By the time you read this, the nightmare that has been the 2016 presidential election will be over.

But!

The nightmares to come are just getting started. To get a sense of how Clinton vs. Trump has changed U.S. politics (to say nothing of Bernie, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, the BlackLivesMatter movement, the alt-right, and so on), we asked Maine political folks what they saw in the murky crystal ball of U.S. democracy.

We also asked their predictions for what would happen at the local level, as several key referenda — affecting marijuana legalization, criminal background checks for gun sales, the minimum wage, and ranked-choice voting — were up before the public.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Here are some educated guesses …

tarro-spread-cards-copyHow do you think this national election will realign the U.S. political landscape?


Hopefully by trimming a few
more dense Bushes.

—Nadia Prupis, journalist for Common Dreams [and Dispatch contributor]

To the right, which is weird after 12 years of a Democratic White House, eh? Both parties will lose their extreme wings to new parties by 2020.

—Bob Mentzinger, strategic communications consultant

 

The biggest single development is that the Trump candidacy has shattered the longstanding Republican coalition, so the pieces are now available for a variety of new combinations, some of them potentially promising for the Republic, others menacing to it. Small-government conservatives, the Christian Right, Reagan Democrats, the shell-shocked neocons, the remnants of the old Burkean establishment, and, yes, right-wing nationalists are all going to be trying to forge a new home, some within a reconfigured GOP, others with the Democrats, still more with possible third or fourth parties. The Democrats also have fissures, most prominently between the Sanders Social Democrats and Bill Clinton–era neoliberals.

—Colin Woodard, journalist and author, American Character:
A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good

 

I believe this election will realign the political landscape for both parties. Speaking as a Democrat, I believe our party has already realigned, reorganized, and expanded on our Democratic values thanks to our incredible primary and convention. As a woman who works to encourage more women to run for office, I’m already watching the landscape change and expand. Women are a combination of inspired and completely fired up. They want to run, win, and serve. From where I’m sitting, Mr. Trump only fuels our fire to take a stand, and Secretary Clinton’s historic win will only strengthen our resolve to keep standing firm.

—Jill Barkley, executive director of Emerge Maine

 

Win or lose, the bigotry of Trump’s campaign will continue. It’s now okay to be racist, sexist, xenophobic, insulting, and mean in a way that used to be reserved for anonymous Internet trolls. Whether Trump created it or just exploited it, there’s a lot of anger.

—Helen Lukacs, progressive political activist

We’re either going to have an acute viral infection or the same ol’ chronic bacterial one. In either case, I dislike being sick!

—Matt Brown, Dispatch contributor

 

The most fundamental change from this election is the evolving schism within the Republican Party, and the emergence of a populist, working-class breed of conservatism as the dominant philosophy. Anti-establishmentarianism, protectionism, nationalism, and a cultural rejection of modern society is now the defining characteristic of the party, and will change its electoral fortunes for good and for ill across the country.

—Matthew Gagnon, Maine Heritage Policy Center

 

Whether Kang or Kodos wins, Washington won’t really change. Hopefully, we’ll take a cue from our forefathers and realize a far-off government of dunderheads won’t solve our problems. It will take those of us here in Maine to address Maine’s challenges.

—Michael Cianchette, Bangor Daily News blogger and former Gov. LePage staffer

Democrats can come out of 2016 with a large coalition of women, college-educated white voters, and people of color. Winning Latinos “bigly” can be a major plus for the future, since they’re the fastest-growing population group.

—Amy Fried, chair of the Department of Political Science, University of Maine – Orono

 

First, Trump does not lose. He only wins. Big league. But should Clinton win a rigged election, he’ll start a TV network. It will never lose and include tutorials on eating pizza with a fork. First sponsor: Tic Tacs.

—Steve Mistler, chief political correspondent, Maine Public Radio


Assuming Donald Trump loses the election, what do you think he’ll do next?

 

I suspect Donald will move to build a branded media empire.  Entertainment and marketing have always been what he is best at, and if nothing else, we learned that he spoke to something very powerful in the voting public this year.  Capitalizing on that with a media outlet that continues the cultural battles his campaign fought would be very lucrative.

