I saw in the paper the other day that Republican candidate for governor Chandler Woodcock has qualified to run as a clean elections candidate, and a rival in the primaries, Peter Mills, has submitted his $5.00 clean elections checks to qualify. Woodcock boasted that his clean elections status meant he could not be corrupted by special interests. His other rival, David Emery is running on private donations, as are Governor Baldacci and his primary opponent Chris Miller. Green candidate Pat LaMarche has submitted her checks to qualify as a Clean Elections Candidates, and some of the independent candidates will likely meet their later deadline.
What does this tell me? It tells me that in Maine, at least, people on the right are finally acknowledging that progressive values are Maine values.
Progressives believe in a government that invests in our communities' future and ensures fair treatment and opportunity for everyone. You can only do that with a democratic government, accountable to citizens, not special interests. Thus progressives have been at the heart of every major governmental reform movement in our nation's history, whether it was breaking up corrupt Democratic Party machines in large cities in the early twentieth century or passing federal campaign finance laws in the wake of the abuses of the Republicans in the Nixon administration.
George W. Bush, at an exclusive dinner event, said: "What an impressive crowd: the haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base." Republican candidates routinely boast about their campaign fund-raising. Perhaps the Republicans' proudest achievement is the gigantic slush fund created by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and power brokers like Grover Norquist. Republican Senator Tom Coburn predicts that at least six Members of Congress and one Senator will end up in prison for their involvement in this ambitious bribery and money-laundering scheme.
The result of this corrupt system is legislation written by the lobbyists, for their clients. For example, the prescription drug bill that created Medicare Part D was an enormous gift to the drug companies. A clean system would have allowed the government to negotiate for lower drug prices, as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs already does. This would have saved taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.
Similarly, Bush's energy bill was chock full of goodies for the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries that so generously financed his campaigns. There was little left for investment in the sustainable, renewable energy sources, which could ultimately eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.
The battle for the original Maine Clean Elections Law was led by a center-left coalition that included Maine Common Cause, Dirigo Alliance, Maine People's Alliance, League of Women Voters of Maine, Maine AFL-CIO, Peace Action Maine, Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Maine AARP. At that time, voters of all political persuasions agreed that this would produce a more responsive, effective government.
Responsible citizens all across the State are helping to strengthen Maine Clean Elections by checking the boxes on their Maine Income Tax returns to allocate $3.00 of their Maine taxes to support this fund. This year every tax client I worked with agreed to check that box, once I explained what it was for. Mainers still support Clean Elections. Learn more about how it works at www.mainecleanelections.org. And you could send in your own check to the Maine Clean Elections Fund!
Now, ten years later, 80% of all legislative candidates are running as clean elections candidates, and Republicans are running for governor as clean elections candidates. The leaders are finally catching up with the people!