The politics of fear

The state of Maine and its people have not been well served by the gubernatorial campaigns of incumbent Republican Paul LePage and Democrat Mike Michaud, which have been characterized largely by the politics of fear. Each of the candidates and his supporters have spent an inordinate amount of time and money pointing to all manner of dire consequences if the other is chosen as Maine’s chief executive for the next four years. Neither has offered much more than vague promises about what he will do to strengthen the state’s economy and move us forward.

Of the three candidates for governor, independent Eliot Cutler best displays many of the characteristics Maine needs, just as he did four years ago. In debates and in conversations with voters, Cutler shows a keen intellect and solid grasp of the issues confronting our state and offers specific and thoughtful proposals to address many of them. He understands the need for consensus and that the state’s chief executive ought to shun a my-way-or-the-highway approach or unyielding partisan stance in deliberations with those with different points of view.

But that may not be enough. Four years ago, Cutler came on strong in the final weeks of a five-candidate race only to lose narrowly to LePage. While Maine has elected independent governors in the past, the path to the Blaine House is much tougher for any candidate without backing by a major political party. With just days remaining before the election, polls have not indicated a similar surge for Cutler, who is trailing both LePage and Michaud by significant margins.

The names of all candidates on Tuesday’s ballot will be accompanied by his or her political party affiliation. But thoughtful ideas and practical considerations do not reside solely with Republicans, or Democrats, or those of any other political persuasion. We fervently hope that voters will have taken a close look at the qualifications and views of each man who seeks to be Maine’s chief executive for the next four years. They should – in good conscience – vote for the person they believe will most effectively represent their interests and fulfill the responsibilities of the office in question. Informed voting is what every election should be about.

Our state frequently ranks among the best in the nation for voter turnout in major elections. May that be true again on Tuesday!

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