From the very beginning of this nation it rested on, or at least for male citizens, an educated citizenry. The first settlers in Massachusetts set up a free public education so that the people could read the Bible. You may disagree with the reason but the education also led to robust discussion on other issues.

The founding fathers were just as adamant about education, albeit for males, but again education was important. Read some of the letters between the founding fathers and their wives or their exchanges between them and it becomes evident without reading too far that education was important. Read The Federalist Papers or letters among the early populace, to reinforce the notion that an educated citizenry was a vital part of this country’s move toward a democratic republic.

As time passed, much to the chagrin of the Founding Fathers, political parties began to develop. Even the issue of the ratification of the Constitution created a quasi-political party system of Federalists and anti-Federalists. The arguments for and against the ratification were made both orally and in writing through the use of pamphlets and newspapers. People were willing to listen to long debates over the issues or were willing to read the arguments that were in print. This continued in our government until modern times.

We have come to the point where we the people are willing to say that we belong to a particular party by name: often without knowing what the party stands for or against. If one wonders about that, ask your neighbor why he belongs to a particular party. Quiz that neighbor what that party believes; what is its platform. I would venture to say that most people cannot tell you the basic platform of the party and how the particular candidate intends to enact the platform.

The epitome of not making us citizens knowledgeable is the “single-box” ballot. By checking one box on the written ballot, one can vote for everyone claiming to belong to that party. One does not need to know anything about for what a particular candidate stands. It is assumed by the voter that the candidate believes as the voter does. This one check mark has generally held true in our elections except for some local elections such as for mayor or school boards.

Recently, Mr. Terry Harper proposed that it is time to end partisan ballots in local elections in the Seguin Gazette. He argued that by ending partisan elections, local authorities would cease to “have their constituents and neighbors pay for their spending habits and addictions.” By not having partisan elections, I maintain that the citizens of the local elections will become more knowledgeable about the issues, especially those pertaining to taxes, than if they are able to check one box and vote in a “party member.”

Not having the “one-box” vote makes the voter attempt to find out more about the candidate or vote very unwisely. Voting unwisely will be assured if we have partisan elections. Having “one –box” is bad enough but having it and partisan candidates makes for bad elections. If we believe that an educated citizenry is necessary for the welfare of our democratic republic, the more we need to become aware of for what candidates stand and their proposed ways of implementing their ideas. Let us vote for the candidate because of his or her platform, not because he or she is a member of a particular party. Our county will be better for it. Government will work for the governed, not the party. If you are not sure, merely read what is going on at the state and federal levels. At least, at the local level, we are forced to find out platforms.

Jack Linden is a former columnist for the Seguin Gazette who periodically contributes guest columns.

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