FRIENDSHIP, Maine — Friendship and Hope may have both been named for some of society’s high ideas, but, while they are in the same county, the towns are different places when it comes to party politics.
Friendship is a lobster fishing town and has a solid Republican majority.
Hope used to be a farming town, but residents say its now more of a bedroom community for those who work in other places. Hope is majority Democrat according to numbers from the Maine Secretary of State.
While residents may disagree on some issues, some longtime members of both parties agreed that the nation’s current political divide is a serious problem.
“I think it’s a big problem. It's like nobody is willing to give [on] anything any more,” Friendship Selectman Bubba Thompson, a lifelong Republican, said.
“The division is more scary to me than facing going without oil. It's an issue — where do we come together because you don’t see it happening?”
Margaret Gagnon, who retired to Friendship 25 years ago, agreed.
“I don’t know, it never seemed to matter, did it? You wore 'I Like Ike' for a while and then took it off and were friends again."
A few miles away in Hope, lifelong Democrats Barbara and Bill Bentley might disagree with their GOP counterparts on some issues, but said reducing the country’s political divide is a major concern.
“For the system to work, I think we need conservatives and liberals, if you want to call them Republicans and Democrats, that’s OK,” Bill said. “Human nature demands we find the middle, [and] a compromise to get there.”
“I think we used to think if the candidate [we] supported lost, the candidate elected will have the interests of society as a whole and forge ahead,” Barbara said.
When asked if she now questions that assumption, the answer was simple.
“I do, indeed, and I think demonizing the opposition gets us nowhere.”
Surprisingly, perhaps, the Democrats and Republicans also agreed on another point. All said that, at least to some extent, they are optimistic the problem of political division will get better.
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