Editorial: Why do we make endorsements?

November election

November election

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As Election Day arrives, it’s always worth reconsidering and reiterating the reasons we endorse candidates for elected office.

Let’s face it, it reliably manages to polarize some readers, and can even miff candidates who win regardless of what we have to say.

Long before “fake news” became a catchphrase, many readers were befuddled by supposedly nonpartisan news agencies suddenly taking sides on which candidates are worthy of office, from town clerk to U.S. president.

We confess guilt to sometimes neglecting to reinforce concepts we strive to follow every day. The process of endorsing candidates is perhaps the perfect illustration of the virtual wall in our newsrooms.

Journalists who cover the news in our communities have no say in any of our editorials. They might sit in on an endorsement interview with a candidate, but only for informational purposes. Similarly, editorial page editors are not involved in the news-gathering process.

In addition to the interviews, members of the editorial board will consider news coverage, attend and sometimes moderate public debates and consider thoughtful social media observations (they do exist) from citizens. We release our endorsements with the consent of our group publisher and editor.

Our astute readers are likely noticing right now that this explains “how” we do endorsements. That is just process. The “why” involves matters of principle.

We use this space every day to try to guide public change. We beat the drum on transparency in government, on civility, on equal rights, on reasonable gun safety and immigration laws.

We’ve seen occasions where just one person in a position of power can read an editorial that leads to a shift in public policy. Other times, we’re fully aware that our words can plummet into a void.

But if there is one person we relentless strive to influence, it is you.

We need you to vote. Your town needs you to vote. Your state needs you to vote. Your nation needs you to vote.

And most of you just don’t. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. Year after year, the majority of registered voters in most communities just don’t bother to fill out a ballot, let alone research candidates beyond their party affiliation. We shudder to consider the number of people who don’t even register.

Opinion is easy. Everyone has their own passions, even if it’s merely for the beverage they consume after awakening to each dawn.

But voting is a privilege. Voting is action. Voting is democracy.

It would be hypocritical of us to try to persuade you to vote but not weigh in ourselves. You can do so privately. We can take the inevitable blow-back and insults from the masked trolls on the web.

It would take less courage for us to stay silent. Our goal is to further the discourse. If we inspire you to vote the opposite way, that’s OK too. Our endorsements don’t count on Election Day. Only one thing can make a difference: Your vote.