—Matthew Gagnon, Maine Heritage Policy Center

 

A lemonade stand on Mars that will be so good you won’t be able to stand it. Believe me.

—Bob Mentzinger, strategic communications consultant

I would assume he would purchase a tiny island (if hasn’t done so already) and crown himself king, requiring visitors to wear Make America Great Again hats, golf polos, and khakis. #neverevertrump

—Spencer Thibodeau, Portland City Councilor

 

Leveraging the strong personal brand he’s cultivated with a select cross-section of Americans, Trump will open up the first all-inclusive destination resort for vape enthusiasts.

—Matt Dodge, Dispatch contributor

 

Grope, but with somewhat less impunity. Unless he’s on TV. And he’ll always be on TV.

—Matt Brown, Dispatch contributor

Build a grotesque and ostentatious media empire with his right-wing cohorts to rival FOX News. “News,” casino-style.

—Deirdre Fulton, journalist with Common Dreams [and Dispatch contributor]

tarro-cards-1050Assuming Hillary Clinton wins the election, how do you think her presidency will be defined?


We should see more of the plodding progressivism that has defined Obama’s domestic policy. Clinton’s hawkish tendencies could lead to a more interventionist foreign policy. Republicans will oppose her as vehemently as they have Obama, and her penchant for secrecy will result in extremely critical press coverage.

—Michael Shepherd, reporter, Bangor Daily News

 

I think it’s incredibly important that she’ll be the first female president. And I also think she’ll start WW3 — which is not one but two bullet points for the history books!

—Matt Brown, Dispatch contributor

If Clinton is as competent in her presidency as she’s been in running her campaign, she’ll be very successful, though there’s no doubt that from day one, Trumpists will try to bring her down.

—Amy Fried, chair of the Department of Political Science, University of Maine – Orono

 

With support for right-wing coups against democratically elected leaders abroad, a suicidal carbon-intensive energy policy at home, and austerity and budget cuts for social programs that save lives. Which is to say, nothing will change — unless we organize as the working class, engage in mass strikes, run our workplaces democratically, and end capitalism.

—Asher Platts, political activist and former Green Party candidate for state senate

 

For the most part, I think we’ll see a presidency defined by the extension of dignity and freedom to more people: continued momentum on criminal justice reform; a shoring up of reproductive rights; greater protections for LGBTQ people.

—Rachel Myers Healy, ACLU of Maine

Following an election cycle in which Hillary was able to avoid any talk of concrete policy proposals and define her candidacy solely in opposition to Trump’s xenophobic populism, Hillary will do whatever the hell she wants for the next four years, having made no promises that she needs to keep.

—Matt Dodge, Dispatch contributor

 

People across the political spectrum will criticize her for droning on and on.

—Nadia Prupis, journalist, Common Dreams [and Dispatch contributor]


What type of election do you believe we’ll see in four years?

An intensely negative one. The Republicans will continue to struggle with the conflict between working-class populist rage and attempts by the more traditional, elite wings of the party to produce a nominee with broader appeal. The Democrats will be paralyzed by a deeply unpopular president and fatigue from 12 years in power.

—Matthew Gagnon, Maine Heritage Policy Center

 

Valid third- and perhaps fourth-party challengers.

—Bob Mentzinger, strategic communications consultant

In 2020, the election cycle will be four full years of the worst TV we’ve ever seen.

—Matt Brown, Dispatch contributor

 

The American political system is broken because Americans are coerced into the straitjacket of a dysfunctional two-party system and forced to deal with the false mores of a punitive puritanical past. The founders fought for a better future, but American politicians are willing to discard America’s ideals for pyrrhic ideological victories. It’s time to reassess.

—Anouar Majid, Founding Director, Center for Global Humanities, University of New England

 

There will be no election in four years. All of this year’s campaign rhetoric will come true and everything will end. It will be like Mad Max. We’ll race across a barren wasteland in salvaged cars on a desperate search for provisions.

—Steve Mistler, reporter, Portland Press Herald

Taking a page from Trump’s reality-television–inspired 2016 run, the 2020 campaign will be largely based on American Ninja Warrior. It might seem silly, but an obstacle course is still a better system than the electoral college.

