How does money in politics affect the economic and social well-being of Northern Maine? And by “Northern Maine,” I don’t mean Bangor. I mean the vast areas of Aroostook County, Northern Penobscot, and Washington County. There was already way too much money determining the outcome of elections when Supreme Court decisions dramatically compounded the influence of corporate greed in political decisions that vitally affect us. The Citizens United decision defined a corporation as a person and money as speech; it struck down regulations that limited the amount of money they could spend on political campaigns. The McCutcheon vs. FEC decision eliminated caps on how much people can give in total to federal candidates and party committees. That means that our individual voices in Northern Maine are being drowned out by voices of greed coming from elsewhere.
We in Northern Maine have always had to struggle to have our voices heard in Augusta—let alone in Washington—where money and profit rule. Giant corporations from outside Northern Maine have gradually taken over our farms, retail outlets, forestry industries, and government. They were already controlling our lives, silencing our voices, and shipping out their profits to other areas. They have not improved our economy. We are rural, sparsely populated, and struggling to survive economically and to maintain what is left of our pristine environment and our quality of life which in so many ways should be a role model for Augusta, Southern Maine, and the rest of the nation, not a way station to be ignored.
We have increasing numbers of organic farmers here who need and deserve public support in Augusta. They show the way to improving our citizens’ health which corporate food producers have been undermining for many decades. We still have forests, wild lands, and wild life that provide a quality of life necessary for personal happiness of local citizens, travelers, and tourists; these resources need protection from corporate greed that use up these resources for profit and leave our soils, waters, forests, and air polluted. We still have some semblance of town hall government where diverse voices can be heard and respected. This kind of government must be protected and strengthened to combat the power of money coming from outside interests and determining political decisions that affect our lives.
Whether you are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Independent, or Other, arm yourself with information. Do everything you can to find out how candidates are being funded. If you can’t find out from the media, ask the candidates and the party officials before you vote. Ask them where their campaign funds are coming from. Ask them what kind of obligation they will owe from their funding. Ask them if they will support campaign finance reform to restore the democratic principle of one person, one vote.
The definition of a corporation as a person and money as speech is a travesty of justice. We in rural Northern Maine have to speak even louder since that travesty, and our best megaphones are informed voices: private speech one-to one in homes and neighborhoods, public speech in town halls and other public meetings, Letters to the Editor, and the vote. The upcoming elections are an opportunity to make your voice heard, both in the primary elections in June, and in the general elections in November. Think about what is best for Northern Maine and vote accordingly. Don’t let our fate be determined by those who will use our resources for their own gain and take their profits elsewhere.