Finley: Why we choose who we choose

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

We are about halfway through our endorsement process for Michigan's Aug. 2 primary. Last week we made our picks for Congress, and in upcoming days we'll offer our recommendations in state Legislative races and the Republican gubernatorial contest.

Redistricting and term limits have lured a lot of newcomers into politics this year, as has, I suspect, the anger, fear and frustration over conditions of the state and nation. Apparently, a lot of folks have decided if they want something done about this mess, they'll have to do it themselves.

The ballot is packed. There are a lot of candidates to sort through. Making endorsements is a responsibility we take seriously — we don't flip coins. And we believe endorsing in elections is still an essential exercise, even as many newspapers have stopped making election picks.

Making endorsements is a responsibility we take seriously, Finley writes. And we believe endorsing in elections is still an essential exercise, even as many newspapers have stopped making election picks.

Many readers tell us they appreciate the help, particularly when faced with a ballot as long as the one this year. 

Typically, we look for candidates who reflect our traditional conservative values of free markets, smaller, efficient government and maximum individual freedom. If that candidate is not on the ballot in any given race, we look for a competent choice who best reflects the values of the people they're seeking to represent.

This year, we've broadened our criteria.  It's not enough for a candidate to simply adopt the conservative label. The word "conservative" has come to mean different things to different people, and some of the definitions we find unacceptable.

Intolerance is not a conservative value, nor is advocating for the government to exert its power to create a social order that reflects a narrow cultural or religious worldview.

We are especially drawn to candidates who recognize the growing dangers of division and incivility and commit to unity. Fortunately, we're seeing more of those this year than in the past.

While traditionally our views have aligned closely with those of the Republican Party, we have never been knee-jerk in putting our stamp on GOP hopefuls. Each cycle, a third or more of our endorsements go to Democrats.

This year, party labels matter far less, given the fissures in the GOP. We are looking beyond the R and the D in search of candidates who pledge to engage in pragmatic, cooperative governing and pull politics back toward the center. 

While there are no hard litmus tests, I will say we have no interest in cultists or ideologues. Candidates who call themselves Trump Republicans and salute the former president's delusions generally need not apply. 

Likewise, we largely reject those Democrats who have have adopted a "by any means necessary" philosophy that shows no respect for America's institutions and sees the Constitution as a guide when it's convenient, irrelevant when it's not.

In the general election this fall, when the ballot broadens to include more third-party candidates, we will give them a hard look. That reflects an ongoing dissatisfaction with a political duopoly that has poisoned the country with partisanship.

We hope readers find our recommendations helpful, but also urge them to be informed citizens, and search out as much additional information as they can before casting their vote.

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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