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Note from the editor: Our series on values and the campaign

December 10, 2007 |  2:24 pm

Today, The Times’ editorial board begins its look at the issues in the campaign for president, and we do so by framing that debate against the values and ideas that shape the nation. For those interested in where we’re headed with this and how we arrived at the values we have chosen to highlight, a word of explanation.

Each of the editorials aims to examine an issue or set of issues by considering contemporary questions in the context of longstanding American principles. Thus, today’s editorial begins with the question of how to form "a more perfect union." That phrase comes, of course, from the United States Constitution, which begins with the words: "We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…."

But, as the editorial explains, the idea behind that phrase — of a land and people in constant search of perfecting themselves — is more ancient even than the United States. It is as relevant today as it was in the forming of the Republic.

As we present the rest of this series, the remaining editorials will seek to accomplish the same mission — that is, to explore the fundamental ideas of American society and to evaluate the candidates in terms of how they address and live up to, or fall short of, these founding notions. Coming editorials will discuss "Life," "Liberty," "Justice," "The Powers of the Earth," "The Pursuit of Happiness," "The General Welfare," "Domestic Tranquility" and "The Common Defense." It will conclude later this month with a final piece, entitled, "The Blessings of Liberty." If those topics seem familiar, they should: All are drawn from the language of America’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

We hope these pieces will provide helpful insight into the campaign and provoke some thought about how our modern politics grows out of our history. Once we’ve concluded this work, the editorial board will turn to the next item on our political agenda, the endorsement of candidates for president. Our endorsements, which we will make early next year, will mark the first such appraisals of presidential candidates by this board since 1972, when we supported Richard Nixon — and went on to regret it.

More on why we have decided to re-enter the realm of presidential endorsements later. For now, we hope you enjoy and appreciate the series.

We also urge you to take the time to respond to these pieces. We welcome your letters, as always, along with your submissions to our Op-Ed page. And we have established a message board specifically for these editorials. Please give us an earful. We’re in the opinion business, and are eager to hear yours.

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