Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Vote Savage first, Gideon second with RCV

A week ago, I did my absentee ballot and mailed it. Having worked for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), I was glad to use that innovative instrument to make Lisa Savage, Green Independent my first choice for US Senate, and Democrat Sara Gideon my second. I then stopped. I recommend you do the same. Lisa is a bright and articulate woman who does an excellent job of presenting her Party’s platform. She would have a learning curve if elected to the Senate, but no more than many of the millionaires who make up that club.

Not all Maine Democrats are happy with the choice I recommend. I heard some local grumbling that using RCV to do anything other than supporting Ms. Gideon would lead to Susan Collins’ re-election, an eventuality to which I am also completely opposed. Poking around in the newspapers indicated that hostility to use of RCV in this particular election and to Lisa Savage’s candidacy among what I perceive as Loyal Party Faithful is not absent. Phone conversation at a high level of Maine Democratic leadership reassured me that RCV is perfectly acceptable and that, while the Party would certainly like to have Sara get a First Preference vote, choosing another candidate for that was ok too with, hopefully, Gideon getting a second.

Close examination of objections raised to voting other than for Sara Gideon only led to confirmation that the complaints are completely bogus. It is also clear that if anyone thinks that this will be the only election during which objections will be raised against RCV, they have another think coming. RCV does cause problems for major Party candidates. That is what it is, rightly, designed to do. You can count on grousing about RCV and other than major Party candidacies being familiar so long as RCV remains in use--as it should.

What however accounts for the level of anxiety regarding RCV and the Democratic candidate on this particular occasion? It appears to be that if Sara does not get over 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, she and the Party Faithful who worked so hard for her will look less than scintillating. Ms. Gideon, then, must look like The Divine Sara, or if not all, at least a great deal, will be lost.

Just why this is important I am not sure, but I am in any case not disposed to be indulgent of it. Whether the outcome is decided in the first or the umpteenth round will matter for about a day and a half. I want either Lisa Savage or Sara Gideon to go to the US Senate. But I want them to go with a forceful message to the Democratic Party leadership that the temptation to go back to Business as Usual has to be firmly resisted, that the siren song of indiscriminate bipartisanship with the GOP’s unprincipled and ruthless leadership is not on, and that promises like a Public Option as part of an improved ACA are not again to be bargained away in order to keep the insurance companies on side. A strong showing via RCV by a Party of the Left such as the Green Independents can send that message, and with more to it. It can also set a good example for other States considering RCV, and thus perhaps begin a needed revolution in our politics.

Another part of the message might best be imagined in terms of a conversation that Faithful Democrats, high or low, might just as soon like not to take place. It would go about like this: “We did all that all that shameless money-grubbing, spent obscene amounts ot it, and were as bad as those super-unscrupulous rats on the other side when it came to the vulgarity and distortions of the ads. And still this pissant little Party with no money and not much more organization made us and The Divine Sara look bad by getting more First Preference votes than they should have. Maybe we are going to have to get beyond just agreeing that Money in Politics is Bad and do something beyond wringing our hands. And maybe enough of the public is saying that if this Country is to be a decent one, there is going to have to be a redistribution of wealth, and there will have to be much more progressive taxation. Shying away from challenging the Republicans’ politically potent anti-tax, anti-Government, anti-public spending doctrines may have to end. Like it or not, we have some angry left wing constituents on our hands. What do we do about it?”

So: Which is priority? Making The Divine Sara look like she walks on water? Or getting a bit up the nose of the Dem Poobahs so as to get them to do some of the Right Things? I say the latter, by using RCV and a vote for Lisa Savage to do it.

Ed McCarthy

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