State of Maine: Spare us theatrics when what we need is leadership 

Debate number two for Maine’s U.S. Senate seat is a wrap, leaving the standing of the four candidates much as the first debate did. Sen. Susan Collins had recovered her equanimity, coming on a little more relaxed, a little less brittle. Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon remained in good command of the policy issues, avoiding the deer-in-the-headlights moment of her first debate. The polls haven’t moved much. Collins is lagging. 

A report from the Wesleyan Media Project tags their race as the most negative among Senate contests, with over two-thirds of their television ads rated “pure attack” ads. We know, we know! They are constantly interrupting our TV viewing with each other’s shortcomings politically, personally and husband-wise. Gideon is charged with going negative in over half of her ads, while Collins is closer to one-third. 

The Maine Democrats hit a new low this week, offering T-shirts that feature Collins portrait with the tagline: “Often Disappointed. Always Disappointing.” They’re also pushing totes that read “Totes Disappointing.” Get it? Do they not have the confidence to put their own candidate on their merch? It’s in-your-face disrespectful and Gideon should call them out. With the horror show going on at the federal level, can’t the Dems do any better than bringing the worst of that home to Maine? 

Independent candidate Lisa Savage remained the sole contestant focusing on her own policy proposals rather than the shortcomings of her opponents. Max Linn continued to add a dash of the wacky, this time awkwardly (Marco Rubio and the water bottle, anyone?) pulling a mask and scissors from under the podium and hacking the mask to bits “to protest government telling us what we have to wear.” Lisa Savage’s mild retort was that we do wear clothes. 

Linn enjoyed the gambit so much that later in the debate he grabbed a handful of mask pieces and cut them into smaller pieces. One wonders, did he pick all those pieces up after the debate or does he rely on others to clean up his messes?  

This was an unfortunate bit of theater given that less than a week later the president of the United States, his heirs and assigns and the horse they rode in on had been diagnosed with coronavirus due to their flagrant disregard for any precautionary measures—such as masks. Never mind. Flouting the rules is about freedom, right? It’s just that in this case, one person’s freedom is another’s death sentence. Max Linn, chop up your little mask if you will, shout at the other candidates to “Look at me, look at me! Woman up!” but you are a poor excuse for a would-be civic leader.  

 Take heart. We have now seen that if we fall ill, a team of 13 health professionals will come to our aid. How can we lose? Oh, wait. That’s only if you are President of the United States. Yes, there are plenty of reasons why all the stops should be pulled out for the President. His health, or lack thereof, has a major impact on all our lives, and on the very health of the nation. 

But though there may be a hierarchy in the care we get based on our status and financial resources, the bottom of that hierarchy is not less care, it is no care at all. In the U.S., 27 million people are uninsured. In Maine, it’s about 112,000 people, or 8 percent of our population. With the cost of health care, no insurance means no care. The alternative is a lifetime of crushing debt. 

So when we see the President’s personal physician march out of Walter Reed Hospital flanked by a fleet of white-coated (and masked) specialists ready to apply their collective knowledge to the one individual who has done more to encourage the rampant spread of coronavirus than any other, especially one in a position to have done quite the opposite, it is, to say the least, annoying.  

Here in Hancock County, the Maine CDC pegs us at 55 cases as of Oct. 4, one death and three hospitalizations. Our case rate per 10,000 people was fourth lowest in the state. We’ve tried hard and it has worked pretty well so far. 

It has meant serious disruption to the lives of every resident who has complied with CDC advice, and every business as well. Loss of income, reluctance to seek health care when needed, abandoned rites of passage and the foregoing of myriad community events that are the heart of our communities all add up to the most disturbing period of time in living memory. 

If we give up now it means we’ve wasted all these months of compliance. We have to stay the course.  


Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.

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