We at the Flyer get many queries about our endorsement policy from various candidates and their supporters. Our answer is always the same — and it reflects a policy that was established when the Flyer was founded in 1989: We don't endorse candidates.
Dedicated longtime readers may recall that we have slightly hedged on that resolve a time or two, but we have inevitably returned to it as the solid anchor that keeps us moored in the overriding mission of serving the public, not instructing it in its decisions.
Any such resolve should be reviewed from time to time, and we reviewed it again this year before deciding to leave it in place. It isn't a matter of being above the battle (our critics are ever-ready to accuse us of having favorites, and maybe, at some level, we do — though there is more variance in our editorial councils than many would imagine). Nor is it a matter of our being squeamish about choosing. We don't pull many punches when we address policy matters on our editorial page, and if we were to start picking and choosing among political candidates, we feel sure we could step up and take some pretty straight pops.
But here's the rub: Hardly ever do we encounter an "it" candidate who totally expresses the dotted "i" and the crossed "t" of our desires. Nor one who has fully plumbed the public needs of the moment and has come up with perfect solutions. Nor one who sums up the best aspects of a political party or movement while remaining free and unencumbered of its less worthy aspects.
Every now and then, somebody comes close, but A) if we've done our job of coverage properly, we've supplied the matrix from which conscientious readers can discern for themselves who such paragons might be; and B) if we haven't, then our motives would be suspect anyhow.
But our real reason for holding back on endorsements is simply out of respect for our readers' need to make their own reasoned judgments or to pursue their intuition or maybe even to honor their own whims. And there's the simple fact that truth, such as it is, is likely to be found piecemeal — a part of it in one candidate, another in a second candidate, and yet another key ingredient in a third. We discovered this all over again this year in the course of interviewing candidates for major office at length (a process that continues) and sharing the results of those conversations by means of videos posted online.
Some candidates impress us with what they say, others with what they do. And our capacity for dismay works both ways, too. We don't mind serving as gatekeepers for the public, but we see our main function in doing so to be that of assuring that the gate continues to swing wide and open.