Politics and Other Mistakes: Hayes is not taking sides

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She’s not taking sides

It’s nearly impossible to disagree with Terry Hayes – because it’s tough to disagree with somebody who hardly ever takes a stand on anything.

It’s true that Hayes, the state treasurer and an independent candidate for governor (and a person whose lawn signs identify her as “Terry! Hayes” because maybe she needed a more secure password), has occasionally taken positions on controversial issues. For instance, she backs ranked-choice voting, mostly because she’d hoped in vain that it would be used in this gubernatorial race, which would have been her only shot at winning. Back in 2012, she told a conservative columnist the influence unions exerted over the Democratic Party (of which she was then a member) was “a stinky infestation.” The following year, she supported a right-to-work bill sponsored by racist, homophobic, Republican state Rep. Lawrence Lockman that would have ended the requirement that public employees either join or support a union. But in more Hayes-like fashion, she told the Bangor Daily News, she had “no idea” whether she’d back another Lockman bill to extend the same rights to private-sector workers.

That vagueness is at the core of Hayes’ current campaign. Asked during an Oct. 10 debate whether she favored more restrictions on clinics that offer abortions or a bill that would have allowed physician assistants to perform that procedure, she said she couldn’t decide without doing more research. Then she added, “I would have to be persuaded in a significant way that the standards we have now are inadequate, and I’m not clear that they are.”

Pro-choice? Pro-life?

More like pro-confusion.

How did Hayes feel about the controversy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court? “Feel” might be too strong a word. “Mainers have elected Sens. Collins and King to represent them in this matter,” she told the Portland Press Herald. “The nation is watching and we need thoughtful, nonpartisan leadership now more than ever.”

Apparently, she’s unaware that even “thoughtful, nonpartisan leadership” has to vote yes or no, eventually.

When asked about economic development, Hayes is prone to saying stuff like Maine has to “lead with our assets.” Asked by the Press Herald about how that might work, she said, “As governor, I will unite Republicans and Democrats in support of a comprehensive economic development strategy to grow our economy, create jobs and make Maine the best place to work in the country.”

If that seems like the ultimate in meaningless babble, consider this from an op-ed Hayes wrote for the Bangor paper, in which she promised to engage in “collaborative problem-solving so you know exactly what kind of chief executive I’ll be.”

Increased funding for education? Hayes told the BDN she wants to have “an honest conversation about it.”

More municipal revenue sharing? In an interview with the Morning Sentinel, she said, “I think we should follow the law or change the law.”

The opioid crisis? During a forum in July, she offered this: “We’re going to have to spend money on this, and it’s your money we’re going to spend.”

Gun control? In the early days of the campaign (a couple of months ago), Hayes answered questions about this by saying she was undecided. Later, she endorsed background checks for private sales. Kind of.

Maine’s aging population? She told the Maine Sunday Telegram she was interested in “leveraging our growing retiree population.” Sounds painful.

Health care? On her website, Hayes proclaims her support for “universal basic health care,” then walks it back. “The details of such programs are critical,” she writes, “and require careful consideration, including how they will be funded.”

Broadband expansion? She’s in favor, so long as somebody else does the heavy lifting. “Local governments and communities are leading the way to reach this goal by doing the hard, innovative work to bring internet services to their communities,” Hayes says on her website. “Maine needs a leader in the Blaine House to extend reliable broadband to the entire state.” Apparently, that’s a leader who hasn’t promised to commit any resources to this effort.

What Hayes doesn’t seem to understand is that in politics, stuff gets done because somebody has the leadership skills, the nerve and the muscle to convince others to follow. Without that, calls for compromise are mostly window dressing, and any sign of civility is just for show. The system demands winners and losers.

I’m pretty sure Terry! (“Collaboration is critical to the long-term success of public policy”) Hayes doesn’t believe that. So, it’s good to find something on which she has a firm opinion.

Even if it’s wrong.

That’s realism, not cynicism. If you dare to disagree email aldiamon@herniahill.net.

Take a deep breath, then email Al Diamon at aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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