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View Diary: Political Geography of Maine, Part 4: Down East Maine (27 comments)

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  •  Do you think (1+ / 0-)
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    that these changes you mention will also affect southern Aroostook? It's adjacent to northern Washington, and as of now it's strongly conservative.

    (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

    by ProudNewEnglander on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:38:35 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know (3+ / 0-)

      I regularly fish with an old friend, the one who took me on that tour.  He bought a house along the Stream some years ago, and last summer he wanted to show me what was going on in that region.  He was rightly excited, and he could tell me why the economics of this were so good.  I do not have a similar relationship in southern Aroostook county.  

      I should note, however, a very interesting documentary I watched recently on Houlton.  At one time, that town had the second highest percentage of millionaires of any municipality in the country, right behind Newport, RI.  What made all that wealth was potatoes.  What took it away was the closure of the railroad.  The land, and the ability to grow potatoes, is still there.  What is needed is a breakthrough on the ideology that keeps Maine's transportation infrastructure so dysfunctional.  

      Maine has spent a ton of money, and more than a few years, chasing one transformational development project after another in the County.  The story of one of those Valsing disasters showing Ed Muskie how to write the Clean Water Act is quite entertaining, but the long history is profoundly discouraging.  There isn't much to show for it.  This is particularly striking in view of the history of Houlton, where cause and effect is clearly demonstrated.  I don't believe that the folks in the County with whom I have talked are anti-government, per se, but they see the State and Federal governments as welfare agents for County businessmen, not agents for change.  The projection that springs from that is ironic.  I suspect Republican's conviction that poor welfare recipients seek to remain on welfare stems from their observation that those "conservative" business people on welfare conform to that stereotype almost exactly.

      Change that "conservative" mindset, and use the power of the State to re-establish a transportation network that can get the products of that part of the State to market efficiently and predictably, and I think prosperity will follow.  We ought to be running railroads all over the State with some sort of public Authority, and it would help if that sort of entity could step in to modernize our port system.  So, to the extent that this is all somehow seen through a partisan lens, I think that the opportunity for progressive politics is there in the roots of the region even though not much is sticking out of the ground.

      •  I should add a comment about the East-West Highway (2+ / 0-)
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        Nautical Knots, ArkDem14

        The clearest example of counter productive conservative ideology affecting transportation and wealth in these parts of the State is the proposed East West Highway corridor.  It is a spectacularly bad idea, wrong on almost every point, and guaranteed to enrich people like Vigue and impoverish everyone else.  If the Democratic Party in Maine wanted to actually make a case for policies that would change the economies and governing philosophies in those eastern and northern towns, they would be riding this horse until it dropped from exhaustion.  It should not be hard to show why this idea is the opposite of what needs to be done, and from that emerges the outline of what is actually needed, instead of sugarbeets - the sequel.  That the powerful legislative contingent from Aroostook County does not do this says a great deal about what is wrong there.

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