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Poplar Talks

Issues-driven or party-driven?

Zoe Haggard
Posted 8/13/22

To run with a party or not run with a party? The outcomes of this last county commission election were interesting. A handful of Republican victors will now be occupying the seats of Independents. …

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Poplar Talks

Issues-driven or party-driven?


To run with a party or not run with a party? The outcomes of this last county commission election were interesting. A handful of Republican victors will now be occupying the seats of Independents.  

It begs the question of why even run on a party ticket at a local level?  

Having talked with a few Independents and Republicans, answers were both similar and different.  

Many of the Independents think that partisan federal politics don’t have a place in local politics. Local politics are issue-driven, not party-driven. They also say they represent a wide variety of citizens and don’t want to feel they represent only a portion of them.  

Some of the Republicans will say partisan politics and the values of the platform are in every level of government—that they want voters to know who they are voting for.  

Looking at primary number, for the State Governor Election, Bedford saw 596 votes cast for the Democratic ticket, compared to the 3,217 votes cast for the Republican ticket. Numbers were similar for the U.S. House District 4.  

And as for Bedford candidates running on a Democratic platform, Register of Deeds Johnny Reed was the only candidate that qualified as a Democrat.  

But just because there’s an R or an I (or more rarely a D) by their name doesn’t mean they vote that way.  

Above all, local governments are in the interest of the people. They are, as one County Commissioner put it, appropriators of money.” Of your money, that is.  

It may be ever so slightly ironic that a Republican who stands on the platform of low-government interference and low taxes would vote for a higher property tax rate in order to fuel a government-influenced organization whose main purpose is to draw in industries that many citizens aren’t asking for. 

This unpredictable voting is like that everywhere, from the school board to the House of Representatives in Washington.  

This is coupled with the many voters who vote solely on the fact that there is an R or a D or an I by the candidate’s name. Forget who they are, that’s the party I agree with!  

It’s a safe bet, since platform values are aligning. And at least residents are out there voting. (The low voter turnout this election has been a concern for several local representatives. Only 15 percent of active Bedford voters voted in the Bedford County General Election.)  

But what if residents were as issue-driven as they were party-driven? That is, don’t vote for the candidate just because there’s an R or an I or a D by the name. Look at their history. Who they are. Read the announcements we put in the paper (both print and online).  

This is also where I go off into a rabbit hole about how uninformed voters should not vote. This is not the ACT; do not randomly fill in the bubbles beside a candidate’s name. Or do not base your vote on who had the prettiest yard sign.  

But to the point, just because a candidate aligns with a party doesn’t mean he or she will always vote that way. Or to put it in the words of one County Commissioner, “I don’t see the Republicans that are in there being very Republican.”  

These candidates are voting on the issues, so citizens, too, should vote on the issues. Or, conversely, what if a politician votes against his morals in order to appease a political party base?  

What’s interesting is how some commissioners, across the isles, did not like how the property tax hike was handled. They say there wasn’t enough transparency with taxpayers. There wasn’t enough debate and discussion. That all this felt “predestined.”  

Again, look at the issues not the party.  

It’s no wonder why President George Washington in his 1796 farewell address warned against the rising political parties of the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists.  

Political parties, he wrote, “are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government . . . .”  

Even though all this polarization appears that way across the nation, let’s hope voters get back to the issues.