The 6th District congressional race comes down to three candidates who have pledged to do something other than march in lockstep with the two established parties in order to get a hopelessly gridlocked Congress moving.

Republican Richard Tisei, Democrat Seth Moulton and independent Chris Stockwell all promise to reach across party lines to help create a moderate middle.

All three share common ground on most major issues. A woman’s right to control her body. Same-sex-marriage rights. Equal pay for women. Gun safety legislation — brought back into focus with the school shootings in Washington state last weekend.

The candidates seem to have more shared positions than differences on these major issues, although Stockwell, suggests another route: departing from the two-party system altogether. We appreciate the spirit and earnestness of his position but do not believe that's the best path.

Hear Tisei and Moulton talk about the corporate tax rate and how it affects small businesses in the 6th District, and it’s almost like hearing the same candidate speak. In a break from standard Democratic doctrine, Moulton agrees with Tisei on the need to cut the 35 percent U.S. corporate tax rate. And, in a break from his party’s policies, Tisei agrees with Moulton on the need to cut tax loopholes that benefit huge corporations, but remain out of reach for the small- and medium-sized businesses in the 6th.

Moulton and Tisei agree the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — is beyond repeal and they both seek changes to improve, rather than destroy, the law that has expanded health insurance to more than 7 million Americans.

The healthcare debate did reveal one major difference between the two, over Union Hospital in Lynn.

Both oppose plans to close the hospital. However, Tisei sees no connection between health-insurance coverage and keeping Union open, calling it a “local issue.”

Moulton makes an immediate link between keeping the hospital open and patients with some means to pay their bills via health-insurance coverage.

Our endorsement, then, largely hinges on which candidate could best effect compromise and promote cross-party negotiation. That person is Seth Moulton.

His experience as a decorated U.S. Marine who served four tours in Iraq, including working directly under Gen. David Petraeus in his fourth tour, and his alignment with his party’s core values give Moulton both the cachet and political base to best fulfill his promise of — and meet the nation’s need for — compromise in Congress.

Tisei himself notes the Republicans have taken “a wrong turn.”

Yet the GOP has shown little interest in being redirected. When right-wing organizations attacked Tisei for being a gay, married man and opposed his election, it would have been a great opportunity for the Republicans to reach beyond the party’s far-right base.

Instead, the GOP said nothing.

Moulton has noted Tisei, despite his experience as state Senate minority leader, couldn’t even change the Massachusetts Republican Party platform.

It comes down to this: To achieve his goals, Tisei needs to break with his party’s root base, while lining up with Republican branch policies. Moulton, on the other hand, remains secure with his party’s root values, seeking to break away at the branches. He faces no such break with the Democratic base.

Moulton can tick off at least half a dozen names from both parties that he would join with to help form a moderate core in the House. Rather than working in isolation from his party – as Tisei would have to do – Moulton would work from a position of strength within his.

In the military, Moulton worked with men and women from across the country and from many cultural and economic backgrounds, and when tough foreign-policy issues arise, his would be a moderating voice in the din that would be difficult, if not impossible, to ignore.

Moulton has earned our endorsement and deserves your vote.