Letter: Don't let Woods pull the wool over your eyes

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I enjoy reading Steve Wood’s thoughtful commentaries in The Forecaster. And once I wade through his heir of superiority I’m often impressed with his on-target assessments and insights. I can’t say this is true, however, for “The party is over, it’s independent day.”

Woods encourages Democrats and Republicans alike to bail from their party and unenroll. He says we should “stop fueling these two self-serving partisan machines.” While I understand his frustration with this bizarre election cycle, like it or not, the nuts and bolts of our government encourages (almost mandates) a two-party system. It’s almost impossible to envision how a third party could ever get a foothold and be successful. So bailing to the “independent” moniker is nothing more than waiving a white flag. It says, “I’ve given up trying to solve the problems within my party and my government.”

I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, choose a party and work your tail off to change what you don’t like within that party. Do what the tea party did and wrestle away significant control of an organized party’s message and strategic direction. Fight for what you believe in, and you may be surprised how many people join your crusade. Or you can do what Woods did, and just throw up your hands and unenroll and join the sheep in the middle with no party affiliation, infinitesimal power in Augusta or Washington, and no discernible convictions.

Andy Wright
Cumberland Foreside

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  • SteveWoodsME

    Andy – Thank you for taking the time to comment on my most recent column. While I have no issue with your criticism of my position on “party politics” – I’d like to amplify my thoughts in the context of your final sentence; “Or you can do what Woods did, and just throw up your hands and unenroll and join the sheep in the middle with no party affiliation, infinitesimal power in Augusta or Washington, and no discernible convictions.”

    -“sheep in the middle?” From my experience as both an elected official and as a candidate for office, a much higher percentage of “party” voters blindly follow/support their own party candidates regardless of qualifications – than unenrolled voters – who by definition and practice typically vote for the “best” candidate as their sole criteria. (I’ll leave it to others to decide where to most accurately assign ruminant mammal behavior.)

    -“infinitesimal power?” Current U.S. Senator and former Maine Governor Angus King was/is Unenrolled/Independent and it could be argued that he has functioned with ample “power” and effectiveness in both vital roles. It should also be noted that up until just a few months ago that Bernie Sanders held the distinction of being the longest serving “independent” in U.S. congressional history – only enrolling as a democrat to meet presidential campaign requirements. Regardless of Sander’s success in his current pursuit of the White House, can anyone argue that the core essence of his ethos/passion/civics (and “power”) is directly born from his “independence” from 1979-2015?

    -“no discernible convictions?” To be clear and “crystal-cernable” (not a word – but it should be!) I care deeply about Maine and our great country – but our political system is clearly broken. When other GOP presidential candidates scream that Orange Donald is a “dangerous con man” who will put everyone on the planet at risk – yet pledge their support if he’s the nominee for the most powerful role on earth – it’s BROKEN. When both parties exploit campaign laws, voting redistricting, partisan appointments, etc. – to serve the preservation and expansion of their own power(s) – over the best interests of citizens – it’s BROKEN. My central belief and core conviction is that until we revamp and open up our current two-party system of politics/government, there is too much self-interest, self-dealing, and self-perpetuating power mongering – than our democracy will continue to suffer.

    Finally, our country was founded on a brilliant system of laws, checks & balances, federal & state delineations, along with a strong constitutional fiber that holds it all together. But, like every “system” ever devised by man, there are inherent flaws and clear areas of improvements needed that should evolve along with society itself.

    That is where we’re at today. And until we can decouple the organizations that “own” the political power (Dems/Reps) – there is no practical way to expect or compel those holding the power, to go against their own interest and let it go, in favor of the common good.

    Now that I’m unenrolled from any political party and unencumbered from party pressure to put partisan objectives and dogma ahead of “what’s best,” I’m free to support people and policies on merit, rather than membership.

    I’ll continue to urge others to do the same.

  • Chew H Bird

    Last time I checked, about 40% of Maine voters are not Democrat, Republican, or otherwise affiliated with a political party. I would not term these folks “sheep in the middle”, but reasonable people who are free thinkers and do not want to be associated with the corrupt political self interest groups of the major parties.