The Non-Endorsement

May 12, 2010 at 5:00 am

I once had a friend* who habitually brushed off homework in freshman Spanish class, consequently resulting in her begging for a glimpse of my workbook minutes before the bell rang. Being an impressionable teenager, I typically acquiesced, giving her just enough time to frantically fill in the blanks.

Needless to say, my friend grew lazy and accustomed to getting the answers, and who could blame her — the system seemed to be working out swimmingly. Then came the day Señora Buchenberger called on her to recite one of the answers she had gleaned from my homework. With confidence, she rattled off: “Juan es chili con carne.”

Translation: “John is chili with meat.”

It was the last time my slacker friend asked to copy my homework; she began participating in class, diligently completing assignments, and acing tests, ultimately surpassing me in learning the Spanish language.

Now, you must be wondering how this anecdote could possibly fit into an editorial introducing our Election Issue. Well, it’s an analogy intended to explain why LEO is not endorsing any candidates, despite having strong opinions about this flock of aspiring leaders.

For months, LEO has striven to provide thorough reporting and analysis of the various political contests under way. As a result, we hope readers are now fully equipped to make their own informed decisions about how to vote in the primary on May 18.

Of course, it’s likely some of you have been oblivious, either too busy to keep up, too jaded by politics to pay attention, or too lazy to care. Our advice: Start cramming (beginning with the election coverage in this issue), because we’re not going to bail you out with step-by-step instructions on how to cast your ballot. It’s for your own good.

And while we stand by our decision, there were times in the latter stage of this primary season when we were tempted to break down and tell you what to do. In fact, we were wavering as recently as last week.

But then we read The Courier-Journal on Sunday, and our decision was validated. In 1,100 uninspired words, the paper’s editorial board urged readers to vote Greg Fischer in the Democratic primary for mayor.

We found this endorsement troubling not due to the fact that we disagree with their choice (although it’s quite possible we do), but because it simply regurgitated a handful of Fischer’s talking points, watered down complex issues and served as yet another platform for the C-J to tout the Ohio River Bridges Project. The piece exemplifies how an endorsement can sometimes do more harm than good.

The C-J’s Cliffs Notes version of the mayoral campaign commends Fischer for having a “thoughtful, deep and broad platform,” but fails to elaborate on said platform (perhaps because it’s not all that thoughtful after all). It goes on to bash Fischer’s opponents, saying in a nutshell: Councilman David Tandy has an impressive platform, but an inability to raise money makes him unworthy of endorsement; Councilman Jim King, despite a grasp of the issues and knowledge of city government, cannot be mayor because of personal baggage; and Tyler Allen is opposed to the Bridges Project, and therefore “unsuited for the job of mayor.”

We disagree on all counts, at least as they are relayed in the C-J’s abridged interpretation of events. Why does a lack of funding eliminate Tandy from contention? How is it appropriate to casually mention decades-old domestic violence allegations against King, then fail to explain his ex-wife recently indicated the claims — made in divorce papers — were embellished? What’s with the obvious oversimplification and mean-spirited misrepresentation of Allen?

At this point, we suggest undecided voters spend the coming days doing their homework, and then select the candidates they believe are best suited to lead.

It’s worth noting that LEO Weekly might very well resume the practice of endorsing in the future. And although we’re pretty confident we’ll be right, don’t just blindly follow our lead — think. As dedicated, educated LEO readers, we’re sure you’ll make the right decision.

*Disclaimer: This story has been altered to protect the good name of the writer, with the hope that the reader disregards footnotes. For those who have opted to read until the end, I must confess I am the reformed slacker and Spanish language butcher. Please don’t judge — I was only 14.