Republican members walk out of the chamber Friday as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, speaks in Washington. Credit: Alex Brandon / BDN

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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: Did you watch the 15-round slugfest among Republicans to finally reach a near unanimous decision to elect Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives?

Ethan: Glued to MSNBC for four days! Watching your party eat its own with every round was almost as thrilling as watching Donald Trump end the aspirations of Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, et. al., in the Republican primary of 2016. 

Phil: Usually these heavyweight bouts are fought behind closed doors in caucuses. I thought it was enlightening for the public to observe. I prefer having these fights in public, so voters see what and who are making the deals so to speak. 

Ethan: If that’s your preference, you certainly got your short-term wish. But at the expense of our country’s long-term dysfunction.  

Phil: What we witnessed was the priorities of the minority within the Republican Party not being run over by the majority of Republicans. That is pretty rare in politics for either side.

Ethan: It’s rare because giving in to extremists in such a public way gives them more power. 

Phil: That remains to be seen, but what we do know is that Republicans reached a consensus and the whole country now knows what the rules of this session will be. 

Ethan: Yeah, the rules of dysfunction. Imagine if in your workplace, an employee, at any time, as many times as they wanted, was able to call for you to be fired. And then a public vote would be taken and virtually every member of your staff would have to vote to keep you? You need a speaker with power to get things done, and now we don’t have that.

Phil: You also want a speaker who is held accountable by his or her members, so the power doesn’t get out of hand. Plus, the House has established important goals like voting on spending bills separately — no more omnibus, take-it-or-shut-the-government-down spending shenanigans — and votes on term limits and immigration legislation.

Ethan: I’ll give you any odds you want that there will be another Republican-led shutdown of government in the next two years. 

Phil: Voters want to bring our debts under control. They want proof that government agencies aren’t stifling our rights to free speech and privacy. And they want a secure border. These shouldn’t be partisan issues.  

Ethan: Agree on two out of the three. Regarding debt, most voters understand that having some, i.e. a mortgage, puts a roof over your head. Yes, voters want immigration reform and they don’t want the government stifling free speech, but Republicans are making these issues partisan. Launching investigations will do nothing to fix our immigration system. And trying to intimidate the FBI for prosecuting the insurrectionists and investigating Donald Trump’s crimes is a total waste of time. As for term limits, I think that is just another way to strengthen lobbyists and weaken voters. 

Phil: Then these hearings will be short and boring as those testifying reveal, “There is nothing to see here, move along.” 

Ethan: Hey, if this is what Republicans think are the most important issues for voters, I can’t wait for 2025 when we’ll be swearing in President Joe Biden for a second term, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for another two years, most fun of all, House Speaker Hakeem Jeffries! And I can assure you, it won’t take 15 votes to get it done.

Phil: Time will tell, my good friend, time will tell.