“The Aisle”, that thing that some politicians claim to reach across and others take pride in never crossing, is more rut than thoroughfare. According to a Mainesenate.org post from December of 2018, the Maine State Senate has made a bold move to remove this perennial block to progress by requiring senators to sit in alternating seats. No aisle to be found. Senate President-Elect Troy Jackson, D of Allagash said of the decision, “All too often, we find that lawmakers can’t work across the aisle. Today, we are going to change that. We are removing the partisan aisle. These senators of the 129th Legislature will sit side-by-side with members from the other party.”
Interesting to note is the fact that the Maine Senate President is a Democrat leading a substantial majority (21-14) where, according to traditional thinking, he would have no need or desire to dilute the influence of his majority. Yet that is what he is doing. No doubt he is also hoping that the arrangement will allow his members to influence the Republican members to compromise on pending legislation. But there is little risk to either side and the upside is tremendous! As a conservative Republican, I am hard-pressed to come up with any criticism of Jackson’s plan and wish him every success. If it works, we should sincerely consider a similar move in the US Senate and House. What say you?