Party Registration and a Question of Ethics

This post is about something personal to me, yet a topic that transcends personal feelings and plays a very real role in our political system.

My father has been elected to Jonestown Borough Council for the past six or so years. He was always very proud to be serving his community and worked very hard to make Jonestown a better place for everyone living in it. His pride in his position and work ethic to all his Council responsibilities is something I’ve always admired.My fathers political beliefs have always resided on the moderate side of the Democrat party, yet he is one of those voters who supports the candidate and his stance on issues over the party. Living in a very conservative and Republican town, it was amazing he was elected into the council at all as a registered Democrat.

So, you can see how both my family and my father was heartbroken when he lost the election on Nov 8th. It turns out that one woman seeking election into Borough Council changed her party from Democrat to Republican, hoping to gain more votes from those who vote along straight party lines. Well, it turns out her method worked, and she won just enough votes to gain the seat my father was hoping to secure. I’ll admit, at first I was outraged… Who was she to be an actual Democrat but change her registered party in order to get elected in a Republican borough? That seems really unfair, and she beat out a man who had dedicated the past 6 years to this town. However, now that I take a step back and have had more time to think about it, I wonder if this is just democracy working the way it is supposed to.

This is not a question of whether one should be allowed to changed their party (even if it’s for the sole purpose of getting elected), because our liberal democracy must allow for this type of political freedom. I guess it should be more of a question of ethics. Is it ethical to change your party right before you’re up for election in order to garner more votes than you would most likely get registered under your actual party? Also, is it politically responsible, as a voter, to just hit “straight Democrat” or “straight Republican” on your ticket, rather than wading through all the individual politicians up for election?

All in all, I understand her move as a strategic necessity to get elected into Council. Perhaps I should just be grateful that a Democrat (although not registered officially as one) won a seat at an otherwise Republican table. But I still feel that it was a bit unethical to change one’s party just for the sole purpose of obtaining more votes than another member registered Democrat… Fair or unfair, I still feel bad for my father.

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