The Challenge of Being Non-Partisan in Partisan Times

As we look forward to the upcoming election, Cornerstone Action is sharing our endorsements for candidates running for state office. And in this, the most partisan of times, our non-partisan organization has to face up to a difficult truth. It’s hard to be non-partisan in a state and country so sharply divided along party lines. In fact, we’re routinely accused of being firmly in the Republican camp. And, when our endorsements for this election cycle are revealed, many will no doubt use them as proof of a clear partisan bias. Before a rush to judgment, though, hear us out.

We are principled, not partisan.  Our beliefs and our stands are not filtered through or diluted by any political party platform. We are guided by a belief in God and a desire to promote religious freedom, families, and the precious gift of life for all of New Hampshire’s residents. If you read our commentary, you will find we are not afraid to challenge lawmakers in both parties when it comes to jealously protecting these principles.

We do our homework. Our criteria for scoring candidates and assessing those in office are very clear and not party-dependent. We send every candidate a comprehensive survey. We compile detailed statistics, so we can fairly and objectively measure candidates on our values and how they compare to one another. To get an idea of the work we put into assessing our current lawmakers, take a look at our 2018 Legislative Scorecard.

We want to engage. This year we sent candidate surveys to every candidate for executive council, state senator and state representative. In a clear example of the partisan times we live in, only 8% of our return responses came from Democrats. As a nation and a state, we know we are better and stronger when we work together. We at Cornerstone recognize the issues facing our state are multi-faceted and complex. We welcome the opportunity to talk with lawmakers in both parties, not only to share our position but to listen to theirs.

We understand there are some topics, notably abortion and the right to life, on which we can fully expect disagreement from Democrats. What is more surprising is that other issues such as women’s health and protection of our First Amendment rights have met with similar unified party-line voting from our Democrat state representatives. This is something we simply don’t see answered in kind on the part of Republicans who are rarely in lockstep. Here are a few examples we can cite:

  • Since 2014, 97% of New Hampshire House Democrats supported the “buffer zone” law designed to suppress peaceful First Amendment activity outside abortion facilities. It’s important to note the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Massachusetts buffer zone law in 2014 on the basis the law infringed on demonstrators’ First Amendment rights.  (HB 319, 2014; HB 1570, 2015; HB 589, 2016)
  • Despite repeated attempts to gather abortion statistics for public health purposes in New Hampshire (as is done in 47 other states), House Democrats blocked a NH statistics bill with 99% opposing the most recent effort.  (HB471, 2018)
  • A recent measure designed to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals (HB 1787, 2018) was opposed by 100% of our House Democrats who were present and voting.

There is no doubt we live in a divided, partisan state. If we are going to avoid the echo chamber of party-first politics, there must be a willingness to connect with and hear all voters.  Sadly, under our current Democrat Party dynamic, many voters are left without a voice in our state government. Our hope for the coming election is for more lawmakers to engage, listen, and vote as representatives, not party members. For our part, we will continue to engage independently on the issues.

We thank all the lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, who support our state and nation by standing up on the critical issues that face us today and will define us for generations to come.  As we prayerfully consider our endorsements in the upcoming election cycle, our hope is for a nation united, strong in its protection of religious freedom, law, and life.