—Matt Dodge, Dispatch contributor


How will the Republican or Democratic Parties build their next coalition?

Among the pressing issues facing the country are climate change, economic fairness, and immigration. The Democratic Party will build coalitions nationally and internationally to advance progressive policies for a greener and more fair economy. Democrats will also support a more diverse culture and population in the nation by embracing and passing immigration reform legislation.

—Michael Brennan, former Mayor of Portland

 

The future of the Democratic Party — unless they manage to crush it mercilessly underfoot, which they might — is with the Bernie crowd, the young progressives. The Republican Party has no coherent future. They’ll have to evolve, split up, or just go honest-to-God, Klan-like White Power. Which can only get them so far, because half of U.S. kids under five are non-white.

—Matt Brown, Dispatch contributor

The Democrats need to navigate the brewing storm created by the division between increasingly far-left, activist-oriented Socialists and the traditional elite, or they will have a civil war that looks a lot like what the Republicans are living through right now. The Republicans need to find a way to disarm their civil war and unify the disparate factions currently warring with each other. Both are tough jobs.

—Matthew Gagnon, Maine Heritage Policy Center

 

National demographics favor Democrats. If Republicans are going to be the nativist party of Trump, they may trade short-term wins in some areas for long-term losses in wider areas. They shouldn’t fight inclusiveness.

—Michael Shepherd, reporter, Bangor Daily News

 

The Democrats can build their party by picking up on the most compelling aspects of the Bernie campaign. Sanders has sought to scale back U.S.-initiated interventions in foreign countries. He’s in favor of a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and other environmentally destructive energy sources. He’s against prohibition of marijuana laws. He’s against the “war on drugs.” He favors restrictions on banks and Wall Street firms. He wants to end “too big to fail.” These are all good, solid policy approaches.

—Jon Hinck, Portland City Councilor

istock_88452977_xxxlargeWhat changes do you foresee if the Citizen’s Initiative vote to legalize Marijuana use in Maine passes? What are your fears on the subject?


I might be the only Maine twentysomething who has never inhaled, but elections hardly ever change things as much as you think they will. Implementation will be slow and full of political conflict, focused on limiting kids’ consumption. Cities and towns will have heated votes on allowing shops. But Mainers will like marijuana tomorrow about as much as today; you’ll just be able to get it at a store.

—Michael Shepherd, reporter, Bangor Daily News

 

I see a new industry well within Maine’s social and agricultural traditions that produces badly needed jobs and revenue without societal upheaval or risk to minors.

—Bob Mentzinger, strategic communications consultant

Some people are afraid that cheap marijuana will make it impossible to make money as a grower because anybody will be able to grow six plants, but literally anybody can grow tomatoes, yet I still buy mine. It’s gonna be fine.

—Asher Platts, political activist and former Green Party candidate for state senate

 

Passing Question 1 is a good idea. It doesn’t make sense to punish adults for smoking pot. I think people will realize pretty quickly that the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks. I know there are worries about keeping kids safe, but that hasn’t played out in other states that have legalized. If anything, Question 1 gives us more tools to protect kids than the current underground market.

—Rachel Myers Healy, ACLU of Maine

 

I foresee getting high. My fear is that I’ll be too high to choose a movie on Netflix.

—Matt Brown, Dispatch contributor


Suppose the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $12 in 2020 is passed — what do you think that will change in the maine economy?

Question 4 is a disaster. According to a Maine Heritage Policy Center analysis, it could lead to more than 14,000 jobs lost, with a destructive impact felt in the service industry. Portland is best situated to weather such effects, as all American metro areas pay higher wages, but it will barely notice as rural Maine’s economy is obliterated.

—Matthew Gagnon, Maine Heritage Policy Center

I think the minimum wage will raise, as it has before, and employers will figure out how to make it work or they won’t. Either way, I’m scared it may be too-little-too-late for an unknown number of Portlanders getting priced out of town.

—Samuel James, musician and journalist, The Bollard

 

I’m not an economist. Maybe my views on this are unsophisticated. But I feel we should do everything we can to aid people who work all the fucking time in not being fucking broke. If passing this proposal helps, good.

