Some newspaper editorial pages have stopped endorsing candidates in elections. Endorsements don’t really influence many voters, it is reasoned, and they just make people angry, candidates and voters alike. Some people resent the idea of some lofty institution “telling them how to vote.” Endorsements sometimes seem more trouble than they are worth.
But that is an abdication of responsibility. Editorial pages express opinions every day, regardless of what others think and no matter whose feelings might get hurt. If they stop expressing opinions about the one thing that should matter most to citizens – which political leaders might control their lives – how do they justify their existence?
So, beginning Monday, we will announce our endorsements for the spring primary, ready or not.
I used to downplay the whole “endorsement” concept. “We prefer to call them ‘recommendations,’ to more clearly describe the intent of the editorials,” I wrote one year. “We aren’t trying to tell you how to vote by issuing learned pronouncements from the Ivory Tower. We’re just telling you, after studying the issues and talking to the candidates, our honest opinions of the election.”
But of course we’re trying to tell you how to vote. So are a lot of other people. It’s your job to sort through all those opinions and decide which ones, if any, deserve to be taken seriously. In the end, it’s your opinion that counts, so you should get information from as many sources as you can in reaching it.
It’s a little harder lately to sort through the opinions because there are so many of them. The digital revolution has given everyone the ability to quickly and widely distribute their great thoughts. The “from many voices, truth” envisioned by the First Amendment is here.
We’d like to think our opinion matters a little more than others you might hear. We immerse ourselves in politics all year long, not just at primary time, so we know the candidates and the issues a little better than most.
When you go into the voting booth on May 6, you won’t be deciding who will be running government for the next four years. But you will be choosing the candidates who will face off against each other in the fall. The better the candidates you choose in May, the better the race will be in November, and the better chance we all have of having a sane government.
Vote like your life depended on it, because it does. Government is getting bigger, costlier and more intrusive all the time. If you take only one piece of advice from us, please make it that one.