The Maine Republican Party — and the state of Maine — woke up sharply on May 9 to the news that the party’s annual convention held May 8 was no ordinary affair. In a swift, bold vote, party initiatives were redefined, shifting Maine Republicans far to the right on some issues, while on others, emphasizing what most citizens, no matter what political affiliation, believe: corruption in government is abhorrent, congressional delegates should get no special dispensation when it comes to health care, and we should all read a lot more about American history, and human history, to know from where our self-governance ideals originate.

The embers of the party platform overhaul were lit in Knox County, with some members of the Knox County Republican Committee working in conjunction with some others outside the county who apparently prefer to remain anonymous.The local committee members began working on the county’s own platform last year, and they took the manifesto with them to the convention, proposing a list of action items and belief statements that expand well beyond the conventional party lines.

The Knox County delegates deserve credit for laying out what they believe, whether one disputes their positions or not. Politics shape who we are and our policy making not just at the national level, but in local town and school committees. With the revamped platform, the voting public can get a far better idea of what potential candidates support as they appear on local ballots.

In theory, a party platform is to outline for the public where candidates and the party stand, including their opinions on controversial planks. This platform mentions many controversial planks, from gay marriage to Austrian economics, from stimulus spending to treaties crafted at the United Nations. As the public continues to get a better understanding of the Tea Party principles and initiatives, and becomes more familiar with an expanding political lexicon that includes terms such as Liberty Republicans, we hope the discussions will broaden even further to include the specific planks included in the Maine Republican Party platform.

Knox County Republican Committee members serve on our school boards and select boards, and work at local businesses; they are our neighbors. Political conversations are bound to be lively as we proceed into election season this June when we choose which party candidates we wish to move forward toward the November elections, as well as choose who we want to sit on the local boards.

With the Maine Democratic Convention scheduled for May 21 and 22 in Lewiston, it will be interesting to see what that party comes up with in its own platform.

 

 

Symbolic claims fall short

When the Five Town Community School District met last week to approve a proposal for a 100-kilowatt wind turbine on the Camden Hills Regional High School campus, a brief discussion centered on the cash value of renewable energy certificates.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency Web site at epa.gov, “A REC represents the property rights to the environmental, social, and other nonpower qualities of renewable electricity generation. A REC, and its associated attributes and benefits, can be sold separately from the underlying physical electricity associated with a renewable-based generation source.”

“RECs represent the right to claim the attributes and benefits of the renewable generation source,” the EPA states. “If the physical electricity and the associated RECs are sold to separate buyers, the electricity is no longer considered ‘renewable’ or ‘green.’ The REC product is what conveys the attributes and benefits of the renewable electricity, not the electricity itself.”

As one board member said May 5, “If we sell the RECS, we can’t call ourselves green.”

Such symbolic claims have value as we Americans work to convince ourselves to do the right thing, but beyond selling the right to claim environmental stewardship, selling RECs lends an undeserved aura of good behavior to the buyer.

As Shakespeare famously said, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Purchasing the right to claim a clean energy source won’t remove the stink of pollution from a buyer’s smokestack or save the life of a soldier fighting to maintain access to embattled oil fields. We hope the Five Town CSD will resist the temptation to make a few dollars by selling its good name.