George W. Bush's sister, Doro Bush Koch, traveled to Maine last weekend,
following on the heels of the president's recent visit to the state. Several weeks ago, first lady Laura Bush also rallied here.
Three Bushes in such a short period of time? While it might seem that the first family might be searching for a new vacation spot, political scientist Christian Potholm had a better answer: "I don't think they would be sending the president to Bangor if they didn't think they had a shot at all four (electoral) votes."
The Bushes clearly understand that this year, Maine's residents may be decisive in selecting the next president. Luckily, these visits from the Bush family have helped clarify how Mainers should vote this November.
Laura Bush declared that "W stands for women" during her swing through Maine last month. It is our understanding that the first lady reads the newspapers for her husband, but it seems she missed the articles where George W. Bush declared himself a "war president."
That seems to accurately describe our president - but we give credit to Laura Bush for trying to help her husband. In fact, we'll say that her "L" stands for loyalty. Unfortunately for residents of Maine, loyalty won't give us health care, livable wages or a woman's right to choose, and it won't save our environment. Our self-proclaimed "war president" has lived up to that description, declaring war on women's rights, equal civil rights, working people and the environment.
Both of us are elected officials and members of the Green Party, but given the destructive record of the Bush administration and the threat posed by a four-year continuance thereof, we are compelled to break with tradition and, at grave risk to our party status in Maine, ask voters in battleground states such as Maine to support Democrat John Kerry.
TIPPING THE BALANCE IN CLOSE STATES
Though we are pulled by loyalty to our party, unlike Mrs. Bush, we won't allow blind allegiance to come before the interests of Maine residents.
For four years, we have watched an unchallenged right-wing cabal allow corporations to pollute our air and water, while diverting funds from our schools so that the Bush administration can play G.I. Joe with the lives of Maine's servicemen and women. As Green Party officials, we won't stand by and watch this happen.
Even as Maine Democrats have waged a relentless war against our highest elected official, John Eder, by redistricting him out of his seat, we ask our supporters to vote for John Kerry in the state. We do this because it is the right thing to do. We are not scared to do so, as we know that Mainers take pride in their independence, and are wise to the severe failings of, and the dirty tricks played by, the two corporate parties.
President Bush has pulled even with John Kerry in polls tracking the preferences of Maine voters, and now is not the time for Greens and Democrats to allow their differences to better Bush's chances of re-election.
Because November's election is likely to be so close, progressives can play kingmaker and tip its outcome. Progressive solidarity is especially important in Maine, given its formidable liberal presence, its history of environmental activism and its many Green elected officials.
NADER DIVIDES THE LEFT
But despite the mainstream media's characterization of Democrats as unified and progressives as mobilized, former consumer advocate Ralph Nader continues to divide the left, bashing Democrats for shifting to the right and attacking the Greens for challenging his monopoly on the progressive vote.
The overwhelming majority of those who share our values, including the many constituents of elected Greens who live in Portland, believe the differences between Bush and Kerry are vast, making it imperative that Bush lose his re-election bid. We agree, and that's why we've formed the committee GreensforImpact.com to mobilize progressives against the Bush administration.
To foster a more cooperative political environment, we encourage the citizens of Maine to focus energy on implementing Instant Runoff Voting. Under IRV, voters rank candidates rather than choose just one. Candidates with the fewest first-choice votes are eliminated from the race, and the second-choice votes are transferred to the other candidates. This process is repeated until a candidate achieves a majority.
IRV allows voters to vote their consciences without the unintended consequence of aiding their political adversaries, diminishing the so-called "spoiler" problem. John Eder has introduced a bill to implement IRV. The reform is being studied by Maine's secretary of state.
Please continue to support Greens for local office, and vote for John Kerry for president this Nov. 2.
Rep. John Eder of Portland serves in the Maine Legislature and Stephen Spring of Portland is a member of the Portland School Committee.
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