As I ponder the mysteries of life — one of which is why immigration officials are always raiding Mexican restaurants and ignoring what’s going on at all those Canadian-owned Tim Hortonses — I occasionally run across little things that make me wonder about where we’re headed as a country.

This week’s little oddity was a story Maine Public Broadcasting ran about the former independent candidate for governor, Eliot Cutler.

Cutler, who nearly won the governor’s seat and easily trounced the Democrat in the race, is launching a new statewide political organization to be known as “OneMaine.”

Gee, you say, just what we needed, another political pressure group, yawn, wake me when the feature starts.

Ah, but wait! Cutler, who ran as a get-things-done, we-just-need-good-government technocrat, has a whole new take on this politics game.

For far too long, he thinks — actually, since the founding of the Republic — people have supported candidates due to their stands on particular issues.

Want a central bank? Alex Hamilton’s your guy. Feel like farmers and the rest of the common people are getting a raw deal? Vote for Andy Jackson and turn the White House into party-hearty central. Think the country should be more aggressive abroad and that robber barons should be reined in? T.R.’s your man, by jingo.

But Cutler thinks that’s seeing politics through the big end of the telescope, producing a distorted image of the views of average Americans.

Conservatives who support conservative causes and liberals who back liberal ones are alienating the center, he believes. They are not only losing support for their policy hobbyhorses but are making many people without such strong views disenchanted with the whole political process.

“As chair of OneMaine,” MPBN said, “Cutler says he wants to give orphaned Maine moderate voters a chance to get re-engaged in politics. He says the genesis for the idea is reflected in a new poll that shows 49 percent of voters don’t think either of the major parties in Congress represents the American people.”

Now, he’s not the only one to think this. There’s a strain of analysis in political science that shows voters increasingly leaving the two major parties for “unenrolled” or “independent” status as they reject what they regard as the “extremes” of public life.

But you might suppose that if someone held that view, they would support people who didn’t have “extreme” views but ran for office with “moderate” positions on issues.

However, MPBN reports, that’s not precisely what Cutler has in mind, because his group apparently doesn’t care what candidates think about any given issue at all.

Instead, the network said, OneMaine “will raise money and support candidates for legislative office, but it will not make its endorsements based on a candidate’s stance on issues. Instead, support will be based on a candidate’s willingness to find common ground.”

Ponder that for a minute. As Cutler said in his MPBN interview with Susan Sharon, “It’s time to focus on getting things done,” and it doesn’t seem to matter what they are — as long as “progress” keeps progressing onward. Or upward. Or somewhere.

This is too easy: Want to fish for lobster with dynamite? Buy up all of the state south of Augusta and turn it into a Maine Underbrush National Park? Ban Volvos from Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth? Make the head of the Maine Turnpike Authority wear that foolish moose outfit 24 hours a day, every day, all year long?

Hey, as long as you’re willing to compromise on the details, let’s get it on.

But yes, I know, that’s not really what Cutler means. He’s honest enough about his own ambitions not to deny he might have future personal political goals. As Sharon noted, “People are saying that ‘OneMaine’ should really be read as ‘OneMan,’” and Cutler admitted he hadn’t ruled out future campaigns for office.

Even so, he said, he was serious about his effort. But there’s only one way it makes any sense, and clearly it’s not that he’s going to support lobster-dynamiting office-seekers.

He and others of his persuasion certainly do believe that there are “centrist” answers to current political problems, and this is how they have chosen to support those who seek them.

It’s not being cynical to read his group as a way to help candidates who have very well- defined ideas that he can endorse. Nor is there any shame in his support for them.

But those who merely cheer on “compromise” end up saying the heart of politics is process, and that actual content is incidental or immaterial — and that is so clearly a nonsensical statement that no serious person can accept it for an instant.

Let me give an example from real life. Some people want to ban all abortions, others are willing to ban some, while a third group wants them freely available to anyone at all times.

Suppose someone says, “Let’s compromise and ban half of them, based on the views of the middle group.”

Most of the first group and all of the middle would say, “That would save 500,000 babies’ lives every year. Let’s do it.”

But the third group realizes that such a “compromise” establishes that abortion can be banned under some circumstances. So then the issue isn’t a ban, it’s the conditions under which a ban can be imposed — a totally different question.

As has been asked, “If permitting abortion under all circumstances is the ‘moderate’ position, what is the liberal one?”

Compromise is great — until you get to core issues where a compromise destroys the goals of one side or the other.

So, Mr. Cutler, good luck. People will compromise on the easy stuff. The hard stuff?

Well, that’s harder. Which is why we have parties, and platforms — and elections.

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

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