Hippo Manchester
September 22, 2005

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Publisher's Note: Party politics
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 election.

Unfortunately, partisan 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 should remain.

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 party line.

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, party ideologies.

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.