Phil: From Jackman to Boothbay Harbor, from the wilderness to the sea, I’ve noticed that as the spectacular Maine summer weather is here, people are “socially distancing” from politicians and the upcoming elections.
Ethan: As well they should. But our readers can be thankful that you and I never stop obsessing over social media, letters to the editor, and independent expenditure reports, even during the dog days of campaigning known as “pre-Labor Day.”
Phil: Speak for yourself. I personally attempt to use August to get away from the fog of campaign wars and enjoy this beautiful state.
Ethan: Are you saying my watching videos of Sara Gideon talking to veterans in Augusta or the Lincoln Project ad claiming Susan Collins is a “Trump Stooge” is not the best way to enjoy Maine’s summer?
Phil: If I knew how to post a picture for our readers of me smacking my forehead over that comment, I would.
Ethan: You clearly don’t spend enough time on Instagram or you would know how to do that.
Phil: Thanks. I feel better. Although these are quiet days for most, let’s try to give the readers a sense of what is actually going on behind the scenes politically these days.
Ethan: According to new polling, what’s going on behind the scenes is a blue wave. A recent Colby College poll has Joe Biden up by 12 percentage points, Gideon up 5, and Rep. Jared Golden up 12.
Phil: I hope you noticed in the poll that none of your candidates are over 50 percent, and Donald Trump is only a few points behind Biden in the 2nd Congressional District, where I fully expect he will take that one electoral vote again.
Ethan: It is good to see that even in the dog days of August, your spin cycle is on maximum RPMs. Clearly my side is not taking the summer off, so we have strong winds at our backs for when voters begin tuning in again after Labor Day.
Phil: As you so adroitly point out, it won’t be until after Labor Day that voters will begin tuning in again. And that’s when I will start caring about polls. And while your side is certainly fired up and vocal, just like your beloved Mets, you still have to score more runs than the other team.
Ethan: You mean like we did last week against your beloved Red Sox?
Phil: You may have scored more runs, but we still split the series.
Ethan: Is that like losing the popular vote, but still trying to claim you won the popular vote?
Phil: Still smarting over the fact that we won the presidency fair and square? There’s a quiet multitude who don’t want to be maligned by people who disagree with them, so they keep their thoughts to themselves that I believe aren’t in your polls yet will show up at the polls.
Ethan: C’mon, you’ll have to do better for our readers than simply using the tired Nixonian imagery of the “ silent majority” supporting the Vietnam War, when nothing could have been further from the truth.
Phil: But what is interesting to me is that this election will be different. The challenges we face as a state and nation are more personal than before. If schools reopen, do I send my child back? If a job becomes available, do I risk being around customers? If my business reopens, do I embrace tourists?
Ethan: And all of it depends on the policy direction from Washington on what kind of assistance they will provide and where the pandemic is heading.
Phil: Good luck navigating those waters. Hope your GPS is working.
Ethan: My GPS, compass, and life jacket are all within arm’s reach. But what advice would you give a candidate having to navigate such waters?
Phil: Focus on your own record and your own vision. Tell us how you will use government as a gentle tool, not an oppressive cudgel, to ease our transition back to whatever normalcy will look like. But don’t attempt to tell parents, businesses, workers what to do. That is their choice.
Ethan: As long as you ensure that it is safe to make that choice, that the choice is truly available, and that you will protect everyone, both economically and physically, whichever choice they make, I am in.
Phil Harriman served as a town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth. Ethan Strimling served as mayor and state senator from Portland.