Traditionally, New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is the beginning of the quadrennial bout of partisan fever in the nation. But since presidential campaigns now begin a year or two before this milestone, it can be fairly stated that we are now in the homestretch of the long march to decide the two major-party nominees for chief executive.
New Hampshire and Iowa have, as usual, provided their own scripts to counter the scenarios that most pundits believed to be the likely outcomes of the races. Though this newspaper goes to press before the outcome in New Hampshire is known, it would appear that, at least for the moment, the two candidates that repeated polls said most American Jews favored -- U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York for the Democrats and former New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani for the Republicans -- are in trouble.
What these early results will mean in the long run remains unknown. But there's no doubt that the uncertainty about the winners -- and the rise of a charismatic candidate like the new Democratic front-runner Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois -- will mean that interest in the races will grow. And with it will come, like it or not, a commensurate increase in the partisan fever engendered by competitive elections.
The last few years have witnessed a breakdown in civility in American politics. The neck-in-neck presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 have brought us to one of the most partisan moments in this nation's history. That means it is an apt moment to remind everyone of a few plain, yet pertinent, facts.
Though this paper will continue to publish articles and opinion pieces that provide commentary on the election and the issues driving it, we take no sides among the parties or candidates.
And for the record, the Jewish Exponent officially endorses no candidates in the primaries or in the general election. The newspaper will strive at all times to ensure that its coverage, while pointed and focused on the issues, plays no favorites on the news pages.
Restating this position -- and faithfully sticking to it in the months ahead -- will not stop partisans of all stripes from parsing each headline, story or even photographs to discern some evidence of bias. But readers should understand that such accusations will have a lot more to do with the motives of the partisans than any agenda pursued by the paper.
Our interest, as well as that of the Jewish community as a whole, should be focused on the facts on the ground, not the individual candidates or parties. The point here is that no single politician or political party can or should be regarded as the sole guardian of Jewish interests. When it comes to the great divide between Democrats and Republicans -- though it cannot be denied that the majority of the community tends to favor the former in the voting booth -- it must be remembered that Jews and the State of Israel have friends, as well as foes, on both sides of the aisle.
While we believe that all candidates and both major parties can and must be held accountable for their positions and actions, the notion that either can be written off is fallacious, as well as a strategic mistake. It would also be an injustice to the many friends Jews and Israel have throughout the political spectrum.
Our goal in the coming year of election coverage and commentary will be to highlight substantive issues pertinent to Jewish voters, such as stands on foreign policy, Israel and the threat from its Islamist foes, in addition to domestic concerns like immigration rights, the economy and social-justice work.
Our hope is that reporting on these topics will reinforce, at the very least, a consensus in favor of support for Israel and other Jewish causes, and not to heighten partisan passions.