Commentaries from other newspapers do not necessarily reflect the views of The Monroe Evening News’ editorial board.
Take partisanship out of elections?
FROM THE DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
Voters in November will decide if Michigan will rewrite the state constitution. Some argue that a new constitutional convention is an unnecessary step when changes can be more surgically made by individual amendment.
But that may be the wrong debate. If the constitution is to be changed — either by a sweeping rewrite or one amendment at a time — the far more important question is this: Will the change significantly benefit the way our state operates?
In that vein, we offer a significant change: Why not eliminate the bipartisan extremism by making all elections non-partisan?
That could be the type of major change that could change for the better the way that our state is governed.
Unfortunately, when it comes to some constitutional amendments, support is generated for changes that make the voter feel better, but which don’t accomplish much.
That was the case with term limits. Surely it felt good to some to throw the rascals out. But what good has it accomplished?
Lawmakers responded to shorter terms by dramatically increasing their pay and giving themselves health-care benefits that begin at age 55 even if they only served for six years. Almost all say that they are against that perk, but it still hasn’t been changed. When and if it is changed, you can bet that the benefit will stay intact for current lawmakers.
This isn’t to argue that Lansing got worse because of term limits. But it didn’t get any better, as evidenced by the inept budget deliberations.
At least part of the problem in Lansing is that loyalty to political parties appears to trump service to constituents. Because of the way districts are drawn, many lawmakers come from predominantly Republican or Democratic areas.
That means that the primary election with lower turnout and more partisan voters — tends to decide the November results. Livingston County is a prime example. The legislative candidate who wins the Republican primary in August is virtually assured of election in December. ...
Party loyalty is fine, but it stands to reason that blind straight-party voting sometimes overshadows the credentials of candidates.
The same is true at the township level where party affiliation usually carries the day. One can only wonder if the turmoil in Hamburg Township could have been avoided if voters in the 2008 election for clerk chose among candidates without a party tag after their name.
Judges, school boards and some city councils are elected on nonpartisan ballots. Taking the partisanship out of other elections in the state could be beneficial.
It’s hard to imagine that it could be worse than what we now see — a bitter tug-of-war in which only those who buy into party dogma have a place at the table. We need elected officials who are more beholden to their constituents than to their state political party.
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