CASWELL – After spending six years in the Maine Legislature as a state representative, I would find it almost impossible not to come up with some observations, touching on some general trends and reaching some conclusions I find interesting.
I have listened to the many speeches on the various bills that come to the floor of the House.
Many of these speeches, although referring to the same bill, were diametrically opposed and each representative was as adamant about his or her position as the other.
I realized that it was not top-down pressure from political parties that determined how a person thought or voted, but rather a political philosophy that seemed to transcend all reason, logic or discourse. It was something beyond mental reasoning and intrinsic within that particular individual’s makeup.
It mattered not how eloquent the speech, how convincing the argument or how many statistics were put forth to prove the point at hand, the results of the votes a vast percentage of the time were always along party lines, flowing from the individual up.
It gradually became clear to me that on just about every issue that was voted on by the full House, I could predict, with a high degree of certainty, how each member would vote.
To put it simply, if you looked at the yeas and nays on a particular bill and without knowing the names of the representatives, you could tell who was a Democrat and who was a Republican.
No matter how many times someone spoke on a particular issue, how convincing the arguments were or how long the speeches lasted, very seldom was a mind changed from its original position, and in most cases, not one mind was changed.
When speaking with a fellow representative one day, I realized I could no more change his mind about an issue than I could change the color of his eyes.
It then occurred to me that his political thought, philosophy and beliefs were genetic to his nature, in his DNA blueprint, in his genes.
Republicans become frustrated with Democrats, Democrats become frustrated with Republicans, and the wants of either side will never be fully realized.
The sooner we accept this immutable difference, the sooner we will realize that we have to work together, negotiate and compromise to reach solutions, the sooner we will solve the state and nation’s problems.
It occurred to me that although great emphasis is placed on political parties, it is rather my firm belief that each person is genetically programmed with a “liberal” or “conservative” political philosophy.
Just as one inherits physical characteristics, mannerisms or mental abilities from one’s parents and ancestors, so also I believe that one also inherits his or her political philosophy.
How many times have we heard someone say, “I can see your father’s eyes or your mother’s smile in you,” or how often do we hear a person say to us, “You look like your uncle” or “You look like your grandmother”?
If therefore that is true, then why do we not inherit our political philosophy also in the same manner of random selection? Why then do we not inherit our way of thinking, our way of interpreting political issues or our thought process? I believe we do!
How many times have I discussed a particular issue with a fellow representative who had voted differently than I did, only to find that they were as firm in their convictions as I was in my own?
I remember thinking this has to be a genetic thing because two people cannot think so differently on an issue without it being programmed in their genes.
Yes, maybe nurturing does play a small part when we are still young, but when a person comes of age and begins thinking for themselves, they soon accept their own beliefs and philosophy.
Many times we notice that in the same family, children brought up by the same parents can have as different a viewpoint on issues, yes, as different as their physical appearance.
Although it may take awhile during our growing up years to fully develop and realize our political persuasions, I now strongly believe it is genetically based.
When one stops to realize that in just about every democratic country in the world, where people are free to express themselves at the voting booth, governments and people are separated by two major groups as being either a “liberal” or a “conservative.”
Therefore it must be a genetic trait inherited by humans all over the world and down through many centuries.
So let us then resolve to understand and accept each other’s differences!
State Rep. Bernard Ayotte of Caswell, a Republican, represents parts of Aroostook County.