Congress reached a compromise last week to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. But few Americans are counting on a new era of bipartisan bliss.
Angelo and Christine Furgiuele
One tip for living with a spouse who falls on the other side of the political spectrum: Have TVs in separate rooms, like Plymouth Harbor residents Angelo and Christine Furgiuele.
Angelo, a Democrat, likes MSNBC and CNN. Christine, a Republican, doesn’t like the “talking heads.”
In 28 years of marriage, the Furgiueles haven’t influenced each other’s political beliefs.
Christine, a travel agent, remains a “true Republican” — an advocate of “less government, more individual rights and more self-reliance.”
Angelo, a retired executive for Johnson & Johnson’s international drug sales, was born to Italian immigrants who became U.S. citizens. He grew up in the Great Depression, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president.
“It made me very respectful and thankful about what are commonly referred to as entitlements,” he said.
He considered the day President Barack Obama was elected to be the most significant day of his life; she voted for John McCain and Mitt Romney in the last presidential elections.
The Furgiueles disagree with each other about the underlying causes of the recent stalemate.
The advice Angelo would offer to squabbling politicians is: “You compromise and focus the bulk of your efforts on the things you agree on and set aside the things you disagree on.”
Keep doing that, and he believes the list of things they disagree on will get smaller and smaller.
Having different perspectives isn’t a problem for the Furgiueles.
“I think harmony is overrated,” Christine said. “I think it’s nice to have some differences. I’m not looking for a clone of myself.”
Ron and Pat Pantello
There’s one thing Pat Pantello doesn’t always tell her husband, even after 14-and-a-half years of marriage.
“Sometimes Ron doesn’t know who I voted for,” she said.
She won’t say whether she voted for President Barack Obama in the last election. She voted for Bill Clinton, but only once.
Ron Pantello, however, doesn’t keep secrets from his wife about the candidate of his choice.
Ron is a Republican. The former CEO of Havas Health has been a moderate Republican his entire life.
Pat, who was a managing editor at Doubleday at the peak of her career, switched her voter registration to Independent a couple years ago after being a Democrat for most of her adult life. Originally, though, she registered as a Republican and voted for Richard Nixon.
Later, as a single woman in New York who was socially liberal and involved in many volunteer efforts, she started thinking more like a Democrat.
Politics may have grown more partisan over the years, but the Pantellos certainly haven’t.
“I think we’ve changed each other for the better,” Pat said. “Whether that upsets the Tea Party or my very liberal friends, so be it.”
“I’m a Rockefeller Republican or maybe a Chris Christie-like Republican,” Ron said. “Therefore, I’m disgusted that the Republican Party has been hijacked by right-wing radicals.”
He believes Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault for the current political state.
When asked if he had considered becoming an Independent, like his wife, he said he’d been thinking about it.
“I probably am more of an Independent,” he said, drawing cheers from his wife.
The Pantellos talk politics every night while the TV is blaring. They watch and listen to everything from CNN to NPR to Fox News.
They don’t always agree, but they don’t get angry about a difference of opinion.
Pat offers this advice to Washington, D.C., politicians who refuse to reach out across the aisle: “If Ron and Pat can get along and talk and be responsible, they should do the same goddamned thing.”
George and Madelyn Spoll
George Spoll likes to tell the story of how he effectively canceled his vote.
“Before I met Madelyn, she was really apolitical,” he says.
Madelyn Spoll says she hated politics — specifically, the politicians and all their promises. But George convinced her that voting was the right thing to do.
“Then she goes and she cancels out my vote,” he says.
George has been a Republican since he could vote, although he has cast ballots for Democrats and Independents. He voted for John McCain and Mitt Romney in the last two presidential elections and calls himself a “very, very middle of the road Republican,” although his wife doesn’t always see him as a moderate.
She calls herself middle-of-the-road on fiscal issues but liberal on social issues. She’s a registered Independent who voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, but didn’t check either name for president in the last election. For the other races, she voted against every incumbent.
The Spolls agreed on one thing during the recent government shutdown.
“We agree that it’s idiotic,” George says. “We disagree on who was to blame.
“His (President Obama’s) lack of maturity and political experience, to me, is a very important part of the failure,” he said.
But, as he explains the way our leaders behaved, his wife interjects.
“Boehner was good!?” she exclaims. “He lost total control.”
Madelyn explains one of the key differences between them: Her husband argues everything logically, while she argues emotionally.
“I blame everybody,” she said. “I blame John Boehner, the Tea Partiers, the very extreme right … Politics is all about compromise.”
The Spolls agree their different perspectives on issues probably stem from having grown up in different parts of the country in different generations.
He’s a self-described Yankee who’s originally from New York, grew up in Connecticut and worked in the homebuilding industry. She’s 12 years his junior and hails from Oklahoma. She’s worked as an administrative assistant in insurance and the entertainment industry and also for an oil landman and a labor relations office.
When it comes to town politics (which are non-partisan), they usually agree (a good thing, given that George is the former mayor of Longboat Key).
“We come at it (politics) from different directions, but we came here together,” Madelyn said.
When it comes to politics, the Spolls agree to disagree.
“One of the things that’s always intrigued me about Madelyn is her different point of view,” George said.
“He knew I was independent,” Madelyn said. “But I don’t think he thought I was that independent.”Still, to show it’s possible to work with someone on the other side of the aisle, we sought out three couples who disagree politically — yet still find harmony together.
If you’re a Republican on Longboat Key, you’re in the majority. Of the island’s voters, just more than 51% are registered Republicans, while approximately 26.35% are Democrats. The remaining 22.55% of voters are registered as no party affiliation, Independents or members of another party.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]