In Virginia's 2nd District (my home district) Democratic Congressman Glenn Nye and Republican Scott Rigell are within one point of each other with only one week left before the polls close. Unfortunately, for the independent challenger Kenny Golden, he's far in third place with only 5 points. Clearly, everyone needs all the help they can get in these last few days of the 2010 campaign. They can count me out, though.
Oh, I'll still vote. I wouldn't sit out an election for anything. Too many people around the world are denied the privilege of electing their own leaders for me to ever take my right for granted. However, an endorsement this year will not be forthcoming from Free Exchange.
I've endorsed candidates before, on both sides. In last year's gubernatorial race, I endorsed Bob McDonnell who eventually went on to win the election. I also endorsed his eventual opponent, Creigh Deeds, in the Democratic primary, just so I'd have the best two candidates in the general election. As long as primaries and caucuses are in place, I believe in using them to ensure we have the best roster of candidates available to us.
At this point, though, it's hard to get excited enough about any of the candidates to say "I'm standing behind him 100%." They each have their high and low marks, and they all have their good and bad ideas. I don't want to get into a list of them, partly because I've written about them before, and partly because I don't feel this is the best time to say "I'm supporting him, and this is why".
A lot of endorsements are "rolled out" in the last week before the election. It's probably because most newspapers, candidates, pundits, and other politicos don't want to appear too partisan too early on. Maybe they want to wait until they feel confident backing "the winner". Or maybe they feel that most people don't actually start paying attention until the last week or so, which makes then the best time to say "this is who you should vote for and why". That all may be true; but if it is, then waiting until now to endorse a candidate is both cynical and manipulative.
If I'm going to endorse a candidate, then I do it early. If it actually takes me this long to make up my mind, then there's no sense expecting others to make up theirs any more quickly (or on my say-so). Yes, I feel strongly about the candidates; not only in my district, but across the country as well. Yes, I feel the election is important; so important that I don't want to see any American waste their opportunity to vote. Early voting has already begun, in fact, so we could all vote today. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, so I'm waiting until the actual Election Day (also to give myself more time to reach a decision).
That's the only real reason to wait, either to vote or to endorse: because you're not sure who the best is. Often, we are, and we usually have no trouble saying so; but there's nothing wrong, especially in these uncertain times, with taking as much time as you have to weigh all the factors. Maybe nothing will change between now and next Tuesday; but if the last two years have taught us anything, it's that politics are full of surprises.
So, if you've made up your mind, then good for you. I say go out and vote right now (if you're able to, of course). Make whatever endorsements you like, for whatever reason you like, and don't hesitate to tell everyone you meet. Speech is still free, after all. As for myself ... I've still got a few days left.
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