Our Viewpoint: Vote for Sara Gideon

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It’s impossible to recall when the decisions of Maine voters have played such an important role in national politics. A victory for Democrat Sara Gideon in her campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins could be the key to a Democratic takeover. That welcome result could spell the end of the system of Republican Party control and the stalling of key initiatives in Congress, and the enabling of a president who aspires to be a dictator.

If Democrats can take the Senate, it will spell the end of the ironclad rule of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. His Republican reign has brought a radical conservative federal judiciary, and the squelching of much legislation that comes from the House of Representatives, resulting in a Congress trapped in dysfunction.

In sharp contrast to her idol, the late Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, who spoke up against Sen. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, Collins has fallen into lockstep with her Republican cohorts and President Donald Trump. She refuses to say whom she supports for president in this election.

Collins constantly refuses to challenge Trump, who has mismanaged a pandemic with widespread fatal results. He even refuses to commit to accepting the results of this election, one of the many ways that he has undermined the fragile foundation of our democracy.

The argument that Collins should be reelected because of seniority is chimerical. Despite her seniority, she does not occupy any important committee chairs. The bankrupt seniority system, which only serves to groom and preserve the cabal of octogenarians who run the U.S. Senate, has outlived its usefulness. And while Collins, simply by virtue of being in the Senate in the majority party for a long time, has been able to attain some federal support for Maine industry, we expect that a newly elected Senate Democrat from Maine can also be effective – especially if the Democrats take the majority. The seniority arguments do not counter the profound need for change in this country.

In this ranked choice election, voters who are attracted by the strong policy positions and articulate presentation of independent candidate Lisa Savage will have an important choice to make. Savage has been forthright in outlining what should be the key Democrat goals should they attain Washington power, such as Medicare for all. But in a potentially very close election, first-place votes that go to Savage, rather than Gideon, might be sufficient to allow Collins to get to a majority victory in the first round, which could be key in Republicans keeping control of the Senate.

For these reasons, we urge you to vote for Sara Gideon.