Unpacking the Sausage: It’s their party and you’re not invited

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By the time you read this, the 2021 election will be over. Putting aside any legal wrangling about implementation of the results, the close of the polls is the starting gun for Maine’s 2022 gubernatorial race.

I’ll admit my social circles are a bit biased, but I haven’t heard from anyone who’s excited about the advertising shitshow we’re about to watch between two corporate-owned veto-happy tyrants.

Bre KidmanI’m talking, of course, about the Mills-versus-LePage showdown we’ve been promised since Paul LePage was christened the GOP pick regardless of primary, as is allowed by the Maine Republican Party’s bylaws. 

On paper, the Maine Democratic Party doesn’t allow the party to hand-pick their candidates. Their charter, being the primary governing document of the party, is silent as to incumbency but does state that the party will not endorse in primaries and will not forgo any elections required by the charter.

This makes the party’s emails campaigning for the reelection of Gov. Janet Mills awfully puzzling, given that two Democratic primary challengers have announced their campaigns.

(Before you get all worked up, it’s not Troy Jackson, who has recently been the subject of a PAC formed with the purpose of raising and spending money to encourage him to run, despite his statement that he has no intent to do so.)

John Glowa and Kenneth Capron have both announced their intent to seek the Democratic nomination for governor to little fanfare, despite sending press releases to every major outlet. Each is registered as a candidate with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elections and neither has filed a campaign finance report, though I suspect it is safe to assume their war chests will be smaller than Mills’ by an order of magnitude.

Please note that the previous statement holds no information about whether Glowa or  Capron is actually qualified to do the job of governing the state of Maine. That’s beside my point, which is: we have shitty candidates because we are content to let the parties choose them for us.

Savvy readers will note that this is an issue near and dear to my heart. That said, the chip on my shoulder doesn’t negate the point, either. The Democratic Party purports to be “inclusive” and appeals to the idea that the values they espouse put them above the rampant corruption we see on the red team. But does that mean anything when those values are stretched so thin as to allow the party’s executive director to send emails advocating for the reelection of Mills when the primary has yet to take place?

Of course, the party’s internal rules and charter are issues (like campaign finance) with too little impact on our day-to-day lives for most people to pay attention to. That’s how they get you. Most people probably don’t know that the DNC won a lawsuit by saying they don’t actually owe the people a fair presidential primary. Who has the time to pore over old court transcripts for the part where DNC lawyers argue that they have no obligation to let the people choose our own candidates?

Well, I do. If only because it’s kind of mind-boggling: The Democratic Party tells you they care about getting representation from diverse voices, all the while throwing the presumption of legitimacy behind whoever has the most money, and the media follows suit.

The consultants and ad salespeople get paid and the voters are handed a neat little Red versus Blue sports match to fight about online for months, which generates more ad revenues for Facebook.

And the “realist” commentators, who have seen it play out too many times to count, will discount the outsiders entirely, thereby reinforcing the idea that the party – not the voter base – is who gets to decide what’s on the political menu.

If you’re already exhausted by the idea of watching Mills and LePage waste unfathomably large sums of money on inescapable schoolyard bickering for the next year, it can be hard to believe there’s a way out. I have no idea if Glowa or Capron is the path, but I would like to ask you to look a little closer the next time you see a candidate mentioned as a footnote.

The reason could very well be that they care more about your wellbeing than the donors who keep the party wheels greased.

Bre Kidman is an artist, activist, and attorney (in that order), and the first openly non-binary person in history to run for the U.S. Senate. They would be delighted to hear your thoughts on the political industrial complex at [email protected].