Phil Harriman (left) and Ethan Strimling, BDN Agree to Disagree bloggers. Credit: Gabor Degre | BDN

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Ethan: Are you as perplexed as I am about Maine politics after what we saw last week in Augusta when Democrats and Republicans actually agreed on something?

Phil: Mon dieu! If trends like this continue, our whole political ecosystem may collapse.

Ethan: Back in my day nothing like this would ever have happened. The two parties understood their roles, and respected that the other party understood theirs.

Phil: Mine as well. Maybe even more so. In my time last century, Republicans aptly described Democrats as they were: “Damn Democrats!”

Ethan: And Democrats saw Republicans for what you have always been: “Damn Republicans!” In our time, it was a clash of ideas, spirited debates for the hearts and minds of voters. Leaders with passion founded in the arc of moral justice!

Phil: And when one side was unable to impose their will, or the other’s intransigence stonewalled progress, we exercised our constitutional rights and rightly had the court to resolve our differences.

Ethan: Now look at what happened. Just months after being disgusted with each other over the biennial state budget, Democrats and Republicans worked together to redraw the district lines for the Legislature and congressional districts!

Phil: Astonishing! As if they had no partisan agenda! No greater purpose than serving the people of the state!! It’s as if 200 years of tradition and political science were thrown out the window!

Ethan: In my day, back in the early 2000s, we didn’t buckle. We understood the stakes. We took it to court, as you describe, and the court sided with us, the rightful ideology.

Phil: And in the 1990s, ditto. We battled. We went to court. And although we did not win, the people we represented knew that we spoke up for them while we fell on our swords for justice! That is how democracy is supposed to work.

Ethan: Just imagine the impact on society if this behavior continues in other areas of policy making? Maine people would likely have no idea whether to support or oppose whatever is passed and signed into law.

Phil: And Maine voters might be so bored they wouldn’t even turn out at elections. Honestly, what would be the point? If both sides start working together on a regular basis, coming up with answers that everyone can live with, it won’t matter whether the Democrat or Republican wins.

Ethan: And primaries? Why bother if, in the end, we all just start getting along and putting compromise ahead of our birthright values.

Phil: And what about us? Our roles as pundits would be over if all politicians start behaving this way? Our readers would fall asleep reading this column if we have nothing to agree to disagree on.

Ethan: Not just us. Shock jocks would go out of business. Fox News ratings would plummet.

Phil: I would have to stop calling CNN the Clinton News Network.

Ethan: Do you think this is somehow our fault? I mean we do attempt every week to show how Republicans and Democrats can and should talk to each other?

Phil: Good point. From here on out, no more reasonableness toward you from me!

Ethan: You have been reasonable with me? Oh right. Disrespect must continue to rule in these columns! Clearly we now need to call in some chips, reach out to our respective party leadership and make sure this never happens again.

Phil: Do these politicians really think they can get away with working together? Sheesh.