by Jody Reese
Almost a decade ago,
Manchester switched from partisan to non-partisan elections. Now
candidates square off against each other in a general primary (held last
Tuesday) and the top two vote getters face off in the November general
politics, especially at the mayoral level, has taken a front seat in
this yearís election. More so, I think, than in previous elections.
Partisan politics is
bad for Manchester ó heck, itís bad for the whole country.
One of the things that
has made America a great country is our ability to be pragmatic, to find
a solution based on what will work, not based on some ideology.
For many years both the
Republican and Democratic parties agreed on many of the same issues.
Consensus was the goal and it was generally achieved. That all changed
with the cultural shifts of the 1960s and 1970s. Social issues that once
united America, now divided it. The parties no longer agreed that
government was a force for good. Democrats argued government should help
with poverty and education but should stay out of our lives in every
other way. Republicans argued government social and educational programs
should be reduced but that government regulation of personal behavior
The social issues
aside, here in Manchester we see ó even in our nonpartisan elections ó
Republicans and Democrats lining up against each other, pushing the
Almost every day I get
e-mails from the city Democratic or Republican parties attacking each
otherís candidates. Mayor Robert Baines is the Democrat and Ward Three
Aldermen Frank Guinta is a Republican. The money each of them have
raised comes largely from partisan supporters, in many cases from
outside the city. What possible motive could these out-of-town campaign
contributors have for giving money to a non-partisan Manchester
candidate? Iím guessing it;s something partisan.
The problem with that
is that it makes it harder for our city government to function in the
best interest of its citizens. Now, aldermen, school board members and
mayors are beholden to party interests, party politics and, of course,
Whatís good for
Manchester takes a back seat.
Unfortunately, I donít
see an easy solution to this growing problem. There is little we can do
to stop money from pouring in from the state and national parties. The
first-in-the-nation primary encourages more party involvement, not less.
To combat this, we
voters must make it clear to elected officials that our concerns should
come first, not those of the party machine.