The 2018 election year is officially underway, though a lot of folks started campaigning months ago.

And in a few days, Congress and the Michigan Legislature will return from their extended holiday vacations.

This year has the potential of bringing out either the best or worst of our elected officials.

Politicians will have to decide whether the surest route to earning voter support is to conduct themselves as problem solvers, willing to do the hard work of reaching consensus on good policies that benefit those they represent, or to obstruct, undermine and stay firmly in their bunkers in hopes of denying the other side any chance to look competent.

Too often in recent years, our leaders have chosen the latter option, betting that assuring their opponents’ failure will guarantee their own success.

But that approach doesn’t serve the people well. And since the election season is now so extended, it leaves little time for actually working together to tackle the challenges facing our state and nation.

Since the politicians have decided that fostering gridlock is a winning strategy, the only ones who can disavow them of that notion are the voters.

Those of us who cast ballots should stop enabling the hard partisanship that has clogged the gears of the governing process and assured the only way any policy of significance gets adopted is on a straight party line vote.

As we size up the candidates this year, measure them for their commitment to collaborative policy making. Those who’ve demonstrated a history of placing party ahead of the people should get the boot.

Send enough politicians packing because of their allegiance to party above all else and maybe the rest will get the message that we’re damn tired of the self-service.

The truth is that Americans are sick of both Republicans and Democrats, and if a viable third choice were presented, they’d flock to it.

This is the year that all politicians should be put on notice that we expect them to serve our will, not that of their party leaders.

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