Since 2004, I have published political endorsements (and occasional non-endorsements) here on Off on a Tangent for every general and special election in which I have been eligible to vote. These have been long-form, in-depth articles that feature a complete overview of the candidates or issues of the race and a detailed explanation of what choices I endorse and why. These endorsement articles will continue as before.

But beginning this year, I will be expanding my political coverage to include brief “recommendations” in races and elections beyond my typical endorsement scope.

First, I will begin offering recommendations in a number of major party primaries and caucuses in Virginia.

I am not a member of any political party, so I will continue my practice of not actually voting in these races. I believe that the purpose of a party’s primary is for members of that party to choose who will represent them on the general election ballot. I have an interest in who wins, yes, but it’s not my place to vote for the representatives of a private organization I don’t belong to (even if Virginia’s dumb open primary system allows me to do so).

Outsiders like myself are, however, entitled to have opinions about what the members of the parties should do . . . and are entitled to express those opinions. So, starting this year, I will be offering brief recommendations in all contested major party primary and caucus races for local races in Loudoun County, Virginia, and for all state- and federal-level races held in Virginia. I define major parties according to the criteria in section 10.70 of the Tangent Style Guide.

I will also be offering recommendations in a similar set of general and special elections. These will also apply to contested local races in Loudoun County, Virginia, and state- and federal-level races in Virginia, excluding (of course) those where I make my usual formal, long-form endorsement.

All of these recommendations will be published about one month before before their respective election dates. General election recommendations will be published around the same time as my typical endorsements.

There are a few reasons I am doing this.

First, in a free country everybody has a right to have opinions even about matters that are not directly within their political purview. So there. If you don’t think my opinions on these races matter, you are welcome to ignore them. That’s fine. But I have every right to express them, and I think it will be fun.

Second, as a citizen of Loudoun County, of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and of the United States of America, I am affected by the political decisions made by the voters in political party primaries and in districts other than my own. I have good reason to want them to make good choices. For this reason I considered making recommendations in all U.S. House and U.S. Senate races nationwide, but there are only so many hours in a year. Maybe someday.

Third, my state taxes pay for Democratic and Republican party primaries (but not for caucuses or ‘third-party’ primaries). I don’t know why this is the case, since political parties are private organizations and ought to have no official standing, but it is what it is. State taxes also fund all general and special elections across the commonwealth. My dollars come with my opinions. That seems fair.