President John Kennedy once observed that “values lie at the very heart of governing.” Not interests, not ideology, not even principles — but values.

Values are the things we hold most dear, that we cherish and are willing to defend, with our lives if needed; so that when the pressure is on and the issues come at us “like water from a fire hose,” we know where to turn for decisions that are true to ourselves and to those who brought us here.

We know just what Libby Mitchell’s values are from the recent Maine Sunday Telegram biography. They are the values Libby learned during long hours working in her family’s grocery store, on the neighbor’s farm, in school and college, and here in Maine.

They include the values of hard work, patriotism, dignity for the individual, support for the less fortunate and the voiceless, and opportunity for all.

An opponent in the current campaign repeatedly charges that Libby and her values are “extremist.” I have known Libby for almost 40 years — our children grew up together — and watched her unceasing efforts to build a stronger and better Maine.

I say that if it is “extreme” to advance the causes of our children, to defend the interests of middle-class working people, to fight for good jobs and a clean environment, to extend constitutional rights to all our citizens, and to lead efforts to reach principled compromise with the other party — as she did with the recent state budget and bond issues in Augusta — then Libby Mitchell is guilty as charged.

Is this the price a tested and proven leader must pay — reduced to a caricature by her opponent — in a time of polarized and polarizing politics?

Richard Barringer
I

 

The citizens of Maine need the skill and experience of both Eliot Cutler and Libby Mitchell. I call upon those two candidates to forge a partnership that will provide each an opportunity for leadership in the new administration.

If they act now, they will have time to present such a plan to the voters of Maine before November so that supporters of both Mitchell and Cutler can endorse a single candidate for governor.

We can learn a lot for President Obama’s actions in appointing Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state. We now have two talented individuals trying to solve some of the complex problems that face this nation.

The state of Maine has substantial problems of its own; we all know that. It also has a number of talented and experienced leaders. Mitchell and Cutler are two of them.

Together, those two can win the election; separately it appears that both will lose. If so, the people of Maine will lose too.

Natalie E. West
South Portland

 

While watching the “Youth in Politics” gubernatorial TV debate on Sept. 18, I was struck, out of all the candidates, by how articulate and composed independent candidate Eliot Cutler was.

Unlike the others who used tired political jargon and otherwise vastly exaggerated their achievements, making claims that will not or have not worked in Augusta, Cutler provided clear and candid responses outlining his proposed plan, using specific facts to support his methodologies.

Of all the candidates, Eliot Cutler not only appeared the most composed, he demonstrated that his rare combination of political and global experience — from working in federal government to representing businesses in China — will be most applicable for tackling the multitude of issues that are plaguing Maine today.

Cutler responded with actual specifics for increasing the amount of jobs and decreasing poverty and reforming the education and health care systems, exhibiting that his plans are innovative while still being realistic and achievable. That’s hardly the case with the other candidates, who either demonstrated no apparent detailed plan or who merely blew smoke in mirrors by using the same old canned political rhetoric.

With his diplomatic wisdom, political and business acumen and logical strategies for leading Maine out of the trenches, we Mainers deserve to have independent candidate Eliot Cutler as our next governor.

Sarah Woehler Michaud
Waterville

 

There is nothing subtle or complicated about Libby Mitchell. During a long tenure in the Maine Legislature she has been the definition of a big-government politician who has never seen a spending, borrowing or taxing proposal she didn’t like.

Last spring, the Legislature approved a $57 million bond proposal for a grab bag of projects. Democratic Gov. John Baldacci proposed a $79 million package. Mitchell wanted to borrow $99 million.

Her policy proposals are a laundry list of tired, trite, more-of-the-same ideas that give no hint that the state spends too much, that regulation is a morass for business, and that taxes are too high.

Mitchell’s chief ideas for economic development are to have state institutions use more Maine-produced food and to borrow more.

The justification for more borrowing is that Maine isn’t yet as badly in debt as some other states.

A Mitchell governorship would change that. Given her record in the Legislature and her policy proposals, the prospects for the state’s economic development and financial condition if she were governor are truly dismal.

Paul LePage understands, as Libby Mitchell does not, that states can’t spend and borrow their way to prosperity, and that the keys to economic development and job creation are lower taxes, restrained and streamlined regulation and controlled spending.

He believes that the solutions to issues like the high costs of health-care and energy include more choice and competition. Mitchell thinks the solutions are more regulation and government spending.

Libby Mitchell has spent her career raising taxes and spending the state into a succession of fiscal crises. Paul LePage has spent his as a successful businessman and as a prudent and responsible mayor in Waterville.

The rest of Maine should benefit from his sensible and constructive ideas by electing him governor.

Martin Jones
Freeport

 

Recent letters to the editor suggest that Paul LePage misspoke when he tried to tie events in Maine almost a hundred years ago to a modern day nonexistent blog written by a Democratic operative. They suggest that it’s better to be led by “one of us” rather than a professional politician who is always “on message.”

I agree with the premise that we ought to cut people slack when they misspeak. Unfortunately, Paul Lepage’s words were not carelessly spoken. They were a ham-handed attempt to change the subject about racism within the tea party by demagoguing the issue of racism in Maine.

To understand demagoguery, think of Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts for Communists in the ’50s or Sarah Palin’s screeching about “death panels.”

The tea party movement seems to be a Fox News-led groundswell that taps into the prejudices and ignorance of the worst among us. It’s members so fear the future that they are willing to be seduced by simple answers to complex problems.

They seek out leaders who deliberately mislead them, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich and now, Paul LePage.

In Federalist 1, Alexander Hamilton warns against demagogues: “(A) dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.”

If the tea party patriots really are guided by the words of our founding fathers, they ought to renounce this kind of mis-leadership. Unless of course they’re Samuel Johnson’s kind of patriots.

Bill Corrigan
New Gloucester