Election day is less than a month away and Thursday night we will be sponsoring a candidate forum for the plethora of local candidates vying for office.

Predictably, the endorsement editorials are beginning.

I find this insufferably arrogant.

As a journalist I am, arguably, better informed than most. Politics is part and parcel of my work, and hence my life.

However, no matter how well informed I might be, it’s arrogant in the extreme for me to condescend to anyone to tell them how they should vote.

The sovereign franchise — the vote — is the most precious freedom we have. That privilege, that responsibility, to look deep within yourself and your beliefs. To struggle with your conscience to determine which candidate deserves to be given your small slice of power for the next term — this is intensely personal — and should not be determined by what some editorial board decides.

I have my own beliefs of course — and no one who has ever read my column has any doubt about where my personal politics lie. But, and here’s the key, within the pages of this column I may attempt to persuade. I will lay out what I believe to be the case. I will not and never have said “you must vote for candidate x because I said so.”

Which is what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has said in their latest editorial.

The final paragraphs, loaded with demagoguery are telling:

“If more Americans were paying attention, this election would not be close. Barack Obama would win going away, at least 53 to 47, perhaps even 99 to 1.

“But the atmosphere has been polluted by lies, distortion, voter suppression and spending by desperate plutocrats who see the nation’s changing demographics and fear that their time is almost up. They’ve had the help of a partisan Supreme Court.

“The question for voters is actually very simple. The nation has wrestled with it since its founding: Will this be government for the many or the few?

“Choose the many. Choose Barack Obama.”

I won’t get into all of the misstatements here, a proper rebuttal would take hours and room we simply do not have in print, and would be exactly what I have said we will not do — tell you how to vote.

But to suggest that the American people are not paying attention, or are simply stupid, as this editorial does, belies an ego of Brobdingnagian proportion at the Post-Dispatch’s editorial board.

I suggest that the American people have been paying attention all along. I suggest that, on the whole, they are the brightest and best informed electorate in the world. I suggest that they will make a decision for good or ill based on their own understanding of the facts of this election year — and in the privacy of their own consciences.

It is not for we, the fourth estate, unelected and no better educated than the average American to tell you how you should vote.

Here at the CCNA we all have our own opinions. We will all be happy to tell you what they are if you ask.

But regardless of any personal feelings one way or the other, as a news organization, we will neither endorse nor oppose any candidate of any party whatsoever.

That’s for the voters to decide. And we are not so arrogant, so superior, as to insist we know better than those voters what is on their hearts and in their consciences.

All IMHO, of course.

(Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the CCNA. He can be emailed at pat.richardson@sekvoice.com.)