As I have noted before, I have a degree in a field that doesn’t exist — “political science.” Yes, one can study political activity using statistics and other mathematical methods, but that comes closer to being a branch of demography.

Politics can be a profession or an avocation, but it is much more an art than a science.

When I was an undergraduate (and dinosaurs roamed the Earth), the academic department was called “Government” — a far more descriptive title.

But I’ve gone all around the barn to get to my topic, which is that I am always astounded when people express their surprise — or dismay — that after they elect candidates to political office, those leaders engage in — wait for it — politics!

Yet, we saw that attitude reflected in some horrified responses to the news that Republicans on a joint committee to rejigger the state’s congressional districts had created a map that could make it a tiny bit more possible to elect a Republican to Congress.

This somehow became an occasion for dismay, even though the map apparently met all the legal requirements for population balance, contiguity of towns and the least amount of division at the county level,

At this point, one wants to say to the critics, “When, exactly, were you planning to grow up?”

First of all, if there’s anyone reading this who is even the slightest bit tempted to believe that Democrats in the same position would not do exactly the same thing, give it up.

They wouldn’t be Democrats if they passed up an opportunity like this. If the Donks had been in the minority in Augusta for decades, and then reached majority status and won the governor’s office in a year in which congressional districts had to be redrawn, there would be Crayola scribbles all over the map before they were done.

Saying that the GOP is not playing fair by departing significantly from the current district lines, which are themselves entirely arbitrary, is the height of disingenuousness.

It is not unfair for politicians to use every legal means to support their party’s agenda.

Indeed, one can argue — and I am one of those who would argue — that not doing so is to break faith with those who elected them. Candidates run promising to do specific things, and they are entitled to use whatever proper means the system offers to achieve them.

Thus, while I may not like it that when the Democrats had a majority in Congress, they bent every rule they could to pass Obamacare without any input from the GOP, I don’t blame them for doing it. They fought for their agenda and did their utmost to keep their promises.

Just as Republicans will be keeping their promises if they can entirely repeal it and replace it with something better.

As I have also noted before, one of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans (especially in Maine and the rest of New England except New Hampshire), is that Democrats understand, down to the genetic level, that they cannot implement their agenda if they don’t try their hardest to win every possible contest.

Republicans, on the other hand, may have once felt that way, but for many decades have substituted “let’s go along to get along” for “Live Free or Die.” Which is why, until very recently, they have been thin on the ground in these parts.

Displaying a meek and gentle spirit may be admirable at the interpersonal level, but in politics it gets you trampled.

If you don’t think Democratic luminaries like Ed Muskie, George Mitchell and many more understood that, you don’t know them very well.

True, Democratic dominance in Augusta fell by the wayside last year, but the question remains, how much did things really change?

Republicans have been patting themselves on the back for their accomplishments in the Legislature’s first session, and some of them were substantial, including streamlining environmental rules, making it harder to vote fraudulently by eliminating same-day registration, redoing the state’s health care paradigm and altering the tax code in taxpayer-friendly ways.

But taxes could and should have been cut much more, and if Rhode Island (with Lincoln Chaffee as governor!) can institute a law making it mandatory to show a photo ID before voting, so can Maine.

In addition, sensible (and very minor) alterations to the state’s laws on abortion were rejected out of hand by a purportedly “conservative” Legislature.

So, with the results to date a mixed bag, I was delighted to see Republican members of the redistricting committee redraw the state map in a way that might — and “might” is the right word — give a party nominee a better shot at one of the state’s two seats in Congress.

They even made some noise about ditching the current law’s two-thirds requirement to pass a majority plan when a special session meets in late September to vote on the new boundaries. Be still, my beating heart! Is the GOP really starting to want to win as much as Democrats always have?

But this is by no means the last word, and the GOP still seems more open to compromise on the ultimate outcome than its Democratic colleagues.

The Democrats appear willing to fight hard to keep the current arrangement — which, oddly enough, favors them at present — even though they (cough!) deny any political motive (cough!) in defending it.

An update is due at noon today, and the whole thing could wind up in the courts.

Still, this was a real sign of life among Republicans. If that trend continues, people might start voting for them again.

M.D. Harmon is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6482 or at:

[email protected]