This year, The Repository editorial board will not exercise a prerogative we’ve always held dear — endorsement of a candidate for president.
Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has convinced us that he has a solid plan that will effectively address the nation’s problems, some of which are at a crisis point.
Since 1980, when The Repository became a politically independent newspaper, the editorial board has endorsed three Republicans and two Democrats for president. Someendorsements have been more enthusiastic than others, but all have represented the board’s belief that the nation would be better led by one candidate than the other.
This year, we cannot say that.
Certainly it needn’t have been this way. The candidates are smart, thoughtful, articulate men. They could have gone beyond generic stump speeches, platitudes, sound bites and attacks on each other. They and their allies have raised so much campaign money, they could have given voters a substantive message a hundred times over.
They haven’t done so despite these assets, and despite the urgent need to resolve issues of a magnitude unimagined even four years ago.
Nothing illustrates the deficiencies of their campaigns better than the nonpartisan Concord Coalition’s recent analysis of their fiscal policies. Gov. Romney “has certainly given insufficient detail to establish that he has a credible plan to balance the budget,” and the three parts of his plan to reduce tax rates without increasing the deficit “are mathematically incompatible.” President Obama’s plans to balance the budget “clearly show ... an inadequate long-term fiscal goal,” and he has been “as vague as Gov. Romney in detailing how he would pay for his proposed (tax) rate reduction.”
In addition, neither candidate has demonstrated how he will make a good-faith effort to find common ground with the other political party over the next four years. Without a persuasive initiative by the president to reach across the aisle, Washington’s decision makers won’t escape the polarization, gridlock and brinksmanship that jeopardize their ability to solve these problems.
Combine the lack of substance and political good will with the dominance of attack ads, and neither candidate should dare to say that he has given Americans the campaign that they need and deserve.
Our editorial board welcomes both praise and criticism of the decision not to endorse a candidate this year. We’re looking forward to your letters to the editor.
In four years, we’ll take another look at endorsing a candidate. Meanwhile, we’ll watch Washington with open minds and hope that the man who takes the oath of office Jan. 20 will prove us wrong.
Christopher White, publisher
Therese D. Hayt, executive editor
Gayle Beck, editorial page editor