Vote Best, not gender

Letters to the Portland Phoenix editor, April 27, 2012

I agree whole-heartedly with Deirdre Fulton that a paucity of women interested in holding political office is bad (see "Female Dems Could Help Take Back State House," April 20). Gender limitations and discouragements should be identified and removed in all walks of life (as should discouragements and imitations based on other insignificant characteristics). I do not agree that gender should be a basis for voting for a candidate, except as a tiebreaker. Candidates should be supported not because they belong to a particular category irrelevant to the job but because they have a desired combination of knowledge, values, and energy and so are likely to provide strong leadership.

I also disagree that people unhappy with our current government in Augusta should necessarily vote for Democrats. Progressive leadership can be provided just as well by Greens. The fear is that voting for a third-party or non-party candidate will split the progressive vote, allowing a conservative without real support to win, as happened in our last gubernatorial race. But in many districts the left so far outnumbers the right that a Republican has no chance, even with votes going to the Green. Depending on where you live it is perfectly safe to vote Green.

I do have a horse in this race — in fact I have two. In 2010 when I ran for the Maine Legislature as a Green Party candidate for District 115 (Portland's Woodfords Corner area) I earned the Phoenix's endorsement not because I was male or female but because I was the best candidate, and I hope that will happen again this year. In 2010 I beat the Republican by 10 percent and I know that in 2012 the worst that will happen if you vote for me is that a Democrat or a Green will be going to Augusta.

May the candidate with the best combination of knowledge, values, and energy win!

Seth Berner

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