Why We Don’t Endorse Candidates

Don Chapman
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September 20, 2006
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Although we’ve been asked to do so by a number of candidates and their supporters, once again MidWeek is not endorsing any political candidates this year.

And as long as I’m the editor, we will not.

I know, I know - there is a long history of American newspapers endorsing candidates on their editorial pages. And in theory there’s probably nothing terribly wrong with it. Although quite frankly, from my perspective, having the backing of a newspaper editorial board may be only slightly more valuable to a candidate than a ringing endorsement from, say, the Moiliili Weed Whackers Association.


It’s the old opinions-are-like-okoles thing - everybody has one.

And while journalists who cover politics are supposed to be highly informed, personal prejudices - for or against - still come into play. Knowing people at both daily papers, which have endorsed candidates, I’m not convinced that their insights or intellect are superior to those of anyone else who pays attention to and thinks about the news. So why should their opinions be superior?

In an informal polling of MidWeek editorial board members after we interviewed U.S. Senate candidates Dan Akaka and Ed Case on consecutive days, there was no overwhelming consensus. Some people liked Dan, some liked Ed. Even if we were taking sides, an endorsement should reflect more than a 4-3 vote of board members. And it should certainly be more than just the editor’s or publisher’s opinion. (Don’t know their inner workings, but the Advertiser went for Akaka, the Star-Bulletin for Case. What does that tell you?)

The greater issue for me here is not showing a bias, either for one candidate or for one party. While our various columnists are free to express their opinions of candidates, MidWeek‘s editorial position is to remain independent and neutral, free of favoritism.

We think it’s our duty to present readers with as many different opinions as possible every week, and come election time to give you insights into candidates for the biggest races - as we did with the Sept. 6 Akaka-Case cover and the Sept. 1 District 2 cover story, and with the Mufi-Duke cover two years ago - presenting their comments side by side. If you’ve read those stories, you know roughly as much about the candidates as we do.


I’ve heard from some readers who appreciate MidWeek‘s refusal to take sides, and hope that you respect our stand too.

A vote is a very personal thing. The only thing that really matters is that you inform yourself as much as possible, and then go out and vote. The word “duty” doesn’t get used much in our modern world outside of the military, but I firmly believe that those of us who daily benefit from living in the land of the free and the home of the brave have an absolute duty to participate in this thing called democracy, at least every couple of years. That means voting, based entirely on facts available to you and your own convictions.

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