July 27, 2013

Maine Voices: Vote on recruiter measure becomes manufactured test of patriotism

Rumors and speculation distract from the fact that the bill would not have solved a known problem.

By JANICE COOPER

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I am one of the Gang of 20 (or is it 40?) legislators who received a personal note from the governor telling me that my actions were shameful and show "disdain" for military service. The representative who misrepresented or misread the contents of the Hannibal email called me "disgusting" for changing my vote.

The truth is, I spoke against the bill twice on the floor; my one (of three) inconsistent votes was either an error (my button had been malfunctioning) or a mistake on my part. I take responsibility for that error, but it was clear where I stood, and my vote was no calculated maneuver to curry favor.

Command Sgt. Maj. Hannibal, when called by my superintendent, still could cite no specific offending schools. Last I heard, he wasn't returning phone calls.

In sum, what we have here is a manufactured crisis and a phony test of patriotism. The real issue is: How should a legislator decide how to vote?

When I ran for this office, my only pledge to voters was to base my vote on the facts, and I remain true to that promise. It may not have been the safest political course, but it is the one that I believe is best for good policy and a strong democracy.

The question remains whether facts matter enough for voters.

Rep. Janice Cooper is a Democrat from Yarmouth.

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