If you don't like the theme, don't come to the party

As usual in Bellevue – because nobody does drama like Bellevue does drama – the primary election campaigns have turned into something like…well, like the 2016 presidential campaigns. We at The Citizen are going to do what we have always done – give everyone involved a chance to speak and be heard, and let the voters sort it out. But there is one issue that troubles me personally, and I have written about it in the past – Candidates who run for the nomination of a political party they don’t even believe in.

For me, this comes down to a matter of personal integrity and trust. If I can’t trust a candidate to be honest about what he really believes, what can I trust about him?

For many people, registering to vote with a particular political party is akin to committing to a particular religion. If we got to vote for who became the leader of a church, many people would be pretty upset if, say, a lifelong Jewish rabbi suddenly declared himself a candidate for Pope of the Catholic Church, and vice versa, all the while maintaining views and beliefs that are contrary to the dogma of the church each is trying to lead.

We have the most incredible opportunity in this country to hear views from all perspectives, and if we are very, very smart, we try our best to understand them. But if we decide that a particular view is not compatible with our personal beliefs, then we shouldn’t try to trick people into thinking we subscribe to that view. I don’t know if candidates who pretend to be Democrats – or Republicans or Libertarians or anything else – are ashamed of who they really are, or if they just truly believe that the ends justify the means when it comes to getting elected. Both scenarios disturb me.

Sometimes candidates have personal beliefs that fall into line with various party platforms. That’s okay. We call those people “moderates.” But candidates who profess to represent the ideals of a particular party and then proceed to trash that party constantly – well, we call those people liars.

There are some who would argue that party has no place in local politics. They would be dead wrong. By presenting yourself as a member of a political party, you are telling me how you view the world, what your priorities are, and whether you are someone who will reflect my values. What does not belong in politics – at any level – is hyper-partisanship that prevents elected officials from working out compromises in an effort to move forward.