Because The Atlantic's Voting Clinton, You Should, Too.
I am not a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Up until recently I would’ve been more aptly classified as an undecided voter. Like a good portion of Americans, neither Trump nor Clinton impressed me. Nevertheless, I was open to the idea of either becoming the 45th President of our United States. And yet, after the first debate, I found myself in the same boat as a large number of undecideds: leaning leftward. Trump’s rhetoric had grown old and redundant, his “common man charm” (if one can even call it that) had worn off, and his ignorance of the specifics of governing had become altogether alarming.
For me, the hammer that pounded the final nail into Mr. Trump’s coffin was The Atlantic’s endorsement of Secretary Clinton on October 5th. While some would say the magazine skews left, The Atlantic has never had any true party affiliation. In fact, the magazine’s original mission statement, published in 1857, clearly states that “The Atlantic will be the organ of no party or clique,” but instead seeks to expound upon “the American idea.” While the language used here by the founding editors is vague, it can generally be agreed upon that “the American idea” constitutes an unshakeable faith in equality, in freedom, in expanding national and human horizons, and in preserving the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All these ideals are things that any good, rational American citizen would support, and The Atlantic recognizes that, except for in extreme cases (like the current election), the vast majority of American presidential candidates, whether ultimately winners or losers, respect and also share a passion for expounding upon “the American idea.” This is likely why, before October 5th, The Atlantic had previously endorsed only two candidates for president in its 158 year history. Only twice before its recent endorsement of Secretary Clinton did the magazine feel that a candidate so superiorly demonstrated political gravitas and exceptional capacity to lead our nation through a time of profound uncertainty that an endorsement was deemed necessary by the magazine’s editors.
The first of these endorsements went to Abraham Lincoln, who the magazine’s editor at the time, James Russell Lowell, heralded for his integrity and experience. Lincoln prevented the dissolution of our nation, played an indispensable role in advancing America towards the abolition of slavery, and is nearly unanimously regarded as one of (if not the) greatest presidents in our history.
The Atlantic’s second Presidential endorsement did not come until editor Edward Weeks declared the publication’s support for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. While Johnson’s legacy as president is certainly more controversial and disputed than Lincoln’s, the deciding factor for The Atlantic’s endorsement was not what President Johnson offered the American people, but rather what his opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater, did not. In the magazine’s endorsement statement, Weeks attacked Goldwater for his factionalist tendencies and remarkably poor judgement, citing Goldwater’s proposal to put nuclear weapons in the hands of field commanders, his preference to let southern states enforce their own civil rights policies, and his threat to leave the United Nations as reasons why the senator was utterly unfit to become the leader of the free world.
The Atlantic nailed their first two endorsements. Many would agree that Lincoln and Johnson, while not equivalent to one another, were great, and in Lincoln’s case extraordinary, presidents. One cannot rationally argue that their opposition offered more to America during their respective elections. Neither Stephen Douglas nor Barry Goldwater were suited for the office of the President. Simply put, The Atlantic does not does it miss its mark when it makes its rare presidential endorsements.
This is why their endorsement of Hillary Clinton is so important.
Furthermore, it is important to note that, while technically this decision offers official support for Secretary Clinton, the language of the endorsement is more blatantly a denunciation of Donald Trump. Clinton’s endorsement is strikingly similar to Lyndon B. Johnson’s, in that it is much less one of outright support than it is of disgusted condemnation of the chosen candidate’s opponent. To this point, the very title of the statement is “Against Trump,” and while the subtitle does read, “the case for Hillary Clinton,” the link to the article clearly states, “Don’t Vote for Trump.”
Don’t Vote for Trump.
This is more than just a profound statement: The Atlantic’s endorsement is a desperate plea. Only a mere paragraph of the statement refers to Secretary Clinton’s qualifications to govern and her deep understanding of politics. The closing four paragraphs, on the other hand, all focus directly on the weaknesses, and more importantly the dangers, of Clinton’s opponent. The Atlantic likens Trump to “an infomercial huckster” and denounces him as “erratic, secretive, and xenophobic.” Summatively, Trump is “spectacularly unfit for office.”
It is essential to note that The Atlantic steered clear of offering unwarranted praise for Clinton, and it did not attack Trump’s supporters as Secretary Clinton did earlier this election cycle. Rather than risk putting a man who is “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar” in office, though, the publication ultimately decided to back a candidate who herself is far from perfect.
A vote for Trump is playing with fire. Yes, his “tell it how it is” attitude seems appealing (even though this is often the opposite of what he does). Yes, he is a political outsider, which many Americans long for. Yes, he claims he can “make America great again”--Trump’s nationwide appeal certainly has some base.
He is not, however, the candidate who should be elected in November. He cannot be the candidate who is elected in November. While everyone should form their own opinions regarding the two frontrunner candidates, an endorsement of Hillary Clinton by a magazine such as The Atlantic is simply too much to overlook. This is no trivial endorsement backed in media bias or accompanied by donations. This is a legitimate cry for undecided voters everywhere to rise above the hateful, ignorant rhetoric that Trump spews to elect the candidate who is wholly more qualified for the job of our president. This November, don’t vote for Trump.
Be smarter than that.
(Overhead photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty)