AUGUSTA — The first thing that members of the Socialist Party of Maine want to make clear is that they support democracy.
That democracy stretches across all parts of life from politics to the workplace and everything in between.
On Sunday, the Socialist Party of Maine held its founding convention at the Viles Arboretum, during which they unified the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine and the Socialist Party of Southern Maine into a statewide party and started to map out strategies for running for office.
“Because we believe in democratic socialism, we take both the democratic and the socialism very seriously,” Tom MacMillan, one of the organizers of Sunday’s event, said.
Democratic Socialism means putting people in communities in control of their lives, he said.
“In their work places that means promoting worker-owned cooperatives; that’s a good example. Democracy at work, democracy at the ballot box and democracy in society. We think that regular people can control their lives better than their bosses can or by the owners of big companies. If factories are owned by their workers they are not going to be sending jobs overseas, because that’s their jobs. They (are) not going to be displacing themselves.”
He said that would be achieved by democratic means.
“We don’t believe in violently overthrowing anybody,” he said.
The timing is not an accident.
MacMillan said in the aftermath of the November presidential election, disillusioned voters have walked away from both major parties for a variety of reasons.
That may result in fertile ground for the party to attract voters who are interested in fair wages, affordable health care, education, food and housing, ending oppression and discrimination as well and building an economy that improves the quality of life for those who live in Maine.
“There’s a real shakeup in American politics,” Jim Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, said, noting that morning cable talk show host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican U.S. representative from Florida and one of the leaders of the Republican revolution in the 1990s, announced earlier this month that he left the Republican Party.
Melcher said discontent also exists among Democrats.
Third parties rise up when a popular figure emerges for voters to rally around, he said, and Maine has a history of flirting with them. When H. Ross Perot ran for president in 1992 on the Reform Party ticket,…