In their well-written Nov. 18 letter, Andy and Sara Torbett said that “southern Maine liberals” imposed ranked-choice voting with the explicit goal of working against the wishes of conservative voters in northern and rural Maine.

They said southern Maine liberals are “convinced of their intellectual superiority,” that they consider northern Mainers to be “lovable” and “quaint” and “hicks.” They implied that ranked-choice voting allowed Democrats extra votes by counting second and third choices of voters for the “stealth Democrats,” but did not count those choices of Republican voters.

I am a southern Mainer, a Democrat and a ranked-choice voting proponent. I supported this system because I believe it brings more voices to the table, enhances democracy, treats all parties equally, brings more civility and bipartisan solutions to politics and eliminates the “spoiler” effect. I did not wish to impose my views on northern Mainers.

Certainly, I have blind spots and prejudices about conservatives in rural Maine, just not those suggested by Andy and Sara Torbett. We all have wrongheaded beliefs about people who are different from us. Too often we act on them as “facts.” Too often we surround ourselves with friends, family and community who are like-minded and who reinforce our sometimes unfounded or oversimplified beliefs. I do it. The Torbetts probably did it.

How can we regain constructive and respectful dialogue in this great American democracy? I offer to bring some of my friends, parishioners and neighbors to meet with Andy and Sara Torbett and a similar grouping of northern Mainers, and I invite them here to meet us. I bet we’d get a lot further a lot faster toward a better Maine than we do sending our barbed letters to the editor across the “DMZ.”

In all sincerity and with best holiday wishes to all Mainers,

Jay Kilbourn


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