That’s our recommendation in the Nov. 8 presidential election.
Understand, we’re not being wise guys. We’re simply asking voters to make a selection; don’t stay home in disgust.
Many voters may be tempted to sit this one out. They may dislike both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and find themselves pained at the thought of supporting either one.
We say, get over it.
But we’re not going to tell you whom to choose. We, too, have serious reservations about them both, and reservations as well about the third-party candidates whose presence on the ballot could make a difference.
Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, is erratic, reckless, coarse and utterly lacking in statesmanship. He has a less-than-solid grasp of policy issues and shows little interest in changing that. His candidacy has alarmed conservative U.S. leaders and America’s global allies alike.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, lacks candor, oozes a sense of entitlement and has demonstrated stunning carelessness in the handling of classified information.
Both have enough skeletons in their closets to supply the props for a horror movie.
Many voters have looked toward third options, especially the Libertarian in the race, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. He has polled in the 7 percent range — a respectable number, and one that could ultimately push Trump or Clinton over the top, depending on which way the disaffected middle turns.
But, among other concerns, we find his grasp of international issues lacking, a shocking knowledge void for a presidential candidate from a border state. Yet some will choose him anyway as a protest vote, essentially relinquishing their voice on everything from future U.S. Supreme Court nominees to health care.
Who to choose, then?
Each voter’s earnest analysis, reflection and pragmatism will reveal the candidate, warts and all, best suited to serve. And you know the saying: If you don’t vote, don’t complain.
Consider, too, that the down-ballot is lengthy and important. With 17 statewide propositions and three huge, local school bond measures coming before voters, as well as races for the 21st and 23rd congressional districts, Bakersfield mayor, and three Bakersfield City Council seats, there’s a lot to decide.
Staying home because the top-of-ballot choices fail to inspire is akin to ceding one’s vote on significant pocketbook issues to others.
The Californian got out of the presidential endorsement business in 2012, when, for the first time in our history, we did not make a recommendation. That was the race between incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Many newspapers have done the same in recent years.
This time, the party lines are blurred, with a Democratic candidate who sounds like Ronald Reagan when the subject is Russia and a Republican candidate who expresses views on international military cooperation and trade that run counter to previous Republican positions.
But then Trump himself has reminded voters, more than once, that he is the candidate of what “is called the Republican Party, it’s not called the Conservative Party.” And Clinton has alienated her party’s liberal wing by cozying up to Wall Street — so much so she may have trouble bringing supporters of her vanquished primary foe, Bernie Sanders, into her tent.
This is not your father’s Democratic Party and most certainly not your mother’s Republican Party.
In 2012, as now, the nation’s voters were firmly divided. And, with the proliferation of news coverage, there was hardly an American alive who had not already made up his or her mind. Nothing we could recommend would have added significantly to the public discourse.
The newspaper’s editorial board members decided to focus their attention, analysis and recommendations on local political races, local ballot measures and the many statewide initiatives. That’s what we’ve done again.
As long as voters are weighing in on local political races, local ballot measures and the many statewide initiatives, however, they might as well pause at the top of the ballot.
And pick someone.