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WITT: Is it time to do away with political parties?

Could it be that it’s time to do away with political parties?

It may very well be a fact that political parties are not (maybe never have) serving the interests of the average individual.

Wikipedia lists 97 political parties that have existed since 1789, and this list probably is not totally inclusive as some may have been so short-lived or so insignificant that they never raised any interest.

However, today the two major political parties seem to be so divided from one another that the divide is precluding any practical or efficient resolution to so many of the problems confronting American society today.

It seems that even many of those who run for political office are only making use of the parties to raise money to run. If one looks very closely at yard signs or TV ads for individuals running for office it is easy to notice that the name of the party is often not even mentioned on those signs or in those ads.

How many times does one finish watching a TV ad for a politician wondering what party he is running under?

Even the preparation of ballots for the general elections gives a lie to the necessity of political parties. At the top of those ballots — at least those for the 2020 election here in Clark County and certainly for many others in the past — is a box where one can check a box casting all ballots for a single party. Such an option removes from the voter the necessity of considering the issues and positions of individual candidates and while this option may work to the advantage of the parties, it does nothing to further the importance of voting. By this method the voter is reduced to the level of being nothing more than an automaton who assumes that all members of that party support the same positions.

And it is certainly true that even within the parties candidates do not all adhere to the same principles. During the primary debates, especially amongst the democrats, it was quite obvious that positions ranged from extreme left to pretty conservative, and everywhere between.

The result of the overwhelming influence of party is certainly exhibited within the Congress where party affiliation seems to matter far more than the relevance of any specific issue. One only has to look at the votes on virtually every bill to see the dichotomy that exists on the floor of the House and the Senate, based solely on party.

So maybe it’s time to do away with political parties altogether. They are probably as useless now as the Electoral College.

Instead of having candidates declare for a party, they should run on issues. Let them elucidate their positions on various issues and place all those running on the primary ballots without designation. The system would be somewhat cumbersome in the beginning, trying to cull the candidates down to a reasonable number for a general election, but during the primary season voters would have ample opportunity to examine individual candidates and their positions on a variety of issues.

There would still be liberal and conservative candidates and they might even be fiscally conservative and socially liberal, or vice versa.

But, in the end, those who win elections would not be beholden to the whims of a party and it might even result in a more congenial and reasonable atmosphere in the halls of Congress when the members there don’t have a party label attached.

There are obviously a good many details to be worked out to make such a new system work. It may be worth the effort.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.