Tom Allen, Democrat, served as Maine's 1st District congressman from 1996 to 2008. An attorney, Allen is a graduate of Bowdoin College and a Rhodes Scholar. He was a member of the Portland City Council from 1989 to 1995 and served as Mayor in 1991. In Congress, Allen's first major initiative was a bi-partisan campaign finance bill. He is the author of Dangerous Convictions (Oxford U. Press, 2013), which examines the problems of polarization and dysfunction in Congress
About the series:
We’ve come a long way since President John F. Kennedy characterized politics as “a noble calling,” to today, when the nation’s political system is routinely described as “dysfunctional” and the political atmosphere in Washington and Augusta as “poisonous.”
Competition and cooperation co-exist in all healthy systems, side by side and sometimes cheek-by-jowel, to advance the system’s purposes. Whether it is a forest ecosystem, the human body, a large bureaucracy, or an economic system, its elements compete for resources to meet their own needs, even as they act to contribute to the survival and persistence of the system itself. Somewhere along the way from the 1960s, the U.S. political system lost sight of this important principle, threatening its public credibility, trust, and purposes.
Each speaker in the series will address these timely and important questions:
- How was politics “played” in earlier times in Maine and the nation? And, how has that changed today?
- How did this come about? What are the implications for the state and the nation of our continuing along this path? And, what will it take to change course?
- What does Maine have to offer the nation in this regard, based on our experience here?