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Endorsement Madness

March 28, 2008

It is clear we are in the midst of political campaign season (right in the middle of the NCAA Tournament and the start of baseball season).  As one party’s race is far from decided, there’s news almost every day from the campaign trail.

For instance, almost daily, there’ll be media mention of endorsements of particular candidates. Today, we learn that Senator Bob Casey is endorsing Barack Obama for President. Earlier in the political season, Governor Ed Rendell and Mayor Michael Nutter pledged their support behind Hillary Clinton.  Not to be outdone, former First Lady Nancy Reagan just recently endorsed John McCain, instead of her fellow former First Lady. Democrat-turned-Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman also “crossed the aisle” to support McCain.

Endorsements have long been part of the political process.  “If a candidate is good enough for such-and-such political leader or celebrity, then he or she should be good enough for me,” the thinking goes.  The real question is do endorsements really matter to the individual voter?  While endorsements by a city or state’s top executive can help facilitate campaign events in those areas, and while union endorsements can sometimes provide “manpower” on Election Day, it ultimately still comes down to how an individual voter decides.

Even in Philadelphia, perhaps the ultimate union town, endorsements by unions have limited effect on the individual voter.  Before winning last year’s Democratic Primary, Nutter had the grand total of one union endorsement: Local 835 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.  People still decide to select a candidate on their own.  And that trend is somewhat refreshing.

The moral of the story: vote for the individual candidate and not because of who else supports or does not support him or her.  Who an athlete or celebrity or singer supports is good for them, but I still want to decide for myself.

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