By Lizzy Elkins, Senior Print Editor
Apathy and democracy, shouldn’t go hand in hand
One of the most accredited publications in the state, The Oregonian, recently published their candidate endorsement for the 2016 election. To our surprise at The Hummer, and to the surprise of many others, the Editorial Board at The Oregonian chose not to endorse a presidential candidate. They cited their standing policy of no endorsements for national races as the main reason behind the lack of an endorsement, however that reasoning wasn’t present in their published editorial, instead, they stated that “most Oregon voters have already chosen whether they support Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump”, as if no one at all would be impacted by their publishing of a recommendation.
The Hummer is appalled at The Oregonian and it’s Editorial Board for not endorsing a candidate at all and condemns the lazy the stance they chose to take, which was poorly written and apathetically reasoned. As a newspaper, the choice to abstain from a recommendation isn’t brave in the slightest, as their editorial suggests it is. It is irresponsible and shows how little the Editorial Board cares about their newspaper’s civic duty as part of the media, a duty which is focused on educating the public, and maintaining and being an advocate for first amendment rights. As a large and accredited publication, there has to be some awareness of a newspaper’s civic responsibility on not only a local level but a national level as well.
Granted, The Oregonian does cover all of the local races, including every ballot measure and state office. As a historically conservative paper, not making a recommendation is rather telling and implies a reluctance to come off more liberal than they used to be under the leadership of their former editorial pages editor, who was very openly conservative, according to their current Editorial Pages Editor.
The choice between which candidate to endorse isn’t a hard one, in fact, it’s extremely simple to choose which to endorse because there is truly only one viable option of who our next president could be. A simple nonpartisan comparison of experience in the political sphere is enough to let someone decide that the obvious choice for president is Clinton. However, even if The Oregonian made a formal endorsement for Trump, Johnson, or Stein, it would have been more respectable than abstaining from a recommendation altogether.
National policies impact local issues
One reason given in the editorial as to why they chose to abstain from a recommendation was that, even without a presidential endorsement from The Oregonian, democracy would go on unaffected. Another reason as to why they chose to abstain from an endorsement is that they, “offer opinions on races and issues [they] think are most important to Oregonians – and on those which [their] endorsement could make a difference.”
Maybe they forgot that Oregon isn’t its own sovereign nation as if a national election isn’t relevant to Oregon residents, who also surprisingly happen to be part of the United States. Laura Gunderson, The Oregonian’s Editorial and Commentary Pages Editor, stated that as a newspaper, they are “no longer the everything for everybody. What sets us apart is local news… We aren’t a national news source anymore”.
Except, the national election is local news because we live in The United States. It’s not as if this election is happening in some far off country and we won’t be affected at all. The decisions being made will most definitely impact our daily lives. Women, members of the LGBTQ+ communities, people of color, and immigrants will be specifically and significantly impacted by this political race. Oregon is not an enclave merely floating in some random country. Federal policy, federal laws, and Supreme Court rulings and judge appointments will impact us as a state, citizens, and residents. It doesn’t matter if we don’t live in Washington D.C., to say that the results of this election won’t impact people living in Oregon is careless and misleading.
Giving voice to third party voters
In Oregon alone, only 70% of citizens vote, even with mail-in ballots (data courtesy of Oregon Live). Compared to the rest of the country, the percentage of people voting is high, and to assume that the voters’ minds are completely made up is ignorant on the whole. Making statements such as, “I believe most Oregon voters have already chosen whether they support Hillary or Trump.”, results in exclusions of a meaningful portion of third-party and unaffiliated voters, people who already feel as if their vote doesn’t matter. Gunderson, also stated that “Oregon doesn’t have a large number of undecided voters in this election”.
But, according to the Independent Voter Project a nonpartisan and nonprofit platform for journalists and Independent voters, as of 2016, 27.20% of voters in Oregon are registered, Independent. That means that there are roughly 589,823 people in Oregon who are registered to vote, but who aren’t affiliated with the Democratic or Republican party. That’s a lot of people, and to exclude them and assume that they’ve 100% already decided who to vote for is careless and abdicates a newspaper’s civic duty to educate the public.
As a country that traditionally centers around a classic two-party system, we exclude a valuable section of voters every year. This pool of undecided voters and nonvoters alike can have a very distinct effect on this election if they chose to. Third party voters tend to be disregarded enough by our two-party system, and when we have such a great percentage of independent voters, that leaves a huge amount of people who may be undecided.
Above and beyond all partisan considerations, at this point in the election, given the choice, there should be no question of who to endorse. It’s simple to us, and it’s simple to prominent figures in the GOP who decided not to go to the Republican National Convention this year (among them John McCain, Mitt Romney, the Bush family, and Lindsey Graham). It shouldn’t be particularly hard to make a recommendation, this year especially when the two candidates are so diametrically opposed.
Hillary Clinton for President
Hillary Clinton is the only viable and qualified candidate who is running for office this year, but even if they hadn’t endorsed her specifically, it’s still worse that they abstained to endorse altogether. It doesn’t matter that The Oregonian is a historically conservative publication.There is nothing brave about not making a choice. They chose not to recommend someone from any party and shirked their ability to influence the election either way and their responsibility to be a source of information for the public.
Apart from the much-scrutinized character of each candidate, they both carry themselves in terms of a policy, in very contrasting ways. Focusing in on the manner in which they respond to issues, Clinton establishes concise plans while maintaining inclusion of all, whereas Trump talks around crucial issues and makes promises that exclude a sizable chunk of the population. For example, immigration has been central to this election season and Clinton has addressed this through an executive plan to aid more eligible people to secure citizenship, to give others a chance to profit from their hard work, despite stereotypes. In contrast, Trump has crafted a loose argument to “build a wall”, excluding minorities, based on sweeping generalizations. Not only does this display that Clinton retains knowledge and poise in delivery, but also her awareness of human rights.
Whether Republican or Democratic, the choice is clear. Clinton is the only candidate who possesses the experience and morals to run this country. This isn’t just a call to who obtains control of the presidency, but a call to human rights. On the whole, Trump, on several counts, displays a nonchalant disregard for human rights. If we, as a country, elect someone who so blatantly defies the core of unalienable rights, we are allowing this behavior to be the model. Immigration and taxes may be controversial topics, but the violation of another human being in such a provocative manner, is not.
As the days until the General Election countdown, unaffiliated voters and Independent voters alike look to publications and news organizations like The Oregonian and its affiliates for information and opinions as to who to vote for. To not endorse a candidate is to abdicate a newspaper’s civic responsibility to inform and educate. Photo courtesy of The Midnight Sun.