Down East 2013 ©
Down East’s founder, Duane Doolittle, had a firm grip on how his new magazine would approach political issues. “Down East will be non-political on a day-by-day partisan level,” he wrote in September 1954, “for it does not grant any major or minor party a monopoly of heroes and great statesman.” To which, I would only add that no party has a monopoly of liars and scoundrels, either.
Fifty-six years later, this magazine still tries to adhere to Doolittle’s dictum, if for no other reason than a bipartisan approach to politics seems to be the Maine way. How else does one explain that the same state that has two Democratic House members keeps reelecting two Republican senators? Recent votes approving medical marijuana but banning gay marriages prove that the conventional red state/blue state dichotomy fails to take account of a place as complicated as Maine.
Our monthly column “The Maine Viewpoint” aims to reflect this complexity. Each month we reprint newspaper editorials that, in our judgment, represent the sorts of debates Mainers are having. Sometimes we agree with these opinions, and sometimes we don’t. Our only goal is to leave no ox un-gored. We’ve taken a similar approach to the governor’s race in this issue [“Blaine House Bloopers: Did They Really Say That?”]
I will admit that this election season has posed unusual editorial challenges for a magazine that aims to be bipartisan. There have been tremors that suggest a political earthquake might be imminent. In September, Contributing Editor Colin Woodard reported on how the moderate faction of the GOP had just been run over by a conservative steamroller. (Olympia Snowe better watch her back in 2012.) And the gubernatorial candidates representing the two major political parties — Republican Paul LePage and Democrat Libby Mitchell — probably couldn’t agree on the time of day, let alone an issue as heated as oil drilling in the Gulf of Maine. If referendum Question 1 passes, the citizens of southwestern Maine will find themselves living, for better or worse, at the center of casino gambling in northern New England. And Portlanders might finally have their own version of Rudy Giuliani if they choose to elect a mayor.
Mainers, in other words, might awaken on Wednesday, November 3, to find their state dramatically changed. If so, a long era of bipartisanship will be officially over. Elections have consequences, this year more than most.