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posted: 10/7/2012 5:00 AM

Editorial: A word about our political endorsements

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

There are a number of media critics who question the value and the seeming audacity of newspaper endorsements.

We understand the argument. But we respectfully disagree with it.

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We believe that endorsements are part of our obligation to the community and to the role of the press in the democratic process.

We compare it, in some respects to this:

There are a number of cynics who question the value of voting. Some do so pounding their chests, some by simply not showing up. Many of these cynics may even vote, but they undervalue that privilege by failing to take the time to study whom they're voting for or against.

Again, we understand the arguments against voting. But we less respectfully disagree with them.

We believe that voting is a part of every citizen's obligation to the community and to the role of the electorate in the democratic process.

Our belief in the vote is inseparable from our belief in endorsements. Our obligation is tied to your obligation.

Our endorsements in the 2012 general elections will begin Monday. It is true that in making them we hope they are a factor in your decision about who gets your vote.

We expend a great deal of time, thought and energy into them. We feel an obligation not only to make them but to make them thoughtfully. Largely, the idea is to provide you with the benefit of the generally better access we have to the candidates and the political processes.

In making them, we also strive to stay true to our institutional voice: a moderate philosophy that is fiscally conservative while socially somewhat progressive. We aim to look out for society's best interests and for the suburbs' best interests, in that order. We believe that the public good is best served when everyone tries to work together to identify and solve problems.

That is our general philosophy, and for the most part it will be reflected in our editorial endorsements.

It may not be your philosophy. That's OK. In a free society, there is disagreement. If it's not your philosophy, keep that in mind while weighing our endorsements.

Our priority here isn't to influence your vote but rather to engage you and your neighbors in the process. To get our readers to think. To get our readers to debate. To get our readers to vote.

That's the linkage between our role in the democracy and yours, the linkage between our obligation to endorse and your obligation to vote.

Our endorsement, in the final analysis, is just an opinion. And informed one, we hope, but just that, an opinion. We view it ideally as one factor of many in your vote.

The real aim here is to spur voters to deliberate, to research, to accept the obligation of voting with seriousness of purpose.

That seriousness of purpose, that's the key. That's how we all make for a better community and a better country -- a thoughtful partnership for the greater good.

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