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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

COMMENTARY

Monarchy vs. competition

BY KEITH C. BURRIS
COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE

I had an opportunity this week to sit down with the new Lucas County Democratic chairman, Councilman Steve Steel. He confirmed what I already thought. He’s an interesting and good guy.

Mr. Steel wants to involve young people in the party. We also talked about low voter turnout. He said one answer is putting better choices before voters.

Choice. Competition.

That’s what democracy in America is about.

So good for Mr. Steel for endorsing liberty. I just wish he would embrace the reality. For one of Mr. Steel’s first acts as chairman is to try to remove former Mayor Jack Ford from the November ballot as an independent candidate for state senator.

Mr. Ford has been officially certified as a candidate, and he collected three times the number of signatures he needed to get on the ballot. But Democrats fear that, in a three-person race, they would “lose” the seat.

Wait, is this a monarchy? Does the seat “belong” to one party?

The incumbent, Sen. Edna Brown, said the other day, that, in effect, it does. She said that this is a Democratic region, and it would be a “disgrace” if Democrats did not retain the seat.

Republicans apparently don’t count at all. And political choice is not allowed in Lucas County.

We fought a revolutionary war over this.

We tried the voting rights cases of the 1950s and ’60s over this.

The Democrats say Mr. Ford should be knocked off the ballot because he voted in the Democratic primary. You cannot be an independent, they say, and vote in a party primary. That would be news to many voters. I say, if the Democrats want to beat Mr. Ford, they should do it on the playing field, not this way.

Ms. Brown should contest Mr. Ford’s ideas with her own and make the case that she would make the better senator.

Compete.

That’s the way it’s done in a free society.

At least Mr. Ford has ideas. Many. You may not like them. Maybe not all are operable. But, he puts something on the table.

Imagine trying to beat LeBron James by disqualifying him. That’s anti-competitive. And cowardly.

Mr. Ford is clearly a true independent. He ran for council last year under that label. But the real proof is that some Democrats are so afraid of him they would deny themselves the chance to vote against him.

But I don’t think Mr. Ford is the real point here.

I think voters are.

Voters do not need to be protected from choice. They need more choice.

I am not a lawyer, but I am told by a good one that the statutory “rule” in election law is that the elections machinery should err on the side of choice and competition. I hope that rule is applied here.

How do we get better politics? Ideas. Choice.

No choice in business leads to monopoly. No choice in politics leads to abuse of power. Play the game on the field. Compete and let the voters decide.

Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.



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