We need a strong political center

The partisan divide in which the country has been ensnared for quite a long time will not serve our nation, people or the world in an era with Donald Trump as president. Many from both sides of the aisle dismissed Trump as unlikely to win, so his excesses were considered “not credible” as real threats.

The leaders of the branches of our military and security agencies, the leaders of our civil servants and the integrity of our system of justice need the protections that could be afforded by principled leadership from the center. It is a matter of strong conscience to step aside from the partisan model that is threatening many of our important institutions in the era of President-elect Trump.

If three or four senators from each party would take this stand, they could swing a vote on any serious contentious issue by being united in the middle. A larger committed and serious centrist group would have the clout to help one side or the other get to 60 votes — the key number to confirm certain nominees and approve legislation in the Senate.

Our country is at a time of extreme need, and a reliable leadership to meet that need for the duration can only safely come from the principled center.

Jim Perkins


Gagnon wrong on referendums

I find Matthew Gagnon’s Nov. 16 BDN column on the referendum process to be ignorant and arrogant, and I am amazed that he should be proposing an unconstitutional solution to a nonexistent problem.

I find it particularly hypocritical of Gagnon to claim that it is “special interests, usually from out-of-state groups or well-funded ideological organizations in Maine” that “are using this process today.” Gagnon, a longtime “inside the Beltway” GOP operative who leads the think tank Maine Heritage Policy Center (which has ties to the Koch Brothers), seems to fit to a tee the description of those whom he criticizes.

It is fairly clear from Gagnon’s column that he has never had to meet all the specific legal requirements that must be met for a referendum initiative to successfully be placed on the ballot. On the other hand, if the referendum process is so easy, how does he account for the failure of Gov. Paul LePage and the Maine Republican Party to place a referendum on the ballot to abolish the state income tax?

Stephen Bickart


Oppose Trump nominees

Registered voters in Maine who support a responsible U.S. government should communicate a very simple thought to Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King.

As moral human beings, the senators must oppose nominations to the Cabinet of the Trump administration who oppose the basic human rights for any segment of the American population. The senators need to oppose every Cabinet nominee who supports racism, misogyny, inequality, religious intolerance, xenophobia and homophobia. These beliefs do not represent American values.

I consider our senators to be intelligent and morally responsible people, and I expect Collins and King to vote against these abhorrent nominations. Collins and King represent all the people of this state, and they must support and defend all of us regardless of our gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, ideology or ethnicity. Many of the possible Trump Cabinet nominees have demonstrated that they would single out some Americans for discrimination and unequal treatment.

Collins should know many Maine voters expect her to continue her role as a non-cookie-cutter “loyal” Republican. Collins rightly stood up to the Republican establishment in refusing to support the presidential nomination of Trump. King is an independent, and he is not beholden to be influenced by any party leadership. Hearing from voters who expect him to resist irresponsible nominations to the Cabinet couldn’t hurt.

Janet Leston Clifford

Mount Desert