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posted: 2/19/2012 5:00 AM

The sentiment behind our endorsements in Election 2012

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

It is difficult to remember a more partisan time in Washington and in our national politics. In Springfield too, collaboration is an under-practiced art form.

These are times of great challenges -- an economy still struggling, government debt at record levels, ominous threats around the globe, corruption in our politics and on Wall Street, the list goes on and on.

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It is a climate that calls for thoughtful debate, and an environment that cries out for solutions-oriented leaders who care more about addressing our problems than toeing the party line.

On Monday, we will begin issuing recommendations in most of the primary races that will be on suburban ballots on March 20, continuing a tradition of candidate endorsements that dates back as long as our Opinion page.

As we said in this space a few weeks ago, we don't view our endorsements as infallible. We view them as our best judgments based on a conscientious assessment of the candidates.

As we also said at that time, we view the endorsements as recommendations, not edicts. They are one factor for you to consider when entering the voting booth. Hopefully, they can be a helpful tool in that regard. But they are not intended to be a replacement for a voter's research on the candidates. We see them as merely one element in that research.

How to evaluate our endorsements?

Let us simply say this. We do not issue any endorsements lightly. We give each of

them our attention, our care and our concern. There are times, frankly, when we absolutely agonize over them.

There are plenty of close calls.

Sometimes we wish we could endorse more than one candidate in a race because more than one impresses. Sometimes we wish we could avoid endorsing any candidate because no one impresses. But only rarely have we given in to either wish. The electorate must make a choice so it's our responsibility to make one too.

Some conservatives label our Opinion page view as liberal. Some liberals label it as conservative. We believe both labels are wrong.

Historically, the Daily Herald's editorial page voice has stood for independence. It is moderate on social issues, conservative on fiscal issues.

We don't believe in big government, and we don't believe government can solve all our problems. But at the same time, we believe government has a role to play in solving a number of them.

Mainly, we believe in common sense and in decency.

In making our endorsements, all these values come into play.

One more thing: It is difficult, as we said at the beginning, to remember a more partisan time in our politics. That is an absolute shame. Partisanship creates obstacles to real solutions and breeds a corrosive cynicism in the life of the republic.

If there is any single attribute our endorsements prize this year, it is a spirit of collaboration, genuine bipartisanship. Where we find it, we will strive to recommend it.

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