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Phil: Do you smell what I am smelling?
Ethan: The last few pints of blueberries harvested in Washington County?
Ethan: Pumpkin pie?
Phil: Too early.
Ethan: The final stalk of sweet Maine corn?
Phil: Delicious, but no.
Ethan: The smell of pancake and bacon breakfasts attended by politicians now that Labor Day is behind us?
Phil: You are wicked sharp! Ayuh, the official start of campaign season has arrived!
Ethan: And the least favorite time of year for everyone because mailers, TV ads, and micro-targeted digital voter ads follow our every move.
Phil: Agree. You and I have experienced the sprint of these final two months as a candidate, and as pundits for over 30 years.
Ethan: Ahem. The last time you experienced these final two months as a candidate was when candidates “dialed for dollars” on phones that actually had a dial.
Phil: If you are referring to the days when candidates actually spoke with voters versus through an auto-dialer texting program, I say bring back the good ole days. Candidates should have live conversations, not the canned packaging we get today.
Ethan: I’d also love to see a little more vision from our candidates, instead of poll-driven soundbites targeted to the tiniest slice of the electorate that is ideologically undecided.
Phil: And while we’re at it, let’s also denounce the negative onslaught of nastiness we are all about to experience?
Ethan: Sure, but you do realize this is not new? It has been here since the supporters of Thomas Jefferson called John Adams a “hideous hermaphroditical character,” while Adams’ supporters called Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow.”
Phil: Our founders were nothing if not alliterative. And yes, unfortunately negativity works. But to your point of vision, we need to see more aspiration to what one wants to achieve.
Ethan: Here, here. These are tough times in America, and whether you are running for governor or school board, it would be nice to know what mountaintop you want us to climb, not simply what hole you think your opponent will put us in.
Phil: I hope what is different this campaign season is that pundits like us stick to the issues and not personalities. Especially in the governor’s race.
Ethan: Easy for you to say, since it is your guy who has a less than exemplary personality.
Phil: I understand that Paul LePage can be challenging, but we know who he is. If people don’t want his rough edges, they won’t vote for him. Instead, let’s focus on the policies of these two.
Ethan: What a person will (or won’t) do for us, is way more important to me than whether they make inappropriate remarks (racist/sexist/homophobic comments aside). But more importantly, focusing on vision versus personality will result in a landslide for the blue team, IMHO.
Phil: Sadly, we may never know the ideological direction Mainers want to take us in if campaigns only focus on the minutiae of personality or tiny policy ideas that are designed to get 12 extra votes. But while we’re at it, how about acknowledging that public funding of campaigns and rank-choice voting has not minimized the toxicity of campaigns, as it was advertised to do?
Ethan: Well, since the governor’s race has neither a clean election candidate, nor does it use ranked-choice voting, you have it backwards. But if you want to keep going against what Mainers have supported at the ballot box, have at it.
Phil: Like most voters, I suspect, all we really want is some sweet Maine corn, blueberry pancakes with bacon, and a slice of pumpkin pie.