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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outside View: More candidates should buck party line

This editorial from the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin does not necessarily reflect the view of The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant made a bold move this week when his campaign announced he was not supporting his party’s nominee for president, Donald Trump. Nor will he support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Bryant’s stand probably won’t help him among staunch Republicans, but he decided to do it anyway. More folks seeking public office should break from the party if they find, out of principle, they can’t support another candidate.

Bryant spokesman Jason Roe said Bryant decided to take the position when visiting Lewis County over the weekend because he disagrees with Trump’s criticism of the Muslim parents of an American soldier killed in action. He was thinking about relatives who have been active in the MIA/POW movement, Roe said.

There is nothing wrong with a candidate showing reasoned independence from his or her party. Independent thinking is worth valuing, especially in today’s political environment.

It wasn’t but four or five decades ago when voting machines in Washington state had a master lever that allowed citizens to cast their ballots for every candidate of a single party with a pull of the lever.

Voting the straight party line with one lever is no longer available. Nor should it return.

It’s best that voters look at all candidates on the ballot and, regardless of their party label, make their choices based on who they believe would be best for the position.

Shouldn’t we expect the same of our elected officials? They should not be so blinded by party loyalty they don’t look at what others on the ticket say and do.

Given that neither Trump nor Clinton are particularly popular with voters in most polls, candidates for Congress and statewide offices should share their views on those candidates. How they view this contest could offer some insight into their thinking.

Frankly, the insistence that Republicans and Democrats – whether candidates or supporters – toe the party line in all circumstances has driven a lot of thoughtful people out of the political process. As a result, moderates too often feel as if their views are not represented by anyone.

We are not yet ready to endorse Bryant in his bid to be governor, but we applaud his decision to do what he felt was right in taking a stand that’s going to be controversial within his party.

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