BAR HARBOR — Author and journalist Douglas Rooks will talk about his book “Rise, Decline and Renewal: The Democratic Party in Maine” at the Jesup Memorial Library on Thursday, April 26, at 7 p.m.
With the election of Gov. Edmund Muskie in 1954, the Democratic Party reached new heights in Maine and went on to challenge the ruling Republican Party for the next two decades. However, after years of growth, the party hit a period of decline.
Rooks recounts Muskie’s election and the 20-year period that followed. During this time, the Democratic Party created wide-ranging reforms that made Maine a governmental model. But years of success and growth were followed by political and institutional decline, and the vision that had once galvanized Democrats faded, elected officials clung to power, and legislators failed to provide good representation for the citizens who voted for them.
In the final chapters, Rooks looks at the future and how Maine’s largest political party can again seize the initiative, energize a new generation of young people and govern in the public interest once more. While “Rise, Decline and Renewal” focuses primarily on the evolution of the Democratic Party, it makes a strong case that only a vigorous two-party system, based on competition rather than endless conflict, can restore Maine’s state government to health.
“Through decades of writing, Doug Rooks has chronicled, with unparalleled insight and devotion, Maine’s politics,” said former GOP State Sen. Peter Mills. “Now, Rooks tells where these leaders came from, and in the process tells Maine’s story: its sudden metamorphosis into a two-party state; the successes of reform; recent periods of strife; and the author’s prescriptions for future progress.”
Rooks served as editorial page editor for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and as editor and publisher of Maine Times; he has written about state government and politics for 33 years, earning numerous national and regional awards. His biography of George Mitchell, “Statesman: George Mitchell and the Art of the Possible,” was published in 2016.
Books will be on sale that night courtesy of co-sponsor Sherman’s Books. Contact the Jesup at 288-4245 or [email protected].