once that’s done the old saying applies: “A tiger does not change its stripes”.

David Hughes is a stay at home dad from Lewiston who is running for house district 72 in Lewiston. He has a firm belief in honest government that is truthful and held accountable by the people.