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At their best, our 2004 endorsements take a stand, but invite readers to agree or disagree with their reasoning

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Obsessing over this column, as I do every week, I found myself thinking about the Statesman's endorsement of George W. Bush for president. This campaign season, I found the Statesman's endorsements unusually strong (probably because I agree with them), but was neither surprised nor upset by their choice of Bush. I was thinking of chiding those who canceled their subscriptions in response, because economic retaliation against philosophical decisions seems a bad idea (What if they had endorsed Kerry, and Republicans had responded in kind? What of the overreaction to the Dixie Chicks?). The mitigating factor is that, when reading the AA-S endorsement, one feels a pro-Kerry/anti-Bush sentiment yearning to be free. It feels as though the powers that be dictated a decision to the editorial board.

In this context, I considered our endorsements. The best of them, though supporting a candidate or issue, provide our reasoning in such a way as to invite the reader to agree or disagree. I was feeling good about this until I realized we printed the most complete version only once, the week that early voting began. After that, you either saved that issue or had to go online to read more than a list of our endorsements. The many wonderful insights I had planned on offering this week paled. Instead, we are running The Austin Chronicle editorial board's endorsements in full.

One quick note on commuter rail: Ignore the numbers and projections for the next couple of decades. Rail works when the alternative is gridlock, and succeeds because of convenience, not ideology. Sooner rather than later, it will be impossible to get around in central Austin. If, as anti-rail activist Jim Skaggs believes will be the case, effective alternative means of mass transit are developed by then, rail will be abandoned. But if not, when gridlock is the norm and the costs of then building a mass transit system beyond prohibitive, Capital Metro's vision will prove to have been prescient rather than utopian. It seems to me that, rather than gambling on the deus ex machina of new technologies, this is the best way to serve our community into the next century. end story

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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2004 election, endorsements, George W. Bush, John Kerry, commuter rail, Capital Metro, Jim Skaggs

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