You’ve described yourself as a libertarian progressive. What does that mean? I really strongly believe in the principles of individual liberty and freedom as outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I think those documents and that philosophy unite us as a country and culturally and I think they’re really important to who we are and who we could be. At the same time, when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written, slaves were three-fifths of a person, women couldn’t vote, certainly the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples was not envisioned; so while I believe in really strong allegiance to these founding documents and principles, I also think that there’s something very important about the progress of America, and progressive change over time toward fulfillment of our ideals in the areas of civil rights and economic equality. Sometimes there’s a tension there, but I think it’s an important one.
What are your thoughts on the shutdown? If you were in office, what would you be doing to address the crisis? The sequester and the shutdown and the prospect of default on our debt are unforgiveable. It’s irresponsible to lurch from economic crisis to economic crisis. There’s definitely a lack of long-term vision, courage, and honesty in these debates. People are not always going to agree with what I stand for, but you will always know where I stand, and I will always listen respectfully to different points of view. That’s what I’ve done for my entire career. What I would do is to try to find principles and solutions we can work on together in advance of the problem surfacing. This idea of always going to the crisis point and coming up with solutions that are short-term is unacceptable. I think part of that problem is the lack of fresh energy and a willingness to go sit down with the Tea Party and find out: What are the core areas of agreement? We may never agree on full spending for Social Security and Medicare, two programs that I think are extremely important. We may not agree on student-loan debt forgiveness. But in terms of reducing funding for the surveillance-industrial complex, I suspect there is a lot of common ground. If elected I would certainly work proactively with people of all viewpoints to build coalitions and work toward common solutions in advance of crises.
When you left the ACLU last month you highlighted several notable accomplishments achieved during your tenure at that organization. Which are you most proud of, and why? I was on the leadership team for the Mainers United for Marriage campaign for over seven years. It was wonderful but it was exhausting. It was difficult and at times emotional. But the coalition had a common vision of what things could be. One of the pieces I’m very proud of is my work to recruit faith leaders to support the freedom to marry and then our coalition’s work to recruit Republicans for the freedom to marry. We recognized that the progressive vote alone wasn’t going to result in a win, and in equality here in Maine. I’m proud of sticking with a difficult issue over a long period of time and working with diverse allies under pressure.