Today I learned that The Miami Herald endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. That fact might not inspire much of a reaction among readers of this blog, but it is important to me because that it is the newspaper on whose staff I served for 10 years in the late 1960s and through most of the ’70s.
I covered plenty of local and state elections and campaigns in those days, but for the most part, my responsibilities included beats other than national politics. That changed in the summer of 1972, when the Republican National Convention descended on Miami Beach and nominated Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, and I was among several reporters assigned to help beef up The Herald’s coverage. The party was in our back yard, after all.
Assigned to poll several prominent delegates about their choices for vice presidential candidate, I happened onto a clandestine meeting organized by Sen. Strom Thurmond at the posh Fontainebleau Hotel. He was offering to deliver the South into Nixon’s camp if Agnew, his choice for vice president, was on the ticket. Important story, and as word of the deal-making spread, a crush of reporters and camera operators assembled outside the meeting room door. As we know, Agnew was the VP choice, and Thurmond got his wish.
But I digress. This blog is about endorsements.
So far, 415 newspapers have endorsed Hillary Clinton; 8 have endorsed Donald Trump. Significantly, several major newspapers that either have never endorsed a Democrat or haven’t done so in many decades have joined the Clinton chorus, shocking their loyal readers and prompting strong negative reactions, including death threats. Here are a few highlights of what The Miami Herald’s editorial board said in its endorsement today:
“It is not about choosing between a bad candidate and a worse one. The narrative that Hillary Clinton is the lesser of two evils is patently wrong. Ms. Clinton is a pragmatic, tough-minded woman of accomplishment and political conviction with a demonstrated mastery of policy. She is politically flawed. However, Donald Trump is a damaged human being.”
The Herald adds that it’s important for Americans to understand what this election is about: “most starkly, our values, our national identity and even the enduring power of the Constitution are in question — and at stake. Most simply, Americans will define just who we are.”
The Herald said it better than I could have. Some argue that newspapers should not endorse candidates, but I believe that it is an important part of a newspaper’s responsibilities to its readers. Its staffs have followed the candidates and their campaigns closely for several weeks and are therefore better informed than most of us. Using that knowledge, editorial boards thoughtfully consider the candidates and issues at length before making their endorsements.
Today’s word: A common punctuation error — the comma splice. Two independent clauses (complete sentences) separated by a comma. Examples: Tom is going to meet me at school, I’d better get going. Use a period, not a comma to separate the two independent clauses.