Driving home yesterday, thinking about how I wanted to describe the experience of the Democratic State Convention, I heard Elvis Costello (yes, my tastes in music are firmly planted in past decades and centuries…) sing about “searching for light in the darkness of insanity.” That completely captured my experience this weekend.
The Convention was not only energizing, but provided that light time and again. We heard from Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, who provide us with extraordinary representation in the House of Representatives. Our party chair and vice-chair, Ben Grant and Janet Mills, have led us into a rebirth of the party, creating light from the darkness of 2010. We heard from our Senate candidates, Cynthia Dill, Matt Dunlap, Jon Hinck and Ben Pollard, who provided us with their fantastic visions, one of which will lead us into the November election. We heard from current and past legislative leaders, Hannah Pingree, Emily Cain and Justin Alfond, who not only provide great leadership today, but also promise a brilliant future for our party and state. And Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland’s great speech was a wonderful launch into the general election campaign season. And our party staff, led by Mary Erin Casale, did a fantastic job of running the convention, making this the best run of the 10 that I’ve attended. There were too many others to cite, but I was struck with how fortunate we are to have such incredible leaders, with whom we will be victorious in November and lead Maine into a great future.
In this season in which we are constantly buffeted with the message that everyone who isn’t an independent is somehow a flawed partisan, we saw and heard the perfect response at the Convention. We are blessed with great leaders who we need to be clear are principled and not just partisan for the sake of partisanship. We need to take back the campaign narrative from one of partisanship to principled compromise. We hear so much about breaking gridlock and compromise. The problem is that, as anyone who has ever engaged in a successful negotiation knows, compromise is meaningless unless it’s based upon principle. I believe that we need to be leaders in finding a successful path forward at the state and national levels. But when we as Democrats negotiate and compromise, we need to be clear about what we stand for, what are principles are and how, in compromising, we are not selling out and deserting the poor and middle and working classes. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing from independents about how they will compromise without giving us even the slightest hint of what is important to them, what principles will govern compromise and where they will draw the line. (Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest among us and Romney/Ryan/Republican proposed additional trillions of tax cuts anyone???) At this convention, we adopted a platform and heard speaker after speaker tell the world what we stand for and what our party’s governing principles are, have been and will continue to be. It reminded me of why I’ve been a registered Democrat for 40 years and how we have 21st century leaders who worthily inherit the mantle of great 20th century Democrats.
We heard much about the coming campaign season. Calling this election critical is an understatement. We’ve seen the damage done by Gov. LePage and the Republican majority in the Legislature, undoing years of progress. We need to stop them now to protect the citizens of Maine and the place to do that is in the legislative elections. We have an incredible campaign plan in place, with a wealth of data about what we need to do to regain a legislative majority. But this is all predicated on volunteer efforts this summer and fall. We will achieve victory in November, because of all of us working together, donating, making phone calls, going door to door, getting out the vote.
We also had county and state elections at the Convention. Two were particularly noteworthy. We had a hotly contested race for delegate to the Democratic National Committee. Phil Bartlett was victorious and, along with Maggie Allen, will be representing us for the next four years. Join me in warmly congratulating him; I look forward to his representing us and working for victory nationally and in Maine. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Sam Spencer. Sam has represented Maine on the DNC for the past 8 years. He has brought an extraordinary degree of dedication and loyalty as well as great effectiveness to this position. I look forward to continuing to work with Sam and would encourage you to take the opportunity to thank and recognize him.
We elected representatives from Cumberland County to the Democratic State Committee. We elected a strong delegation, who will provide excellent representation. The new delegates are: Pam Fenrich, Tom Foley, Tom Bull, Mike Tipping, Wayne Hollingworth, Jackie Sartoris, Tamsin Kemos, Rachel Hendrickson and Hallie Daughtry (whose daughter, Matthea, gave a rousing speech on behalf of her mother that firmly planted her in my mind as a rising and future leader.)
I’ve gone on too long and could go on further; that’s how energizing, exciting, motivating, this Convention was. I’m certain that this is going to be a fantastic and victorious electoral season, but I will only be proven right if we all pull together and are part of the winning effort. There are lots of opportunities to contribute and participate. Let me know how you’d like to join the effort.
Reid Scher, Chair