In America the Constitution guarantees every citizen free speech. That includes Valley Sun columnist Anita Brenner’s “Folks, It‘s a Non-Partisan Election” column published Feb. 3, regarding her apparent frustration that the local Republicans endorsed three candidates for City Council.
The same freedom of speech that allows Ms. Brenner to criticize us restricts a government from interfering with our endorsing as we choose. Free speech in the form of a candidate endorsement is protected. While California’s Constitution was amended in 1986 requiring “non-partisan” local elections, the California Supreme Court objected, striking the endorsement ban in 1996, according to Eric McGhee, a research fellow and political analyst for the nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California. Not allowing the parties and central committees to endorse was “a violation of freedom of speech,” McGhee said.
“Non-partisan” does not mean that candidates have neither personal nor governmental principles that will guide decisions if elected. Every candidate has principles, whether sound or unsound, informed or uninformed, moral or immoral, realistic or bizarre. Each voter has the obligation to develop background knowledge of candidates prior to casting a vote. And, yes, party affiliation can provide indication of a candidate’s probable behavior in office. Would the voters be better served voting in ignorance (perhaps for the ignorant)? Does information conveyed to a voter by a political party somehow taint factual, verifiable information?