Slusher: How to use our endorsements

On Sunday, the Daily Herald's Opinion page will begin conducting one of the newspaper's most important functions — participating in the democracy. We want you to join us.

I'm not talking here about simply our role of promoting democracy or even facilitating it, though both are intrinsic objectives we have as a community resource. I'm talking about participating.

With our endorsements of individuals for public office, we aim to influence the future of our region, state and nation, but not only in the way you may think. Yes, we intend to tell you who we think will make the best governor for the next four years, who the best U.S. senator. Who offers the most promise for various congressional seats as well as for numerous statewide and county positions. How to look at numerous referendums. On all these things, we hope our editorials will sway you. Like you when you cast your vote, we hope our positions will prevail.

But we have an additional, perhaps even more important goal beyond that. We also hope our positions will engage you, whether you agree with us or not.

Democracy is built on the recognition that various interests and individuals will disagree about the best approach to advancing society's needs and interests. It is strengthened by the debates and discussions that spring from the issues society confronts. It is validated by the actions society — which is to say, voters — take on Election Day.

Newspapers have a long-standing sense of obligation at all stages of that continuum. We reflect that not only in the extensive reporting we do about political candidates and issues, but also in the opinions we express about the issues affecting the region we call home — and, in being a clearing house for diverse opinions expressed by all citizens who share this home with us.

So, we hope our endorsement editorials over the next couple of weeks influence and inspire you. We also hope they engage you.

We know very well you may not agree with us on every call. Sometimes, you may disagree strongly. We welcome that. We see it not as an end but a starting point for making the decisions that will directly affect the quality of all our lives for the coming years. And, we aim to keep the process moving toward that ultimate validation by bringing you into the debate.

We have a standing invitation for you to write letters, supporting or opposing the positions we take on candidates, and we have a liberal policy toward making sure your letters are shared with the wider community, whether in print, online or both. In some cases, as with our endorsement for governor, we'll be taking exceptional measures to provide additional space so you can react, so you can add your voice and your ideas to discussing the positions we take.

We'll also be opening avenues for you to engage with us and with your neighbors through civil, if lively, conversations and debates in the online comments portions following our editorials as well as on our Facebook page and through other social media connections.

These are all components of what we see as not just watching democracy but participating in it. We hope you'll participate with us.

• Jim Slusher,, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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