When I was younger my parents would often tell me, “never say never” after I had stated that I would never do something. I have found myself using that phrase with regard to statements my children have said. Being a confessed “yellow dog Democrat”, one that would vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican, I have in recent years found myself in quite a quandary. In order to have any input at all in county positions I was going to have to vote in the Republican primary. A little voice started speaking, “never say never.”
This past primary, I had a good friend being challenged for his position in what everyone figured to be a close race. I didn’t want to wake up on March 5 and find that he had lost by one vote so I swallowed my pride, went to the courthouse and voted. When I got to the polling place a woman asked me which primary ballot I wanted. I responded that I didn’t want it by I would take the Republican ballot. I then went to the voting station and voted for local candidates that I preferred but with state-wide races I voted for those that I assumed my Republican friends would least want to be elected. I exercised the same strategy with the referendum items. I am certain that this is the same behavior that local Republicans used when this was a Democratic country.
This leads to another concern, why do we have to have party affiliations for local elections? For the most part, county and other local officials are dealing with the same issues that state and national politicians face. County commissioners deal with issues related to Erath County. The sheriff is involved in enforcing the law in the county. I doubt that any of these county officials will ever vote to repeal Obamacare or pass laws to close abortion clinics, or most issues that are dealt with in Austin or Washington. If the county elections had no affiliations like the city and school board elections everyone could vote for their preferred candidates and not worry about them being Republican, Democrat or Tea Party.
I am not naïve enough to believe there wouldn’t be groups of individuals that might run collectively for positions on a council or commission. It will always be true that if you serve on a council and you are not able to push through your own agenda, you would probably gather together like minds and run as a block of candidates so that if elected the council would change to be supportive of your ideas. But even in this scenario, a voter would not have to claim to be affiliation with a national party to vote in a local election. I understand that many residents will not agree with this position but it would allow individuals in this instance the “never say never” problem.
Bob Newby is a psychology professor at Tarleton State University who lives in Morgan Mill. He is a member of the E-T's community columnists and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.