We have seen the Republican plan to redraw Maine’s two congressional districts, and we have seen the Democratic plan. We would like to see one more.

Before next week’s public hearing on the issue, we hope that both sides can come together and compromise on a plan that could win the endorsement of the redistricting commission and have a realistic chance of getting two-thirds support from both houses of the Legislature when it convenes for a special session next month.

That is not the only way this process could end, but it is the best way. It would be much more desirable than lawmakers failing to agree and sending the issue to the courts for resolution. And it would be far better than the Republicans using their majorities in the state House and Senate to change the law that requires a two-thirds vote on redistricting questions so they could force their map through on a partisan vote.

The point of this exercise is to draw a line with half the state’s population on either side. It shouldn’t be as hard as the parties are making it.

The Republican plan achieves equity (with only one more person in the 2nd District than the 1st, according to the 2010 census) but it also radically redistricts the state in a way that would give their party a political advantage.

The Republicans would move Androscoggin County into the 1st District, shipping solid Democratic votes into the already Democratic 1st District, and replacing them in the 2nd District with Republican votes from Kennebec, Lincoln and Knox counties.

At first glance, this map looks like a slap at 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree, because her North Haven home would now be in the 2nd District, but Pingree has nothing to worry about. There is no constitutional or state law barrier to her running for re-election and, if anything, her district looks even safer than it did before.

The real target appears to be 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud, who would lose a Democratic stronghold in Lewiston and Auburn, and would be forced to campaign in coastal areas in which he is not well known.

The Democratic plan, which moves one town but keeps the districts otherwise intact, has a few disadvantages of its own. The lines are not as straight as those on the Republicans’ map, and the Democrats appear to be just as politically motivated as the GOP. Maine Democrats have won every U.S. House race since 1996, and that may explain their spirited defense of the status quo.

But at least their plan has history on its side. The shape of the district has been roughly the same for 50 years, since Maine lost its third congressional district after the 1960 census, and both districts have been represented by Republicans, although not recently.

The point of redistricting is not to send a Republican to Congress, or snatch a stray electoral vote for a Republican nominee for president.

There has been no upheaval similar to the loss of a congressional district at this time that would justify radically changing the alignment that two generations of Mainers have grown up with.

There are 1st District towns and 2nd District towns, and they shouldn’t be switched back and forth every time a new party comes to power.

Fortunately, there are many choices available to the parties that would even-out the districts without throwing away half a century of history.

Republicans don’t need to stack the deck. They control both U.S. Senate seats, the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature, proving that they can win elections in Maine when they have the right candidates and issues.

The first Tuesday in November in even-numbered years is the time for politics. Mid-August in 2011 should be a time for the parties to compromise.

There is room for a third redistricting plan that both sides can support. And the time to present it is coming soon.