The Good, The Bad, and the Non-Partisan

Originally published on Third Party Watch on Saturday October 14, 2023

Earlier in the week I was sitting here at my desk, working on some code, when there was suddenly a knock on the door.  No, it wasn’t Santa Claus, it was something better.

I went over the door and asked who it was. The response came back: “this is Mike Gastin and I’m running for city council”.  I immediately asked him to hang on a minute while I found a shirt. A minute or so later, I opened the door, and no, it was not Mormons pretending to be running for city Council to try to hand me pamphlets, it was an actual candidate!

He introduced himself, and we talked for a bit. We actually ended up talking for 20 or 30 minutes, and I am amazed that he talked to me at all since I realized after he left that I am a month overdue for a haircut and I don’t believe I’ve shaved since August. 

He told me a little bit about himself, and why he is running, and I asked him some questions – geared to determine if he really was a non-politician as he claimed.  Charleston has too many career politicians at the local level, so it was refreshing to find out that he was sincere.

We talked a bit more about the issues facing our district, and I even asked him to say one good and one bad thing about all of his opponents and about the candidates for Mayor.  He was able to identify good and bad things about each of the candidates, which told me that he would be able to work with a mayor that did not necessarily agree with everything he thought should be done.

At one point he mentioned that someone had put me on his list as someone he needed to talk to, which explains why he was knocking on my door on a Wednesday morning at 10 or 11 o’clock, when most people are not home. The person who put me on his list knew I would be home.

I was extremely pleased with his knowledge of the critical issues, and after he left, I also did a little research into his résumé. He is certainly not running to get a paycheck. I can’t imagine that he would be doing it to try to start a “political career”.

So a local citizen, running for office to try to get a job done. I don’t want to make this sound satirical, but it is almost out of a Jimmy Stewart movie.  The question of course is whether he can win over a two term incumbent that I only hear from when he tries to say hello as I walk into the polling place every four years.  Constituent services? Not in most city council member’s vocabulary.  But I believe it might be in Mr. Gastin’s.

I was impressed enough that I actually decided that I am going to vote this November, and I told him that I would spread the word that I had actually met somebody who could answer my questions – and for those of you that don’t know me, most politicians run for the hills when I start asking questions.

Now we get to the interesting part: it is a non-partisan race. I did not ask him his party affiliation, and when he thought I was going to ask him he immediately interjected that he wasn’t going to say – that it is a non-partisan race and party labels are not discussed.

So, who do I tell? We all know the truth about local politics. Even though it is non-partisan, people in the back rooms of the Republican party, and the Democratic party know who the candidates are.  The Greens would as well.  I have been out of the libertarian party for over three years now, so I tried to look up who to contact locally.

It would be easier to find a Maytag repair man in Alaska.

Eventually, I called someone in another part of the state, and was told he believed that the Mises caucus had taken over the local county party, and that all they cared about was mises minutia and trying to figure out how to vote for Trump or RFK Jr.

I have no idea if that is true, but that is what my friend thinks is going on. But this is a non-partisan election, as many are. My friend and I talked about a couple of other non-partisan races he knows of in Georgia that he is hoping will succeed.

The mayoral race is non-partisan here in Charleston, as is city Council.  So there really isn’t anything a minor party could do, other than spread the word that there is at least one candidate worth considering.

I am certainly not saying that there are no other candidates to consider, but when I see people running, some with the same last name as their parent that held the seat, I have little doubt that they are just trying to extend political dynasties.

And what would a minor party do anyway? Well, they can influence elections.  In Charleston county, the sum total of the minor party votes is frequently greater than the difference between the two other party candidates.  In other words, support from minor parties and independents is still important.

Of course, most minor parties are going to be even more stringent with verifying that a non-partisan candidate passes a purity test before even considering support. That is why they are failing. Rather than find someone you can agree with on three out of five issues, they will only support someone that agrees with them on five out of five. It doesn’t matter what the five are. If they disagree, forget it.

The end result is that most non-partisan candidates get treated exactly like Eli Wallach in the final scene of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  In the end, they are left with their hands and feet tied, standing on a rock under a tree, with a noose around their neck. The question is, will the good guy shoot the rope before he rides away?

I would prefer to shoot the rope. If you know anyone that is in Charleston SC, please pass along the name of this candidate: Mike Gastin.  His website is and I am sure he would be willing to answer their questions.  He is running on November 7th for District 9 in West Ashley.


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