Non-Partisan is Non-thinking
By Evelyn Pyburn
The concept of non-partisan is nonsense.
It’s to say that a person doesn’t have an opinion. It’s to say they aren’t thinking. An employer I once worked for told me that they wouldn’t want someone working for them who didn’t have opinions because it meant they didn’t think.
While I am certain there are people in this world who don’t think, that’s not what “non-partisan” elections mean – it means the voter is to be denied knowledge about WHAT the candidate thinks.
The only thing a party affiliation might convey to a voter is where the candidates generally stand on issues. It’s a short-hand of sorts – which at its best is limited in the information it conveys to the voter but it could convey some information – certainly more than in not knowing. And, if a candidate doesn’t want to identify with either party they can say so. They can declare themselves an independent – and that also conveys information to the voters. Or better yet, they can be very specific with voters about what they do think.
What a voter wants to know is “How do you stand on issues? What can I expect from you in how you administrate?”
The answer to those questions may or may not reflect a specific political party, but there are lots of issues, some likely to be unanticipated, and knowing if a candidate likes one party or another could indicate a general philosophical position for voters — that’s why parties have platforms. The issue isn’t about parties, it’s about ideas.
Why would anyone want to deny voters of as much information as possible? What’s the point in voting if you don’t know what you are voting for? There is an answer to this of course. Within the realm of political gamesmanship there are many times that a candidate doesn’t want the voters to know the truth of their positions, it doesn’t mean they don’t have them. All the more reason a voter should know the ideas and policies a candidate holds.
Those who insist there are benefits to “non-partisanship” are quite obviously partisans.
What is baffling though is why do candidates go along with the program? I have encountered candidates who when campaigning in a “non-partisan election” say they avoid revealing their ideas in case it reflects a specific party. I found that incomprehensible. Just because someone declares it non-partisan doesn’t mean you have to play the game.
There is a sliver of understanding why people may want to see judges identified as non-partisan from the standpoint that that term for many people is interpreted to mean the candidate will be objective in their decisions. Again, utter nonsense.
They – maybe more than most – have ideas and opinions about issues— guaranteed. Declaring that judges should be non-partisan is to misunderstand the point of it all. The question we as voters should want answered is “Can you set your political views and biases aside and interpret the law even if it is contrary to your personal views?” That is real non-partisanship.
If they can interpret the law as written and not advocate for their political views then they can make a good judge – but as we have come to see over the past few decades, this is an increasingly rare ability. Calling for non-partisanship does nothing to identify judges who are smart enough or honest enough to interpret the law.
There are undoubtedly laws that are not good, but if they need to be changed that is the role of legislature – not the judicial branch. Unfortunately, that seems to be an understanding about our system that most judges have forgotten or failed to ever know.
The fact is if a bad law is accurately interpreted by a judge, such a decision could prompt a legislature to correct it – assuming of course that the legislature also sees it as a bad law – ahh, but there’s the rub – most judges who write law rather than interpret the law, do so in order to circumvent a legislature whose majority may very well not agree. Of course, such a judge has absolutely no business being a judge and is in fact unscrupulous in character.
So when you, as a voter, are asked to participate in a non-partisan election, know that partisan games are being played and that you are not being respected as a voter. Understand that the deck is being stacked against you, and dedicate yourself to not accepting such rules.