September 3, 2012

Off the Trail: Early jolt shapes worker's priorities

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Roland Leclerc says he’ll vote for the candidate who’s able to unite politicians behind a common goal.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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He will watch the debates and read the policy papers of both candidates and their running mates before he makes up his mind. But he is leaning toward Obama.

"Romney will have to give me a better plan than he has so far," he says, adding that, "I'll still listen."

He favors Obama because he thinks he is intelligent and measured. "I think he's a calm and steady leader, and that's what I like to see," Leclerc says.

The debt problem in this country is related to manufacturing, he says. He wants a president who will provide leadership on issues that result in more things being made in the United States. He's far more concerned about trade agreements than most other topics that will generate the loudest debates in the election, because he believes trade agreements that leave the United States at a competitive disadvantage lead directly to job losses and a lack of productivity, and to more debt.

That issue has been on his mind since his parents' jobs went to foreign laborers who were working for pennies.

"The problem is, we don't make things anymore," he says, and tells a story about searching long and hard online before finding a set of replacement steak knives that were forged in the United States. "We need to make stuff. We can't have the world make everything for us."

He's a big fan of alternative energy, such as wind, tidal and solar power, because alternative energy creates jobs and reduces dependence on foreign and dirty energy. He also likes clean water and healthy forests, and blames much of the environmental problems in Maine on coal-fired plants in the Midwest.

He voted for Bush in 2000, but Bush lost him when he loosened environmental standards and waged war in Iraq. "I would have gone to Afghanistan myself if they had asked me," he says, "but Iraq was just ridiculous."

He's tired of politicians -- and media outlets -- who reduce issues to slogans, and wants to hear a candidate talk about long-range goals. Too often, campaigns focus on short-term, immediate issues. He admires candidates who have the courage to admit that we are in for tough times and are willing to think about long-term solutions.

He blames the corporate mentality for influencing politicians to seek immediate fixes. They don't exist, he says.

Instead of worrying about what the next quarter will bring or what the next jobs report looks like, he wants to think about solutions that might be four, six or eight years away. That's how he and his wife operate their house.

He's years away from retirement, but has a plan in place to get there. "We think about what our life is going to be like five, 10 or 20 years from now," he says.

The government needs to do the same thing, and to do that, politicians must work together. And getting politicians on the same page united in a common goal comes down to leadership. That's what will motivate his vote.

Right now, Obama is his guy. He'll give Romney a chance. But Obama seems better able to lead, he says -- and he'd feel much better about his vote if Obama would take a page from Bill Clinton and engage in more conservative spending practices. "I'd gladly pay more taxes, but I want spending controlled," he says.

He didn't like the bailouts that Obama helped enact, but he understands why they were necessary. Now it's time to cut back spending and come up with a plan to deal with the debt.

Despite the challenges, Leclerc remains bullish on America. He saw his parents and his hometown recover from a devastating blow. He believes in America, and believes Americans can do better.

"I feel optimistic in some ways. I'd like to see more working on things. I'd like to see the rhetoric turned down a little. I'd like to see more conversations on things we agree on," he says.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes

 

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