Creating a false dichotomy

City Council has decided that Asheville needs partisan elections, since we voters are too dumb to know the differences between our candidates without them. This line of reasoning follows the disingenuous, disgraceful and illogical demagogy dividing this country today.

The primary fallacy is that of a false dichotomy. Since coming up with 2,000-plus signatures is a far harder process than merely describing yourself as one of the two big-tent parties, it would seem obvious that most candidates would choose to align themselves with either the Democrats or Republicans. But how many people totally ascribe themselves to their party’s philosophies? Yet somehow, by merely stating that the candidate belongs to a certain party, we voters are now supposed to feel clearer about that candidate’s positions?

Ironically, Chris Pelly wrote that “Candidates running as Republicans would probably have to be more centrist to win in Asheville” [“It’s My Party: Partisan Elections Promote Full Disclosure,” Commentary, June 27]. Well, how would we voters know how “centrist” their positions were, unless publications like the Mountain Xpress (and the efforts of our local Libertarians, who did a great job of compiling the candidates’ views last election) were showing us—in the candidates own words—exactly how they felt about relevant, local issues.

Technically, the Libertarian Party no longer exists in North Carolina, as far as elections are concerned. Why? Because Democrats and Republicans decided that other parties needed a ludicrous number of signatures to be [added to] the ballot. Clearly, requiring signatures can be a serious threshold to overcome, and what great good has this gained us voters? Less choice?

Pelly reminded us that since no third-party candidate has won any of the last six nonpartisan elections, things couldn’t get worse. Defeatism is not reasoning, but rather the excuse of the pathetic. This legislation only increases the chances that no such candidate will get elected in the future.

So, let’s re-cap: Our leaders have decided that there are only two parties. Each party contains people who think exactly alike on every issue, which is why we need to divide our candidates into those parties so we’ll really know whom we are voting for. This is designed to educate voters on what our candidates truly stand for.

Something is clearly wrong here.

We’ve already created public forums for our candidates to distinguish themselves and their views. This legislation is telling us that either those forums are not enough, or we’re simply too stupid to understand them. Since no politician would dare imply the latter, let’s assume the former. How in the (expletives deleted) are we supposed to think that forcing labels on people—and only two viable labels at that—will help voters better understand the details of a candidate’s positions? If anything, this is a drastic step backwards, as it only clouds our ability to perceive the intricate differences that characterize local elections.

Pelly also reminds us that we have the option to vote out those who make such decisions for us. How about reminding us that we can stop such legislation dead in its tracks by putting our signature to paper in voter-led initiatives, instead of simply waiting for the next election. That’s real democracy—not the idle representative democracy some would imply paralyzes us. Let’s show them that we know how to pay attention, and that we’re worthy of the democracy our patriots died for.

— Rob Close


Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.