Who's picking your president?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It seems like a person can't answer the phone, read their email or log on to social media this week without being bombarded with endorsements for one candidate or another.

It seems like every two-bit newspaper columnist or TV commentator is making sure to tell you who to vote for. Every assistant to the assistant county recorder is throwing their weight behind a campaign, and many congress members, governors or other political notables are heavily courted for their favor.

Every business CEO, labor lobby, religious group, immigrant organization or gun club feels like they have the right to browbeat you into supporting their candidate.

Of course the campaigns trumpet every "endorsement" they can wrangle. One candidate sent us 34 of them, just today, all from Iowa. A couple of area mayors, who should know better than to try to influence elections, were among them.

Even some school board members around Iowa are endorsing candidates for president. Am I the only one who finds this odd? I feel like I need to know who waterpark lifeguards, shoe store retailers, and left-handed hairdressers are endorsing.

And do you know what all of the endorsements - big or small - amount to?

Not a thing. No one else's opinion matters any more or less than your own does. That's what democracy is made of.

Are all these big shots and groups announcing their endorsements really interested in the best interests of the country? In some cases, I'm sure they are. But in many, they are using the election as an opportunity to snatch a little attention for themselves, make sure everyone knows how important they think they are. They endorse to promote their career, protect hefty income or plug their one pet cause above all else.

If they picked a losing horse, they can hammer you with it for the next four years. "We told you how to fix America, and you voters went and messed it up, dummy." And if they guess right, they might just be able to parlay their kiss-up into an invite to the White House, a spot on some committee, or at least bragging rights among their cronies at cocktail parties.

People often ask me why the Pilot-Tribune doesn't endorse candidates. Simple: it's not our job.

We're here to report on the issues and how they impact our communities, to cover candidates from either party fairly when they roll through, to be one tool for our readers to use in making up their own minds. We'll editorialize on the issues, but we have no right to tell you that you have to vote for candidate A, or that you can't vote for candidate B. It would be pretty hard for people to trust us as objective if we were using ink only to promote one candidate, party or ideology.

Choosing - that's your job.

So, if you are looking for someone to tell you what to do Monday night, you're looking in the wrong place. There is no shortage of those media "endorsements" elsewhere if you need them.

But honestly, aren't you a little miffed at the parade of haughty endorsements? The implications are that you don't know enough, or are not smart enough, to process the information and make an informed choice on your own. Just relax and let us take care of that for you...

Baloney. There is every chance that an individual voter is as informed, as open minded, or more so, than any given media type, politician or celebrity.

I've been happy to see that in Buena Vista County, unlike many others in Iowa, both county party chairs have stayed neutral up to the caucus, letting people decide for themselves. Our city council and board of supervisors are attending to their own issues instead of stumbling over each other to ride coattails of presidential hopefuls.

Don't let anybody try to extort you into voting their way, especially when they are out mainly to try to build their own influence.

If it wasn't bad enough to endure politicians and pundits presuming to instruct you what to do with your vote, there's a whopping industry of celebrity endorsements already out there.

Former NBA badboy Dennis Rodman is backing Donald Trump, as is ear-biting ex-boxer Mike Tyson and stability-challenged actor Gary Busey. Willie Robertson is shooting ducks out in his dynasty with Ted Cruz. Kim Kardashian's rear end, Snoop Dogg's rap lyrics, and drag queen Ru Paul's glittered gowns are firmly in the Hillary Clinton camp. Lilliputian actor Danny DeVito is endorsing Bernie Sanders, along with comedy movie icon Will Ferrell, the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, MMA butt-kicker Ronda Rousey and the loveable alcoholic "Norm" from "Cheers." Chuck Norris, who can do anything he pleases, is a Mike Huckabee guy, along with '70s crooner Tony Orlando. Kid Rock sides with Ben Carson, James Woods with Carly Florina. "Pawn Star" Rick Harrison and "Porn Star" Jenna Jameson have endorsed Marco Rubio.

(Feel free to insert your own joke here about what politicans are usually doing to the population.)

If someone had to tell you what Hollywood endorsements are worth, there'd be no hope for this country.

It's way too easy to let someone else make your decision for you, or to get distracted by the glitz and glamour of the big shots lining up in the various camps.

I would suggest, ultimately, that a person's choice may come down to who they believe will unite, not divide, America. I'll never tell you who to vote for, but I will suggest that it might not be a good idea to vote for anyone you wouldn't trust to watch your dog.