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Breaking partisanship

Posted: September 18, 2012 4:53 p.m.
Updated: September 19, 2012 5:00 a.m.

As President Obama and Mitt Romney batter each other and each other’s parties ad nauseum, voters in Kershaw County and across the country continue to be subjected to the same bitter partisanship that keeps Congress and the White House from getting much achieved.  In fact, we were struck by another newspaper’s recent focus on a book entitled “The Parties Versus The People,” by former U.S. Rep. Mickey Edwards, a Republican of Oklahoma. “We have to reclaim our democracy, not from an invading army but from the parasitic destruction waged in the name of partisan interest,” Edwards wrote.

We’ll follow the lead of that other paper in printing the changes proposed by Edwards:

• Take away the right of the parties to control access to the ballot.

• Take away the parties’ control over redistricting.

• Reduce spending and increase competition in political campaigns.

• Establish a nonpartisan congressional leadership.

• Establish nonpartisan congressional committees.

• Change congressional rules to restore democracy.

• Eliminate the trappings of partisanship.

• Establish longer workweeks and more interaction within Congress.

• Eliminate one-party White House strategy sessions.

• Sign no pledges and stand up to bullies.

The other newspaper noted Edwards’ argument that open primaries -- anyone can vote in either party’s primary --- would go far in breaking down the partisan gridlock that grips Washington. He says, “When all of a state’s voters, rather than merely its activists, have a voice in determining results of the election process, there is a far greater chance that the winners will be candidates who are more willing to accept compromise as a necessary ingredient of government.”

South Carolina, to its credit, doesn’t require people to register by party. That’s a good thing, and voters can “cross parties” to take part in primaries. But most states do, and voters there would do well to subject themselves to a wider choice than their own party’s candidates. Unfortunately, “The Parties Versus The People” will be tossed aside by most politicians in Washington who regularly hew to their party’s line. If only they would change, perhaps they might get more things accomplished.

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