Want to Fix Government? The Answer Isn't Bipartisanship, It's Nonpartisanship


I have written several articles about bipartisanship and Congressional gridlock. My comments repeatedly stress the need for more cooperation, consensus, and collaboration between the political parties. And I’ve mentioned more than a few times that our election process needs to give third-party and independent candidates more visibility.

My proposed solution has centered on ranked voting and top-two or top-three primaries. I think a better solution would be to make all elections, primary and general, at the local, state, and federal levels, nonpartisan. Many local elections, especially for city councils, are already conducted in this manner. What exactly would this entail?

-Party affiliation would not appear in any printed, verbal, or online communication identifying the candidate. Only the candidate’s name and office they are seeking are allowed.

-Party affiliation may be stated in a list of organizations the candidate is a member of or in a list of endorsements if a party or parties have given such endorsement.

-Ballots will not be broken down by political party. Candidates will be listed based on random selection by office.

Political parties are private organizations.  Their role in elections is governed by election statutes. They are subject to IRS Code section 527 for tax purposes. Membership is gained by specifying party preference when registering to vote.

The Constitution protects our freedom of assembly and association, so I am not proposing doing away with political parties. Political parties exist in virtually every form of government. But parties can be a negative influence on the very act of governing that they are meant to facilitate. One needs to only look at Congress and many state legislatures for verification.

Party positions on the issues will always be part of the political debate. However, I firmly believe that removing party identity during the election process will lead to more focus being given to the candidate’s position. Removing party affiliation from the candidate’s name should allow third-party and independent candidates to be heard. Removing the importance of political parties from the ballot may even give some candidates more freedom to express their true positions and solutions on issues and not be bound by party talking points for fear of losing.

Some lawmakers are trying to revive bipartisanship. There have been some positive signs, but bipartisanship is not off life-support. Making all elections nonpartisan could bring our political process and the function of governing back to life, back to doing what they are supposed to do ‚— serving us.