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Local View: Scrap the parties; they gave us Hillary, Donald

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Is it time for political parties — Democrat, Republican, and others — to end? Has partisanship outlived its usefulness?

Tom WheelerThink about it: What purposes within a supposedly functioning democracy are political parties intended to serve? Rather than serving voters — "we the people" — political parties, it seems, have become self-serving in apparent attempts to manipulate and sway public opinion toward partisan ends.

And don't forget: Follow the money!

Some years ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek op-ed about creating a "We the People Party." Polls at the time showed that independent voters (42 percent) outnumbered both Republicans (27 percent) and Democrats (29 percent), yet had no formal recognition.

In fact, independent voters are discriminated against. Caucuses, primaries, and party platforms too often leave little to no room for independents to register their opinions. They are shut out — other than at the voting booth. As part of 42 percent of the voting population, the independent voter, one would think, would command more respect.

A true confession: in the 2016 presidential election, I wrote in "None of the Above." I could not in good conscience vote for either the Democrat's nominee Hillary Clinton nor the Republican's Donald Trump. I am not advocating not voting, but I seriously think "none of the above," if presented as a voting option, would have defeated either of those two major-party candidates.

How about, from now on, "none of the above" is an option on all ballots? And if it wins, a new election with more viable candidates is held?

This is my endorsement: viable choices — not what we are sent by the politicos and partisans who revel in running the show.

Voters claiming to be independent are sorely served by our present voting system. Political parties are too entrenched. Perhaps the upcoming Minnesota primary on Aug. 14 can lead to more grassroots input and representation.

We the people, we the voters, need to bone up on the issues, on the candidates, and then vote our collective, but independent, consciences — not necessarily the ways political parties, mass media, and friends and relatives tell us to vote. We have no more precious freedom than to vote.

Do cherish and exercise that right. Do so by using your God-given brain. Be a proud and responsible independent voter. Do not be manipulated by partisan politics.

This endorsement editorial was determined entirely by the Duluth News Tribune Editorial Board. The members of the board are listed daily atop the Opinion page.

Tom Wheeler was a longtime Duluth-area businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist. Retired, he splits his time between Duluth and Tucson, Ariz., and is a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.