[MissoulaGov] LGSC

Bob Oaks bob.oaks at gmail.com
Sun Oct 29 16:44:31 MST 2006

Response to Geoff Badenoch's LGSC remarks:

One of the things Study Commissioners learned from government professor, Jim
Svara, was that, nationwide, when communities move from partisan to
non-partisan elections, Democrats lose, on average, a 22 percent share of
the vote. Did the last Commission learn that, as well? If so, did the
Commission share with voters the possibility that a change from partisan to
non-partisan could have partisan consequences, in and of itself?

As Geoff should remember from moderating our LGSC presentation at the City
Club, I made it a point to let folks know that we could not prove causality
in terms of the drop in voter turn out ten years ago. It must be noted,
however, that I also pointed out that there was a downward
plateau-swing after the turn to non-partisan elections, rather than
the general multi-year decline, Geoff describes. It would be impossible to
argue, however, that the change to non-partisan generated a groundswell of
voter turn out. So what did we get? Better leadership? Better government?

I also mentioned that I wasn't sure what voters expected ten years ago but I
strongly believe it is justifiable to offer them the opportunity to voice
whether they got what they wanted. The voters may, once again,
overwhelmingly endorse non-partisanship. I don't see any danger in offering
them the choice. I honestly don't think they will be gulled into harnessing
themselves to a "political committee of faceless power brokers." My
goodness. Is that the way it was a decade ago?

The Commission does not encourage voters to fail to learn about candidates
and default to candidate selection on the basis of their party membership,
on the contrary, we hope that defining party affiliation for the voters, to
whatever main, or third party, will cause candidates to more honestly
represent themselves -- including possibilities of running as Independents.
Some recent candidates have been exceedingly adept in, as Geoff
says, shaping "negative messages ... about...candidates in an effort to woo
(or dupe) voters to get their votes" -- to wit, conjuring New Party
boogeymen or powerful progressive special interest elites. "Well of course
I'm running as a nonpartisan, but I'll tell you one thing...I'm *not*, by
golly, one of those [insert the group you think your listener might dislike
the most]."

I'm as big a fan of truth, justice and the American way as Geoff, but to
believe that non-partisanship transcends "the world of truth shaping, fact
spinning, rumor mongering and posturing," is simply naive and certainly runs
contrary to my recent experience on the embattled LGSC. I don't believe the
Commission has offered "weak evidence" or "uninspired arguments" and that's
the truth.

Bob Oaks
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