By: Marpheen Chann
My name is Marpheen Chann, and I am the student body vice-president at USM and a college democrat. It took me a lot of thinking and some time to finally say what I have to say–that, as a democrat, I am voting for Eliot Cutler in 2014. Don’t get me wrong, I like Mike Michaud, and I have considered the Democratic party family, but I am a democrat in the sense that I believe in democracy, that I have the right and the privilege to vote for who I think is the best candidate and for what I think is best for the state of Maine.
Each and every one of us, as participants in this democracy, have the right and the privilege to vote for the candidate and values we think are best for the state of Maine. To say it is not so, to say that we must vote for who we’re told to vote for, is an assault upon the fundamental principles inherent within our right to vote.
This is what I believe as a democrat. This is what I believe with all my heart. That I am a catalyst for change simply because I can vote. That as a citizen, I can do what is best for the state of Maine by voting for who and what I think is best.
That is a fundamental principle of democracy and that is what Maine has been and should continue to be. Having met with Eliot Cutler and having discussed the challenges that our state faces, I have made the difficult choice, as a democrat, to support the candidate I think has the best solutions for a state with so much untapped potential.
Why has this been such a difficult choice? In part, because I have been part of the party structure and it’s difficult to break away. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it was noticed when I stood with Eliot at a public event. Some in the party asked me why I would stand by this candidate when I am a democrat? Why? Because I am voting with my conscience and a strong belief that Eliot has the best vision, the best plan, the most drive to take us away from politics-as-usual, whether that’s in Augusta or gridlocked Washington, and into new territory.
We can make Maine healthier, smarter, stronger and younger. We can expand healthcare coverage for Mainers who can’t otherwise afford it. We can invest in education by bringing down costs, while at the same time, making it accessible for all students by allowing Maine residents to go to state colleges and universities at no cost, but then pay back their tuition debt over the next 25 years out of their working income. We can become an economic powerhouse if we utilize Maine’s undeveloped economic advantages. We can be a mecca for immigrants, families and young people if we aren’t afraid of making bold decisions about our future. In fact, we must be bold if we want to make Maine a place of greater opportunity.
This year’s election for governor is not only about being bold, but about not being afraid. I have heard the mantra about anyone but LePage–but what if the choice is between politics-as-usual, accompanied by the same group of political players, and a chance to do something innovative?
The year 2014 brings us all to a crossroads. There is the left, and there is the right. The answer is to move straight ahead, to move boldly forward as a people and as a state to do what is best for Maine. Eliot Cutler has a plan to bring all Mainers together, whether you’re a republican, democrat or an independent. No matter who you are, in this democracy, we share a duty to vote for whom and for what we think is best for the state of Maine.
Marpheen Chann is student body vice president.