By Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
I don’t know about you, but I am very weary of all the political ads on television this year. Ever since the Supreme Court in 2010 ruled in the Citizens United case, one of those famous 5-4 decisions, that there can be no practical limits on political contributions – ever since then, the money flowing into campaigns and from the campaigns to political ads, has grown without limit. We are seeing the results on television this year, and I’ll bet the Presidential election year of 2024 will be worse.
Other than lobbying our incumbent congressman and senators to reverse Citizens United, an unlikely outcome given that most contributions are given to incumbents, that is a situation we will just have to live with, cheered somewhat that (barring a runoff election) the ads tend to stop the day after the election. It’s like term limits legislation: challengers for office often argue strongly for term limits (as did our own Rep. Jeff Duncan when he was a challenger in 2010) but then argue against them once they become the incumbent (as has Rep. Jeff Duncan, now seeking reelection to his seventh term). Term limits are not likely to pass so long as the decisions are left to incumbents who always seem to want to run one more time.
But there is one decision we can each make at the voting booth this and every year, whether you as a voter tend to prefer Republican candidates or Democrats. That is this: refuse to vote a straight party ticket! Straight party tickets tend to reward those you as a voter feel less strongly about, by bringing them along for the ride as you vote for someone you prefer who is running for a different office. The possibility of voting a straight party ticket is something several groups, including the NAACP, have argued against, asking the legislature to change the process by requiring voters to consider each office separately. If you think about it, straight ticket voting tends to influence candidates for either party to toe the party line on issues that really don’t affect their desired office at all. Why should candidates for Probate Judge or County Sheriff be required to say they agree with their political party when it comes to military expenditures, for example? They shouldn’t. (For that matter, many local offices including Probate Judge or County Sheriff ought, in my view, to be apolitical altogether – without any party affiliation.) Even if you strongly prefer one political party over the other, I recommend to you on this and every election, to make it a point to vote for at least one candidate from the other party, just to keep them all honest. At the local as well as state and federal levels, government works best when it is bipartisan, or better still, nonpartisan.
The bottom line this week is this: whatever your political persuasion, whether you frequently, infrequently, or never agree with this columnist, make sure you vote at next week’s elections. And think about every office, who is running, and why you should support her or him for office this year. If you did not vote early, if you did not vote absentee, and if you are registered to vote – head to your district polling place on Tuesday, November 8th, bring a friend along, and both of you vote!