Time To Remove Parties From Voting

We make our primary election choices Saturday. But the political system is failing because of our stubborn insistence on by-the-party voting.

Political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution. The writers felt they would be too divisive.

They are. Each out-ofoffice party feels it has to savage the party in office — even if the latter is doing a good job.

Our primaries would be more attractive if we let people vote on a single ballot of all office seekers. The top two vote getters in each race, regardless of party, would face off in the general. We might get two Democrats or two Republicans or one of each.

Also, we have a host of bright people out there but only a few run. I remember the late Cec Heftel telling me what a bunch of dimwits occupied the U.S. House of Representatives — politicians from small places who did not understand much of the legislation or even read it before they voted on it.

We have some bright lights in our Legislature but many dim bulbs. I get mad because politicians are always more focused on re-election than grand vision. They poll and try to split the difference between what some want and others don’t, and hope to get half of each.

I yearn for leaders like Jim Madison, Tom Jefferson and John Adams, who set their eyes on the future and went for it. They didn’t have Ward Research telling them how Kapa‘a or Kahului might vote. They understood persuasion. That’s lacking today.

Are our elections any meaner today with the influx of those 501(c)(4) and corporate monies? Not that I can detect. Even Honolulu’s heated mayor’s race hasn’t gotten as nasty as the hyper-personal Hannemann-Bainum contest in 2004.

But TV ads by third parties who do not have to identify money donors appear to contain increasing amounts of false or misleading material, and the stations that sell that ad time are unwilling to be fact checkers.

I’d hope we get a new 501(c)(4) law that requires disclosing the names of donors. Then we’d at least know who to scorn when lies or misinformation are detected. • Here’s an extraneous tidbit to round off this column. Our real first president wasn’t George Washington. It was John Hanson, elected in 1771 by vote of Congress. He found the work boring and too contentious, and resigned after one year.

President No. 2 was Thomas McKean, an anti-war Quaker. He resigned after only four months in office.

I’d probably resign, too, if I held some political office. Not that it would be too boring. Too damn contentious. And then those full-of-lies political ads.