Through a fair, democratic process, our state elected a governor whose vision, competence and manner are a staggering disappointment to many of us.

Should Messrs. Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler both continue to exercise their legitimate rights to pursue the governor’s office, we are poised to repeat this disaster – because the electoral system of the U.S. is designed for an increasingly outdated two-party system.

We are not likely to enact constitutional revisions involving runoff elections or ranked-choice voting before November. If only we had a history of statesmanship that we could invoke to craft solutions in times like this.

But wait! We do. Our small state does have such a tradition – from Margaret Chase Smith, to Edmund Muskie, to George Mitchell, to Olympia Snowe and others.

In this critical moment, the leading statesmen of Maine affiliated with independent and Democratic politics have an opportunity to save us all. I implore them to do so.

My suggestion:

George Mitchell and Angus King should convene a public debate specifically between Cutler and Michaud.

Among the questions that each candidate is asked should be the following: “If, three weeks before Election Day, you are third in unbiased polls, would you commit to publicly withdraw, throwing full support behind your opponent in this debate? If not, why not?”

Only through this exercise will the voters of Maine have a chance to clearly assess whether these two candidates put our state first, or themselves. I believe that, thus informed, Maine’s electorate will do the right thing.

Eric Lister

Portland and Prospect Harbor