January 5

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL : New Year’s resolutions for some of the more visible among us

Don Roberts

It’s a New Year, and hope springs eternal. It’s traditional for people to offer their resolutions. So, for 2014, I have some suggestions for a few others.

For President Barack Obama: Resolve to simply tell the truth. No more untruths like those used in promoting the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and in coverups like Benghazi. You are my president. If nothing else, you must be honest with all of us.

The president also desperately needs to resolve to recognize that his social engineering approach and attempt to redistribute the country’s wealth will not work. It is the path to the destruction of free market capitalism and our individual freedoms.

For Congress: Resolve that compromise is not a dirty word. It is instead the only route to meaningful solutions to difficult problems and an end to dangerous gridlock. Recognize that extremism is indeed a vice (Barry Goldwater was wrong). Ted Cruz and the most extreme segment of the tea party are damaging the Republican Party with the American people. The Democrats have their extremes, too. Secular progressivism is certainly not the answer for our country.

For Gov. Paul LePage: Resolve to have an attitude adjustment. Recognize that even those of us who agree with you on many issues find your belligerent, “My way or the highway” style, offensive. If only you would understand how damaging that style is to your hopes for achieving success on issues of major importance to you and many of us. Vetoes generally solve nothing. Resolve to drop the name calling and substitute that with some respect for others’ points of view — no matter how wrong they may be. We all admire and respect the traits of courage and passion. Now, Governor, simply resolve to temper those qualities with respect for others and compassion for all.

For LePage’s re-election opponents:

For Mike Michaud: Resolve to spend a great deal of time reviewing your record in Congress with full explanation to us of the reasons for your positions on the issues of critical importance. Then tell us where you will stand, as governor, on the more local issues affecting Maine.

For Eliot Cutler: Resolve to concentrate your efforts for the next 10 months on how you provide the preferable alternative to the political party choices. In other words, make the independent argument complete with your specific plan for Maine’s future. Comparative ads and positioning should be your formula. That is the ticket for your campaign.

On the local political scene:

For Republican leader, Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta: Resolve that you will continue to work for understanding within your party, to heal the rift between conservative and moderate segments. To continue your work to bring the party to the understanding that common ground trumps extremism and will lead to eventual success.

For my friend, Augusta Mayor Bill Stokes: Resolve (while you follow through on campaign promises made and continue to grow in your job) to exercise independence in your position of leadership. As the city charter indicates, council sets policy, the manager’s job is to administer it.

For one of our newest businesses, Summit Natural Gas: Resolve not to make unrealistic promises that you cannot keep and deadlines that you cannot meet. Take a less frenetic approach in your race to distribute our new source of heating supply to the valley overnight. We will all be patient and wait, so that you may do your job safely and right.

For most of us, resolutions should be fairly simple. Let’s resolve to be less judgmental of those different from us. To work to correct a wrong when we see it. To help someone less fortunate, when we can. Let’s resolve to become more involved in our community, in our schools and in our government.

If you are a parent, you have an awesome responsibility. You, more than any other influence, determine your children’s hopes for the future. Give them your undivided attention and provide a moral compass to be proud of. Teaching is the most wonderful thing you have to give to your child. While we are at it, let’s honor our teachers in the education profession; they should be our heroes.

My final resolution is well-known to doctors and should be a credo for all politicians: “Do no harm.”

Let’s resolve to work hard to make things better for everybody in 2014.

Happy New Year.

Don Roberts is a former city councilor and vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta. He is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District, and a representative to the Legislative Policy Committee of Maine Municipal Association.
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