Paul, you’re on the money as far as the unintended (I’ll be charitable) result of the non-partisan judicial races. It’s plain from the response to the election generally that one party believes that 52% of the electorate are idiots, and therefore unsafe to manage their own affairs. The opinion is nothing new, of course, just more public the past few weeks.
The News & Observer is actually correct in calling for a court where “impartiality is the rule and personal and party causes must be deferred to what the state constitution and laws demand.” However, the fact is that the state really shouldn’t want judicial candidates who are blank slates and faceless ciphers. If we are to have judges who possess judgement, then we will have real men and real women who have opinions, principles, and philosophies that guide their evaluation of each case presented. And recent history demonstrates which school of thought, conservative or liberal, lends the biggest thumb to the scales of justice, and which is most careful to judge on principle rather than party.
Frankly, the idea of “non-partisan” judicial elections is the old pig-in-a-poke scam, but in reverse. Whereas the fraudulent “pig” is discovered when the wrappings are removed, the prophets of non-partisanship are proposing that the voter discover the truth only when the robes are put on.