In today’s video blog Merritt Heminway shares his thoughts on the current election cycle. He has an interesting view on the respect that he shows for the courts and the laws of our society, and how, sadly, that kind of civility doesn’t seem to be present in this year’s Presidential election.
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Here is a transcript of the video:
A Portland Maine Defense Attorney’s View Of The Presidential Election’s Lack Of Civility
I wear a suit to work every day, and the reason I wear a suit to work every day is because I’m in court almost every day. I wear a suit to court as a sign of respect. It’s a sign of respect to the institution, to the third branch of government, the courts. I am privileged and honored to be sworn in as an officer of the court and that’s why I wear a suit as a sign of respect to the institution and the power that it has.
The courts are extremely powerful. They can take your money, they can take your kids, they can lock you up. As a gesture to that power, I wear a suit, and I stand up when the judge enters the room. I speak in formal language and I don’t use foul language and I do not insult or degrade my opponent or anybody in the courtroom. It is that kind of basic respect that upholds the institutions of the courts.
It is the courts that uphold the concept of law in our society. I believe strongly in that, that is why I went to law school, that is why I practice law, because I believe in the courts as an institution that can do good in peoples’ lives and because I believe in a nation of laws. The frustrating thing about this presidential election on the republican side, is that that kind of civility and that kind of respect seems to have completely disappeared at this point.
What that means is that, the respect for the institution of the presidency or the respect for the institution of the political election process that is being degraded as we speak. If I went to court in my pajamas and used foul language, it would be a terrible insult, and I would very rightly be held in contempt of court for that.
But yet we see folks running for the highest office of the land throwing personal insults at each other using foul language, making references that have absolutely no place in a presidential election.
These are very serious times and these are very serious issues, and we need to take them seriously, and I think that when the presidential election begins to resemble a silly TV show, that we all lose, because the only way that our democracy that our republic stays alive and healthy is when each of us as citizens shows those institutions the respect they deserve.
There are certainly many decisions of politicians and many decisions of judges that I very strongly disagree with, but I obey them, but I respect them. I continue to wear my suit, I continue to use best behavior when I appear on behalf of clients.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask that our presidential candidates do the same. Maine has a strong tradition of voter participation, we have one of the highest rates of people actually going to the polls and voting which is something to be proud of.
We also have a strong tradition in the State of Maine of crossing party lines. Folks who are registered republicans in the State of Maine are more likely to vote non-republican and other republicans in other states, and the same goes with democrats. Democrats are more likely to switch party lines in Maine than they are in many other states.
So, we have a strong tradition here of voter participation and voter awareness and voter independents. It’s my sincere hope that this crazy election cycle will not diminish that. Our governor’s endorsement of Donald Trump lately concerned that that may further degrade the discourse regarding this election. But ultimately I think I have continuing confidence in the voters of the State of Maine, that they will not let party affiliation or silly antics affect their serious decision in the voting booth.
When people are not afraid to voice their opinions loudly on the streets, I have a bit of a swell of pride. Here on Monument Square, we see protests all the time and it’s a good thing. It’s a healthy democracy. But particularly on the republican side, I have serious concerns when the candidates themselves are failing to show respect for the process.