Against Donald Trump–The Atlantic Magazine

October 7, 2016

Against Donald Trump

For the third time since The Atlantic’s founding, the editors endorse a candidate for president. The case for Hillary Clinton.


Hillary Clinton is good for America and the World–She has what it takes to be POTUS

In October of 1860, James Russell Lowell, the founding editor of The Atlantic, warned in these pages about the perishability of the great American democratic experiment if citizens (at the time, white, male citizens) were to cease taking seriously their franchise:

In a society like ours, where every man may transmute his private thought into history and destiny by dropping it into the ballot-box, a peculiar responsibility rests upon the individual … For, though during its term of office the government be practically as independent of the popular will as that of Russia, yet every fourth year the people are called upon to pronounce upon the conduct of their affairs. Theoretically, at least, to give democracy any standing-ground for an argument with despotism or oligarchy, a majority of the men composing it should be statesmen and thinkers.

One of the animating causes of this magazine at its founding, in 1857, was the abolition of slavery, and Lowell argued that the Republican Party, and the man who was its standard-bearer in 1860, represented the only reasonable pathway out of the existential crisis then facing the country. In his endorsement of Abraham Lincoln for president, Lowell wrote, on behalf of the magazine, “It is in a moral aversion to slavery as a great wrong that the chief strength of the Republican party lies.” He went on to declare that Abraham Lincoln “had experience enough in public affairs to make him a statesman, and not enough to make him a politician.”

Perhaps because no subsequent candidate for the presidency was seen as Lincoln’s match, or perhaps because the stakes in ensuing elections were judged to be not quite so high as they were in 1860, it would be 104 years before The Atlantic would again make a presidential endorsement. In October of 1964, Edward Weeks, writing on behalf of the magazine, cited Lowell’s words before making an argument for the election of Lyndon B. Johnson. “We admire the President for the continuity with which he has maintained our foreign policy, a policy which became a worldwide responsibility at the time of the Marshall Plan,” the endorsement read. Johnson, The Atlantic believed, would bring “to the vexed problem of civil rights a power of conciliation which will prevent us from stumbling down the road taken by South Africa.”

Image result for Lyndon Johnson and Abrahim Lincoln

The Atlantic has endorsed only three presidential candidates in 159 years. Abraham Lincoln (1860) and Lyndon B. Johnson (1964) were the first two. (Alexander Gardner / Getty; ullstein bild / Getty)

But The Atlantic’s endorsement of Johnson was focused less on his positive attributes than on the flaws of his opponent, Barry Goldwater, the junior senator from Arizona. Of Goldwater, Weeks wrote, “His proposal to let field commanders have their choice of the smaller nuclear weapons would rupture a fundamental belief that has existed from Abraham Lincoln to today: the belief that in times of crisis the civilian authority must have control over the military.” And the magazine noted that Goldwater’s “preference to let states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia enforce civil rights within their own borders has attracted the allegiance of Governor George Wallace, the Ku Klux Klan, and the John Birchers.” Goldwater’s limited capacity for prudence and reasonableness was what particularly worried The Atlantic.

We think it unfortunate that Barry Goldwater takes criticism as a personal affront; we think it poisonous when his anger betrays him into denouncing what he calls the “radical” press by bracketing the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Izvestia. There speaks not the reason of the Southwest but the voice of Joseph McCarthy. We do not impugn Senator Goldwater’s honesty. We sincerely distrust his factionalism and his capacity for judgment.

Today, our position is similar to the one in which The Atlantic’s editors found themselves in 1964. We are impressed by many of the qualities of the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by others, but we are mainly concerned with the Republican Party’s nominee, Donald J. Trump, who might be the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.

These concerns compel us, for the third time since the magazine’s founding, to endorse a candidate for president. Hillary Rodham Clinton has more than earned, through her service to the country as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as secretary of state, the right to be taken seriously as a White House contender. She has flaws (some legitimately troubling, some exaggerated by her opponents), but she is among the most prepared candidates ever to seek the presidency. We are confident that she understands the role of the United States in the world; we have no doubt that she will apply herself assiduously to the problems confronting this country; and she has demonstrated an aptitude for analysis and hard work.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.

From Our November 2016 Issue

This judgment is not limited to the editors of The Atlantic. A large number—in fact, a number unparalleled since Goldwater’s 1964 campaign—of prominent policy makers and officeholders from the candidate’s own party have publicly renounced him. Trump disqualified himself from public service long before he declared his presidential candidacy. In one of the more sordid episodes in modern American politics, Trump made himself the face of the so-called birther movement, which had as its immediate goal the demonization of the country’s first African-American president. Trump’s larger goal, it seemed, was to stoke fear among white Americans of dark-skinned foreigners. He succeeded wildly in this; the fear he has aroused has brought him one step away from the presidency.

