The two major political parties in Maine are in unusual positions of majority and minority status.

Having achieved a majority in both the House and Senate, Republicans will have a chance to implement many of the changes they have advocated during their years in the wilderness. With Paul LePage in the governor’s chair, they will not have to worry about the threat of a gubernatorial veto.

At the same time, Democrats will assume a minority role to protect the policies they have put in place during their long tenure, policies that often have benefited their politically powerful core constituencies.

Organized interest groups find themselves in equally unfamiliar territory. Traditional Democratic constituencies that rely on public spending and laws that favor organized labor will be in the unusual position of protecting the strides they have made through the Democratic majority.

Trade unions, public employees unions, social issue advocates and environmental activists will find themselves having to modify their expectations with the new majority that has been on the short end of the stick for years.

Traditional Republican constituencies that favor free enterprise and leaner, less intrusive government are only now comprehending the potential changes a sympathetic majority might deliver. For most businesses, this is brand new territory.

Maine’s business community has played defense in the Legislature for decades. It has relied on the Senate to serve as the burial detail for bad ideas that have so often been passed by the House. Now, the business community in Maine has the challenge of articulating the changes it needs to create jobs.

Already, Republican leaders have reached out to business associations to put their recommendations in writing. The GOP intends to make regulatory reform its first and most significant undertaking to speed Maine’s economic recovery.

There ought to be a strong reception for such changes, given that every candidate campaigned for job creation.

Voters in this election demonstrated that they are ready for change. They are not loyal, however, to one party or the other. In 2006 and 2008, with two wars, a declining economy and persistent acrimony, the nation ousted the party in power.

Republicans took a beating because of Bush fatigue. People crossed party lines to register their dissatisfaction with the status quo. The allure of something new bested the certainty of four more years of Republican control of the White House.

These are lessons for Maine’s politicians. According to Scott Rasmussen, a national pollster who spoke last week in South Portland, Republicans did not win the election, Democrats lost it.

Americans, he said, have lost faith in their government. They are tired of the political elites who have no ear for Main Street. Only 21 percent believe that government has the consent of the governed.

He also said that, across the nation, 52 percent of Americans believe members of Congress trade their votes for cash. Most dramatically, 60 percent believe that government is the problem and not the solution.

The electorate wants to be in control, he said, and the party or elected official who understands that message and responds will earn trust and votes.

As an example of responding to the voices from Main Street, Rasmussen predicts that the recently passed health care reform will be repealed and replaced by Congress. A majority of Americans did not support the Obama reform, according to his data. Voters felt ignored and said so at the ballot box.

In my mother’s living room stand several of her most recent creations — knitted animals of every stripe and color. Giant chipmunks, puffins, raccoons and squirrels are residing in her home until they become gifts to her great-grandchildren this Christmas.

Two crafted creatures, however, will remain behind and be prominently displayed: a rhinoceros and a dinosaur. These two were created for a specific purpose and were part of her display at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s annual craft and art exhibition on the Sunday before the election. They were her political statement of the way life ought to be.

Festooned with horns, these two soft, knitted figures are better known as Rino and Dino, acronyms for Republicans in Name Only and Democrats in Name Only. As a former state legislator, she sees these characters as the epitome of our best elected leaders, people who are ready and willing to work together for the good of all those they represent.

While the purists may scoff at such ideological hybrids, they may do so at their peril. The election of 2012 has already begun, and the voters look more like her two cuddly creatures than they do elephants and donkeys.

What do you think and what are you willing to do about it? 

Tony Payne is a lifelong resident of Maine who is active in business, civic and political affairs. He may be reached at: [email protected]