Derby citizens likely noticed a refreshing change on the ballot when they voted last month: there were no political affiliations, you voted for the person, not the party.

It’s the great thing about local governance. People running for office are concerned about representing their constituents, not some party agenda, which is usually dominated by zealous insiders.

How about extending that up the ladder of power, to the state or even national level? It would turn the whole world of politics upside down on its head: we could vote for the content of someone’s character and their views and not blindly follow a national organization.

It would be refreshing for the candidates, too.

The standard procedure is that someone running for president has to tack to the extreme of their party and then, if they win the nomination, dash back to the middle in order to gain the necessary votes of centralist voters.

It makes them appear wishy washy and, for many, they have to be someone they’re not.

The first primary election of 2020 is not even here and a lot of people are already sick of the process we’re stuck with. Much of it has to do with the extreme partisan nature of today’s politics.

It used to be people could agree to disagree and have a reasonable, good-natured conversation of current political topics. Folks “on the other side” were fine. They just have a different viewpoint.

Today, fuhgettaboutit! For political extremists, those who disagree with them are the devil incarnate.

A recent study in Political Psychology drove that point home. It found that “hostility toward the opposing party has eclipsed positive affect for one’s own party as a motive for political participation.”

It’s not a positive way to get things done, and recent years have demonstrated that.

One of my favorite websites is debate.org, which features both sides of controversial topics.

A recent posting on whether political parties should be banned got an overwhelming yes. Among the pro opinions is that it’s nothing but chaos. Running as an individual “allows for a more efficient republic and democracy,” and political parties do nothing but divide people.

Opposing arguments include the point that politics would be dominated by the rich, that candidates could “use the advice they may get from fellow party members,” and having political parties is a constitutional right that cannot be taken away.

And face it, not every voter has the energy to check out the viewpoints of each candidate, even if they should. For some, an automatic check next to a D or R or other party makes their life as a voter easier.

That’s a lazy excuse, but true.

Of course, if parties are banned, then there has to be leverage so that campaigns are not dominated by the wealthy. While I’m not a fan of more government spending, it would be impossible to pull off fair elections without some sort of public financing of campaigns – and limits on spending, which would certainly be a plus along with a shorter national campaign calendar.

Opponents would also argue that non-partisan local governing bodies don’t have to tackle hot-button social issues, such as guns, abortion, immigration, gay marriage and the like.

That’s correct, but I hardly notice much movement, if any, on the national level with these. In these cases, let’s do what the ancient Greeks did and put the issue directly to the people for them to vote on in true democratic style.

In addition, it’s not like nonpartisan bodies at a non-local level are unknown.

To our north, the Nebraska Legislature is officially unicameral and nonpartisan, making it one of a kind. And unlike Kansas Legislature’s circus during the past decade, you don’t hear negative comments about it.

Eliminating political parties and getting back to people running for office on their own merits sounds like an intriguing concept with a lot of potential. We should put it to a vote – just don’t let the political parties get involved. Somehow I have a feeling that with their loss of money and power, they’re not going to like it.

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