Our endorsement of Clinton, and rejection of Trump, is not a blanket dismissal of the many Trump supporters who are motivated by legitimate anxieties about their future and their place in the American economy. But Trump has seized on these anxieties and inflamed and racialized them, without proposing realistic policies to address them.

In its founding statement, The Atlantic promised that it would be “the organ of no party or clique,” and our interest here is not to advance the prospects of the Democratic Party, nor to damage those of the Republican Party. If Hillary Clinton were facing Mitt Romney, or John McCain, or George W. Bush, or, for that matter, any of the leading candidates Trump vanquished in the Republican primaries, we would not have contemplated making this endorsement. We believe in American democracy, in which individuals from various parties of different ideological stripes can advance their ideas and compete for the affection of voters. But Trump is not a man of ideas. He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar. He is spectacularly unfit for office, and voters—the statesmen and thinkers of the ballot box—should act in defense of American democracy and elect his opponent.


9 thoughts on “Against Donald Trump–The Atlantic Magazine

  1. Hillary is leading in the polls. The second debate is only two days away. Enjoy Trump the clown. He will lose the plot again. Let us hope American voters will be able to decide that Hillary is the POTUS come November 8, 2016.

    The influential Atlantic Magazine’s Against Donald Trump statement makes a convincing statement that Hillary should be the next American President.–Din Merican

  2. I wonder if Hillary still thinking to drone Julian Assange. A Trump in the White House sends shivers down the spine and turns the stomach of many a voter; but to have a Clinton there, redux of corruption, calamity and mistakes, would also shock the sensible and enrage the conscionable.

  3. …yes, which means that US voters are not being given a real choice… lesser of two evils is not a good form of choosing a leader…

    It is said that never have ratings of either candidate been so negative as now… open the debate so people like Dr.Jill Stein can face the nation and the picture will change…as will prospects of real vhange…

  4. I do not care for both candidate. If I were to vote this year, it would be to Gary Johnson. There is not even a discussion on the most critical issue – entitlement and infrastructure.

    Trump should be rejected not because he has a loud mouth, sexist, racist, i.e, Hilllary Clinton calls them deplorables. But because his track record is bad. His success is based on gaming the system, and over-salesmanship that depends in part on luck. The issues that confront US cannot be gamed to success, over-sold and luck is a fickle mistress. A Trump presidency would leave a trail of mess to clean up like he did with many business, partners, employees and customers.

  5. Re the Atlantic’s endorsements of presidential candidates. From Lincoln to Johnson to Hillary – if you ever need an indication of the downward trend in US presidential politics, this is it.

  6. LaMoy ! Missing you😋 All of California proposition is more headache for me than figuring out who to choose as President. It matters little for who I vote for President.

    It is strange that the whole world is watching our debate which is not a debate. It is entertainment😂

  7. katasayang:
    Nice of you to say that. I was away to India taking care of business. Horrible place, India.

    Vote your conscience. As for me, my conscience is telling me to abstain. Personally, I do not know Trump but I know what a rotten person Hillary is.

    More than any other single factor, the rise of Trump is attributable to the failed Obama presidency. It is wrong to suggest the Trump phenomenon is a Republican Frankenstein. Trump’s rise is mostly fueled by the extraordinary failure, uncertainty and fear wrought by the Obama presidency.

    Obama was elected because he was the “anti-Bush” candidate. Like it or not, Trump may quite likely be elected because he is the “anti-Obama” candidate. The pendulum swings both directions — pretty much how politics work in this country. Which is why you see the White House switch parties every 8 years. Of course, the followers of the party in the White House are always convinced their party will never lose again.

  8. “Horrible place, India.”

    Really ? As horrible as Wyoming ?

    The rise of Trump is hardly about he failure of the Obama regime which compared to other regimes has its far share of failures but not as bad as the mess it inherited, which is par for the course in American politics.

    The rise of Trump is about the failure of the GOP which for decades had nurtured an angry white subclass not to mention religious nutjobs and so called libertarians, which found expression in the nonsensical and racist teas party movement.

    This dissatisfaction with Washington’s business as usual politics is by no means a conservative phenomenon what with the brief rise of Sanders but the underlying hate of Hillary is the deep rooted misogyny in a certain segment of the American public.

    Indeed Hillary has done nothing many other male politicians have done and this whole “trust” issue is mind boggling considering how Trump lies with impunity and his followers do not seem to notice instead picking on the so called lies of Hillary.

    Just as there is a deep resentment about the “nigger in t he white house”, Trump adherents latch on to him because of the culture war that people like Steve Bannon – BigHollyood – his campaign adviser has stoked for years.

    Whether its building a wall or starting up another anti Putin block in Europe, dumb people will buy into while the deplorables who know better just think it would be vindication after being on the losing end of a nonexistent culture war.

    I consider my self conservative which is why I would not have a problem voting DNC since the GOP has long since buried its conservatism and started shilling its crypto racists wares.

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