—Matt Brown, Dispatch contributor

 

I support it. It’ll provide an overdue increase in the minimum wage without having a negative impact on businesses. We’ve already seen an increase in the minimum wage in Portland that’s helped workers, and the economy hasn’t suffered. I think a wage increase will attract new workers to Maine and help retain current workers.

—Michael Brennan, former Mayor of Portland

Raising the state minimum wage will be the first step toward fairer wages for our workers, and will buoy our economy overall. The more money in the pockets of hardworking Mainers, the more they’ll have for housing, food, and so-called luxuries.

—Jill Barkley, executive director, Emerge Maine

It will bolster Portland’s economy by putting more retail products and housing within the reach of more lower-middle-class residents, and hurt Maine’s rural economy by requiring unaffordable wages for menial farm labor.

—Bob Mentzinger, strategic communications consultant

It would give Maine the third-highest minimum wage in the country and will hurt Maine’s restaurant industry most of all. While we all can agree that the minimum wage should increase, the elimination of the tip credit in this referendum question will change Maine’s critically acclaimed restaurant industry forever. Most people don’t even know it’s in there.

—Greg Dugal, Maine Restaurant Association

 

Portland will be fine, but how much will the economy in rural places grow between now and 2020? I’m not predicting massive job losses, but there are legitimate concerns that would have been easily allayed with a smaller increase or no changes to the tip credit.

—Michael Shepherd, reporter, Bangor Daily News

I’d expect restaurants to review compensation. If unchanged and tipping 20 percent remains custom, the front of the house will be the place to be for 2017–2024.

—Darren Fishell, reporter, Bangor Daily News

 

In my wildest dreams, this victory will mean that Maine workers see that change is actually possible and begin to organize for paid sick leave, fair scheduling, an end to wage theft, and to be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. In fact, holler at me if you want in on that.

—DrewChristopher Joy, Southern Maine Workers’ Center

istock_88462855_xxxlarge

Will ranked-choice voting (RCV) prevent Maine from electing another Paul LePage?


Come on, ranked-choice didn’t stop Portland from electing another Ethan Strimling, did it? Let’s be real. LePage didn’t win either time because of a spoiler. He won because the Democratic Party put up weak candidates and offered a fuzzy pile of platitudes as a platform. He won because he spoke bluntly to disaffected voters, offering simplistic solutions to their problems, but solutions nonetheless. If anything, ranked-choice will make it easier for engaging kooks with ridiculous agendas to win high public office (looking at you, Green Independents), because a lot of voters will think, What the hell, I’ll give them my third-place vote. What harm could it do?

—Al Diamon, political columnist

 

If you mean a candidate who more than half the population actively dislikes, then yeah, probably. If you mean a candidate who’s kind of a loose cannon, then no, of course not. And what bums me out is that initiatives to get people to take RCV seriously are doomed to failure if we keep supposing its main selling point is that it keeps fringy candidates away from power. It does not. RCV allows people to vote their conscience without fear of throwing a vote away, full stop.

—Brian Kevin, journalist, Down East magazine

Of course not. First, Question 5 is clearly unconstitutional and will be struck down. The Maine Constitution clearly states that once a plurality has been reached, a candidate has won, so if RCV were to overturn the plurality winner, it would be a violation of the Constitution. Second, there is no doubt that LePage would have won under RCV in 2014, so obviously Maine can elect him in such a system.

—Matthew Gagnon, Maine Heritage Policy Center

 

Ranked-choice voting will narrowly pass in Maine. No candidate as divisive as Paul LePage will be elected in Maine or any jurisdiction that adopts RCV. In 2010, LePage’s support was capped at no more than approximately a third of the electorate. He would have gotten very few second-choice votes. In 2014, he again benefited from a three-way race with the third-party candidate sniping at the Democratic nominee for not being gay-friendly or women-friendly enough, and for being too close to organized labor. LePage benefitted from this antagonism to his left. He also benefitted from incumbency. With RCV, LePage never would have been an incumbent.

—Jon Hinck, Portland City Councilor

 

I don’t think ranked-choice voting will prevent another Paul LePage necessarily, but it will certainly shut the window he snuck in through.

—Samuel James, musician and journalist, The Bollard

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