...no one. If you've been reading this blog from the proverbial Day One (late February 2005, if you're keeping score) you'd know that early on, in one of the many posts that were destroyed in the same way that many great sports highlights of yesteryear were taped over, I announced that I would never endorse a candidate. And I never have. In fact, I don;t think that newspapers should endorse candidates, either,. for the same reasons I'm about to spell out.
It sounds like a contradiction -- numerous times I've argued for a form of journalism in which writers don't feel constrained from forcefully uphold certain ideas, as long as they are fair and true to the facts. So why not say I endorse Candidate X, or Candidate Y? I think writers can and should feel passionate about their ideas, and their ideals. If you read this blog regularly you know that I support freedom of speech and freedom of protest and assembly with few constraints, that I oppose war that's not fought in self-defense or to prevent ongoing genocide, that I also oppose capital punishment, that I believe in a kind of capitalism in which everyone has a fair start with equal access to education and health care.
Those are ideas -- and the core principles do not change. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, to name just two politicians, are only human, born to make mistakes. In an election, they will say what they're going to do -- but you may have noticed that when they get into office they don't always keep their promises. And I think when you endorse a politician, you become too vested in their success. And when that happens, you rationalize those times they stray from the core principals -- when they instead deserve criticism.
Obama is the perfect example. He's done a number of things that I approve of -- his stimulus program probably prevented the Great Depression II, he worked to save the auto industry, his flawed health care program is still a big upgrade from what we had, and after a slow start he's done more for gay rights than any president who came before him. But he's been a huge disappointment in some areas -- continuing and actually expanding some of the worst national security abuses of the Bush eras, falling short in his promise to close Guantanamo, and a lack of transparency. I've seen far too many progressives defend actions like the Obama administration "kill lists" or continuing the Patriot Act when they'd be taking it to the streets if George W. Bush had done the same things. That's wrong. I've repeatedly criticized Obama on the blog for his handling of these matters. Anything less than that would be hypocritical.
That's not that there are not major, important differences between the major candidates. While they don't talk nearly enough about some things that are really important, like Afghanistan or climate change, there's a big gap in how they'll handle matters like income inequality, regulating Wall Street, providing health care, and rights for women and gay people, Voters who pretend those differences don't exist do so at their own peril. And the only thing I can guarantee is that whoever gets sworn in on Jan. 20, he'll get ripped on this blog from time to time.
I'm going to be off from tonight through Monday. But if you want to endorse one of the candidates (including third-party candidates like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, if you hate drones or like pot) in the space below....the time's yours. Make the case.