Vote for those present

OK, can we talk about the election now? In January, Nevada will have party caucuses, so for you people who aren’t paying attention, lift yourself out of your dreams of the upcoming American Idol season and Super Bowl tournament. It’s just for a month or so, and then you can put your head back down until after summer.

If you’re a registered Democrat or Republican, you’ll be able to help decide who gets to run for president. If you’re like many of us at the RN&R, you don’t have an affiliation, so your voice is mute in this pre-election election, but you should know what’s going on.

Anyway, you can read this week’s cover story, “Where they stand,” on page 15, to discover where the Democratic candidates stand on particular Western issues. You’ll be able to discover where the Republican candidates stand on similar issues in our Dec. 20 issue.

This stuff is important. As you may have noticed these last eight years, the president’s policies, set way out there in Washington, D.C., can have a significant impact on your life. Think your ability to buy or sell a home doesn’t have a direct relationship to the president’s misguided war on Iraq? Think your ability to take a vacation in Europe hasn’t been impacted by the falling value of the dollar? And it goes the other way, too. Think about all the policies this president has promoted that have helped you personally now and in the future.

Now, we don’t have an overblown sense of our importance as a newspaper in the national scope of things. We’re at least a rung below the Washington Post, anyway. But how many times have you heard politicians complain that nobody covers the issues, they only cover politics like a horserace? If you’re in this business, about a quajillion times a year.

Anyway, here’s the point we’re trying to make: Every one of the Democratic candidates were offered the opportunity to respond to these “issue” questions. Three—Dennis Kucinich, Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden—chose not to speak directly to voters (and our readers) about some of the most impactful issues of the next five years. Two Republicans, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, have declined to participate in our planned article on GOP candidates’ issue stands.

And, you know what? Maybe that’s a good policy strategy. Don’t tell too many people too much about the reasons you should be president. Because if you only talk about national and world issues that concern you, instead of issues concerning local voters, maybe they won’t notice that you’re clueless, out of touch.

As far as we’re concerned, that’s a mistake. This edition is the most in-depth coverage of some of these matters that some Northern Nevada voters will read before the caucus. It’s no stretch of the imagination that some people will carry this newspaper to the caucuses.

Bottom line: The election is a year away. If a candidate chose not to speak to you now, didn’t have the consideration for you as an individual voter, please put your time and effort into one of the people who did. Because we don’t know why these other people are running, but we do know they’re not running out of concern about our shared future.