• Reed Perkins

Policy: Removing Candidate Party Affiliation From Ballots

George Washington’s farewell address in 1796 included a warning about political parties. He talked about them being helpful for organizing people but ultimately they must be restrained or else they would lead to a, ”More formal and permanent despotism,”[1] Even up to the 1950s, political parties looked and behaved differently than they do now. At that time only 10% of voters had negative feelings towards the opposing party, but in 2018 that number was at 90%.[2]

Perhaps even more troubling is that 61% of people polled in 2016 said that neither party reflected their opinions.[3] If you look at just people aged 18-30, only 28% said the two major parties do a good job of representing the American people.[4] Speaking personally, I don’t know a single person who identifies as a Democrat who agrees with every single policy position from every single Democrat and the same goes for every Republican I know with Republican party positions.

It is impossible to fit all Americans neatly into two boxes and attempting to do so needlessly causes division where there could be unity. That isn’t to say grassroots organizing doesn’t have a place or isn’t useful, but we need a system that does a better job of allowing people to run as themselves and gives voters the opportunity to vote for candidates and ideas rather than parties.

I’ve already written about Ranked Choice Voting, a system that has been proven to help third party candidates gain a foothold while forcing candidates to argue for their own merits rather than relying on negative campaigning.[5] I’ve also endorsed Publicly Funded Elections, a system that would take the all important funds dispersal power away from centralized party authorities.[6] Both of these policies would help, but we also need to remove political affiliation from ballots.

There are already plenty of nonpartisan positions on Minnesota ballots like county commissioners and soil and water supervisor. This needs to apply to all elected positions. It will force candidates to have to argue for themselves and, at a bare minimum, force candidates out into the public eye to actually explain who they are and why they deserve your vote. Candidates coasting on the letter next to their name for votes is unacceptable behavior.

I fully understand that multiple policies I’m proposing would weaken the party structure that has supported me as I’ve sought office. I still believe they are the right thing to do for the health of our democracy. The current system is such that I must play by the rules now in order to help change them so that they benefit a broader cross section of America so that everyone has a greater ability to seek public office and that’s exactly what I’m fighting for.

[1] https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Washington%27s_Farewell_Address

[2] https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2018/10/30/get-rid-of-democrats-and-republicans-steve-almond

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/25/american-political-parties-democrats-republicans-representation-survey

[4] https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/poll-young-americans-say-parties-dont-represent

[5] https://www.perkinsformn1.com/post/policy-ranked-choice-voting

[6] https://www.perkinsformn1.com/post/policy-publicly-funded-elections

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Reed Perkins

I'm running for State Senate in Minnesota's 1st district because your voice deserves to be heard.

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