Nonpartisanism extremely beneficial for country, voters

Macy Rice

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Nonpartisanism is known as the lack of affiliation to any particular political party. In nonpartisan elections, candidates are elected based on their own merits, and no political party titles are shown on the ballot. This election style has proved to be extremely beneficial to the public. According to a 2001 survey conducted by the National League of Cities, 77 percent of all responding cities have nonpartisan elections. Kansas is currently in the process of switching away from a nonpartisan election system for city government and school board elected officials.

The current restriction of political parties forces candidates, whether they be presidential or local, to push either extremely right-wing or extremely left-wing ideologies. This restriction is known as “political polarization”, which inherently restricts a candidate’s stance on issues and policies to be defined by their identification with a specific political party. Political polarization, for example, can cause individuals to become less interested with the candidate’s actual views on certain topics, and more focused on which political party they claim to represent.

Benefits of the nonpartisan election style are substantial. Nonpartisanism forces voters to become more involved in elections, and to be more knowledgeable about candidates. In addition to reducing the number of uninformed voters, it would also help to eliminate the extreme candidates from the election. Extreme politicians flourish in a partisan primary, where they appeal to the more traditional, ‘die-hard’ voters of their party. However, in a nonpartisan election, where party labels are removed and candidates deliver their own views, the extreme politicians would stand out and easily be eliminated.

Lobbyists and political party contributors are known to corrupt the campaigns. The contributors influence the politicians by promoting their campaign, leaving them with the obligation to return the favor. In simple terms, “lobbying” means that if someone has enough money, they can modify political decisions. According to Transparency International, an anti-corruption coalition, American lobbying expenses reached 2.8 billion dollars in 2007 alone. Lobbying causes what is best for the public interest to be sacrificed for the good of the party and its contributors. This would no longer be an issue with nonpartisanism, as candidates would no longer have connections with parties.

After taking into account the hefty list of benefits nonpartisanism possesses, it is hard to understand why Kansas is becoming part of the 23 percent who hold partisan elections. Partisanism contains uninformed voters, as well as lying politicians who prefer to hide behind the titles of political parties, while they perform favors for the lobbyists who their campaign would be nothing without.