OneMaine’s brave stance — for “common sense”

Not exactly a profile in courage

OneMaine is out with a statement about why it exists and what it stands for. Noting they stem “from Eliot Cutler’s independent campaign for governor in 2010,” the announcement is remarkably vague.

What does OneMaine say it stands for?

We want common sense solutions, and support such solutions even if introduced by a member of a party different from our own. We want to move Maine forward and beyond a new fad or a new faction, solutions are more important than statements.

Also, the group calls for people coming together and avoiding extremes.  Without laying out a single specific policy position, OneMaine criticizes the political parties which have well-developed philosophies and proposals:

Too often, however, party interests are prioritized instead of constituent concerns or sustainable solutions. Too often, special interests leverage sound bites and fear mongering in order to influence our elected officials and the voters.

What are those “special interests?” What “sound bites” have been used? Who is “fear mongering” and about what? OneMaine never says.

And who, exactly, is against “common sense?” Both Republicans and Democrats use this same rhetorical trope. 

This inaugural statement offers just one kind-of-specific: A commitment to process– “civil dialogue,” working “across party lines.”

What are we to make of this development?

1. Although Mr. Cutler is associated with this movement and may want to use it as a vehicle for another campaign for public office,  OneMaine has one very big difference from his campaign. While Cutler laid out policy positions and defended them vigorously, OneMaine is basically a movement that’s essentially about the political process.

2. No successful political movement in the history of American politics and no new, successful political party in the history of American politics has been about process. True, the Progressive movement was concerned about corruption in urban political machines and it worked to reform processes (with campaign finance laws, competitive exams for government jobs, the secret Australian-style ballot, etc.) but it was also involved with substantive issues like food safety.  

Maine people have traditionally stood for civility in politics, but they are also people looking for more than a commitment to good process.  Independent candidate Angus King got elected governor after publishing a book with his ideas. One can never say never in politics, but given all this, the political potential for a movement without a core focus and ideas is not strong. 



Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.