Opinion | Bruce Butler: Which side are you on this election?
This week the Nov. 8 election will begin in earnest, as ballots should arrive in the U.S. mail and Summit County voters will begin to record their votes. As I have written several times before, I respect the courage it takes for candidates to place their name on the ballot and to face the judgment of the voters. It is a great honor to serve and at the same time often a thankless job.
On the county level: commissioner, clerk and recorder, treasurer, assessor, sheriff, coroner and surveyor, I continue to believe elections should be nonpartisan, as is the case with home rule town elections. Local-level partisan elections create unnecessary division. I encourage voters to think outside of partisan silos, and vote for the person you believe will do the best job in the local Summit County government races. In local county elections, personal qualifications should trump party affiliation.
On the state and federal level, for better or worse, we have a two-party system. Yes, there are third parties and candidates on the ballot, but the most they can do is play spoiler to the Democratic or Republican party candidates. When you vote for state and federal house of representatives and senate candidates, you are voting for more than just a representative or a senator. You are also voting for speaker, majority leader, committee chairman and control of the legislative process. Similarly, with governor, just like the presidency, you are voting for like-minded political appointees and the for the political agenda and culture of the executive branch. To put it simply, party trumps person in state and federal elections.
People choose party affiliations for many reasons: core beliefs, family legacy, union affiliation, peer pressure, etc. In Colorado, the open primary system confers the right to vote in party primary elections to unaffiliated voters, which theoretically favors more centrist candidates, but it really undermines the political parties and shifts more influence toward anonymous dark money groups. Both sides have their committed party activists and special interests, but if you are one of the coveted unaffiliated, or “independent” voters, who generally dislikes politics and views elections as a civic chore instead of a patriotic passion, I have devised a 15-item quiz that can help you determine whether to support Democratic or Republican candidates for state and federal office.
Answer “yes” or “no” to the following statements:
- Government is better equipped to resolve economic disparities than the private market.
- Corporations should pay more tax.
- The Chinese government is a friend and ally of the United States.
- Supreme Court justices should interpret the U.S. Constitution to better reflect modern culture.
- There would be less crime if the Second Amendment right to bear arms was repealed.
- Military spending should be reduced.
- The U.S. military should only be engaged when there is a direct threat to U.S. citizens and territory.
- “Catch and release” and no bail policies are an effective way to reform the criminal justice system.
- Homeless people have a right to camp on public property.
- The southern border is secure.
- More illicit drugs should be legalized.
- Public funds should be used to pay for abortions.
- National debt is not a serious problem.
- U.S. education and schools are among the best in the world.
- Switching exclusively to alternative energy sources will have minimal or no impact on electrical grid reliability or the cost of household energy.
If you answered yes to all 15 statements, you are a hard-core Democratic base voter. Vote straight Democrat. If you answered no to all 15 statements, you are a hard-core Republican base voter. Vote straight Republican. If you answered yes on 10-14 of the statements, you lean solidly Democrat. If you answered no on 10-14 of the statements, you lean solidly Republican. If you are 9-6 either way, you lean slightly Democrat or Republican, but have minimal party allegiance. If you answered yes on 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12 and “no” on the remainder, you trend libertarian. If you are 8-7 either way, you are intellectually inconsistent and most likely vote emotionally. I hope this exercise was helpful as you cast your votes.
Bruce Butler's column "Common Sense Conversations" publishes biweekly on Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Butler is a former mayor and council member in Silverthorne, where he has lived for 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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