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Phil Harriman, a former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth, is the founding partner of Lebel & Harriman, a financial services firm. Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland, is the president of Swing Hard. Turn Left, which promotes progressive policy at the local, state and national levels.
Phil: Hey, I hear you celebrated the fourth anniversary of your 50th birthday, Happy Birthday!
Ethan: I did indeed celebrate my 54th trip around the sun. Can I still say I am in my early 50s?
Phil: Well, I’m 66 and say I am in my early 60s, so sure, join the youthful-feeling crowd. What did you wish for this year?
Ethan: Democrats acting like Democrats.
Phil: I would prefer just the opposite. No wonder I wasn’t invited to the celebration. But it’s not my birthday, so I’ll flow with it.
Ethan: Republicans frustrate me when they behave as Republicans, but at least they are behaving exactly as expected: Irresponsibly. I expect better from Democrats, especially since they ran for office on a platform of believing in Democratic Party values. You know, equality, ensuring everyone gets a fair shot, caring for those in need and keeping the planet from melting.
Phil: You left out blowing up the deficit, creating more welfare dependence, and taking us back to the days of Jimmy Carter and Stagflation.
Ethan: There is honestly nothing I hate more than being elected on one platform, then working to enact something very different when you get into office.
Phil: Is there someone in particular you are referring to?
Ethan: I wish it was singular. Unfortunately, our column isn’t long enough to list everyone who has failed this basic test. U.S Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are the most obvious these days. Gov. Janet Mills with her vetoes last spring. Rep. Jared Golden on his vote against the stimulus and his efforts to scuttle vital provisions of the Build Back Better plan. In truth, Chellie Pingree and Angus King are the truest of the lot at the federal level these days, and Angus isn’t even a Democrat!
Phil: What you label “untrue” I consider “conscientious.” Making decisions based on what they feel is best for the country, not what their party wants.
Ethan: Party makes no difference to me. It is values that matter. If you run on Democratic principles, you can’t simply walk away from them because it is politically easier or because your donors don’t like your position.
Phil: We’ve seen the same in my party, yet as someone who was seen as a “moderate” on social issues, I often felt the heat from the base of my party for straying from the dogma they expected. Obviously these days that is more rampant than ever.
Ethan: The difference is that you ran as a “moderate.” You were elected as a pro-choice Republican, who believed in equal opportunity for the LBGTQ community.
Phil: But Manchin has hardly ever been a pro-big government Democrat. You’d be hard pressed to find a single quote from his campaigns where he supported the level of spending being proposed by President Joe Biden.
Ethan: Well, there were no campaign quotes from him supporting a $1 trillion infrastructure plan either, but he supported it because it spent on the stuff he wanted. And every year he supports a Pentagon budget that is twice as big as Build Back Better. So, I just don’t buy that he isn’t willing to invest in our economy.
Phil: Every elected official has their priorities and I for one am glad Democrats are not all simply falling in line. I feel the same about Republicans.
Ethan: I don’t need anyone to fall in line. I just want them to have a spine.
Phil: Well, since it’s your birthday, I’ll let you have that last word. But my birthday is around the corner. I will expect the same.