If it ain’t broke, break it

| April 22, 2015

Republican  DemocratEditorial by Asheville Citizen-Times, April 17, 2015.

Let’s have a show of hands: Who thinks North Carolina politics aren’t partisan enough?

Hello?

Anybody?

We don’t imagine any hands are shooting up here in the real world, but we do see some being raised in the North Carolina General Assembly, where a push is afoot to turn both statewide judicial races and local school board elections into partisan affairs.

The judicial move is a terrible idea; the concept of functioning courts relies on impartial and unbiased judges who are beholden to citizens and the concept of justice, not to campaign donors. If anything, turning local school board elections into partisan affairs may be an even worse idea.

A bill that would make the change for school board races statewide cleared a state House committee Tuesday and headed toward the full House.

The rationale regarding making local elections partisan is pretty weak tea. Backers say it gives voters more information and increases voter participation and that local elections are already partisan.

In fact it is already fairly easy to find a school board candidate’s partisan leanings by looking at which partisan group in endorsing them. But codifying partisanship opens a number of cans of very nasty worms.

First, let’s dispense with the “information’’ argument. This move is nothing more than an attempt to jam people into partisan ideologies to the benefit of the party that currently is enjoying its turn on the political carousel.

Some circles like to decry the “low information voters” out there. All this does bill does is take us further down the path of people voting without knowing the candidate. If a person’s beliefs can be summed up voting for a single letter, D or R, why should people do their homework in figuring out who belongs in office?

“The electorate needs to know who they’re voting for philosophically,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. George Cleveland, told the News and Observer last week.

We couldn’t agree more. Which is why we should all do our homework before we walk into the booth.

Other problems: money will start flowing into these races, filling our mailboxes and inboxes with yet more slime and pushing nominally moderate candidates to one end of the political spectrum or another.

The move is a huge slap in the face to the rapidly growing block of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina. In Transylvania County U’s outnumber both R’s and D’s; under the proposed system an unaffiliated voter would either be forced to join one of the two parties or could face strictures of current law that call for an unaffiliated voter running in a partisan election to clear a signature-gathering bar.

Most importantly, the overwhelming majority of issues faced by school boards are not political. They’re pragmatic. Despite the notions of some people out there who see every issue as ideological, geometry is not one of them, nor is getting a kid on and off a bus safely.

Our schools face real problems. Too little partisanship isn’t one of them. A General Assembly with an attitude of “if it ain’t broke, break it’’ most certainly is.

 http://www.citizen-times.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/04/17/just-nc-needed-partisanship/25930911/

Category: NC SPIN Perspectives - Opinions from NC Leaders & Organizations

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