Saturday, May 10, 2014

Endorsements in Politics or The Politics of Endorsements

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City of Torrance -- Pacific Railroad Bridge
He is a registered Republican who endorsed a Democrat. I will never vote him!

She was a registered Republican, and now she's an independent. How can I trust what I will get if I vote for this person?

That person has union endorsements. That should be the kiss of death!

Endorsements are key for a politician seeking office or seeking to stay in the game.

I just received a mailer from one campaign, which provided an entire slew of endorsements from former and current politicians as well as local civic leaders and professionals.

I also noticed that key donors were not listed, but that's another issue altogether. . .

I spoke with another local leader, and I was surprised to see that he had donated money to a candidate from one political party, even though he belongs to another.

I asked him to explain why:

"Look, Art. I'm a pragmatist. And I think that this person is going to win, so I give him a little money so that he can work with me in the future."

That discussion forced me to consider a number of issues regarding endorsements.

First of all, major groups and influential individuals will not necessarily endorse someone because they agree with his or her stance on issues, but because they believe that that person is more likely to win.

That's not much of an endorsement, in my view. With the rise of social media and instant information, support for a candidate can flip overnight.

In other cases, individuals endorse certain candidates to maintain their credibility with specific organizations, regardless of the reliability or the viability of the candidate. Local political clubs will

Partisanship indeed can be a two-edged sword. Some Republican candidates for Torrance City Council are perceived as very liberal, but only because of their stance on one or two issues. Other candidates have endorsed Democrats in the past, or have been endorsed by Democratic lawmakers.

Should we then throw out every candidate who has a working relationship with individuals affiliated with the other political party?
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Torrance High School
Such ideological purity can create a political vacuum.

Another local leader endorsed seventeen people for city council. Seventeen! He endorsed many candidates because he  believes that these  candidates can offer key services and assistance to his organization. Such endorsements spring from commitments to other organizations.

Another reason why the Chamber of Commerce, or certain employee associations, are choosing to support certain candidates. No one wants to look like a loser, so people will back a winner, even if that candidate has not won them over with his or her values.

William F. Buckley
"You're voting for who?"
There are also candidates who have received endorsements from the public sector unions, but those candidates are not taking union money. Should I be concerned in that case? To what extent does an endorsement have a hold on a candidate? Does it matter?

To the best of my ability, I am following the William F. Buckley rule:

"Endorse the conservative candidate who is the most electable."

Electability is a reality which every voter, every partisan, every activist must grapple with in the city of Torrance. Some conservatives disagree and are pressing ahead to the most ideologically pure candidate, yet those campaigns lack consistency, connections, or competence.

The three Cs are important to me in order to endorse a conservative candidate: consistent, competent, and connected.

Competence includes the ground game, like financing, lawn signs, and a grasp of the issues.

Consistent identifies the integrity of the candidate to the views and the issues.

Connected speaks to their outreach, their media following, and their capacity to work with other politicians and public servants.

No candidate is perfect, and the pursuit of a perfect candidate can be not only the enemy of the good candidate, but end up assisting the bad candidates, those with no experience or with complete reliance on unions and other liberal special interests.

One local leader lamented to me how the imperfections stand out with all Torrance City Council candidates. Welcome to the real world, I guess. "Politics is the art of the possible" also comes to mind,

The more I learn about who is running, the more I am convinced that Torrance residents need to focus not just on getting the right people in office, but getting the people in office to do the right thing, regardless of initial platforms and party affiliation.

At least I have a different perspective on the endorsement process altogether, and will not rest on who supports (or does not support) a candidate as the key criteria for endorsing anyone.

1 comment:

  1. Don't rest, Artie! Carry on, wayward, um, son!