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The New Yorker Endorses Hillary Clinton
The New Yorker Endorses Hillary Clinton
October 31, 2016 ISSUE
The election of Hillary Clinton is an event that we would welcome for its historical importance, and greet with indescribable relief.
By The Editors
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On November 8th, barring some astonishment, the people of the United States will, after two hundred and forty years, send a woman to the White House. The election of Hillary Clinton is an event that we will welcome for its immense historical importance, and greet with indescribable relief. It will be especially gratifying to have a woman as commander-in-chief after such a sickeningly sexist and racist campaign, one that exposed so starkly how far our society has to go. The vileness of her opponents rhetoric and his record has been so widely aired that we can only hope she will be able to use her office and her impressive resolve to battle prejudice wherever it may be found.
On every issue of consequence, including economic policy, the environment, and foreign affairs, Hillary Clinton is a distinctly capable candidate: experienced, serious, schooled, resilient. When the race began, Clinton, who has always been a better office-holder than a campaigner, might have anticipated a clash of ideas and personalities on the conventional scale, against, say, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. Instead, the Democratic nominee has ended up playing a sometimes secondary role in a squalid American epic. If she is elected, she will have weathered a prolonged battle against a trash-talking, burn-it-to-the-ground demagogue. Unfortunately, the drama is not likely to end soon. The aftereffects of this campaign may befoul our civic life for some time to come.
If the prospect of a female President represents a departure in the history of American politics, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump, the real-estate mogul and Republican nominee, does, tooa chilling one. He is manifestly unqualified and unfit for office. Trained in the arts of real-estate promotion and reality television, he exhibits scant interest in or familiarity with policy. He favors conspiracy theory and fantasy, deriving his knowledge from the darker recesses of the Internet and the shows. He has never held office or otherwise served his country, never acceded to the authority of competing visions and democratic resolutions.
Worse still, he does not accept the authority of constitutional republicanismits norms, its faiths and practices, its explicit rules and implicit understandings. That much is clear from his statements about targeting press freedoms, infringing on an independent judiciary, banning Muslim immigration, deporting undocumented immigrants without a fair hearing, reviving the practice of torture, and, in the third and final debate, his refusal to say that he will accept the outcome of the election. Trump has even threatened to prosecute and imprison his opponent. The American demagogues from the past century who most closely resemble himFather Coughlin and Senator Joseph McCarthy among themwere dangers to the republic, but they never captured the Presidential nomination of a major political party. Father Coughlin commanded a radio show and its audience. President Trump would command the armed forces of the United States, control its nuclear codes, appoint judges, propose legislation, and conduct foreign policy. It is a convention of our quadrennial pieties to insist that this election is singularly important. But Trump really does represent something singular. The prospect of such a Presidenterratic, empty, cruel, intolerant, and corruptrepresents a form of national emergency.
At a time of alarming and paralyzing partisanship, this is an issue that reasonable voices in both parties can agree upon. At last count, more than a hundred and sixty Republican leaders had declared their refusal to support Trump. Fifty national-security officials who served in Republican Administrations have done the same. The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Arizona Republic, the Dallas Morning News, and the Columbus Dispatchall conservative newspapers, which have endorsed only Republicans for between seventy-six and a hundred and twenty-six yearshave endorsed Clinton. USA Today, which has never endorsed a candidate, has declared Trump unfit for the presidency and has also endorsed Clinton.
Trump is an old American story and a very new onea familiar variety of charlatan blooming again in the age of social media. It wasnt so long ago that he was a fixture of the local tabloids (Best Sex Ive Ever Had), with a sideline as a cartoon tyrant on The Apprentice. Then, beginning in 2011, came the bigotry of his attempt to delegitimize the Obama Presidency through voluble support of the birther theory. Yet his propensities have long been apparent. More than forty years ago, the Justice Department filed a civil-rights case against Trump and his father for discriminatory housing practices; the Trumps hired Roy Cohn, a former aide to Joseph McCarthy, to defend them. In 1989, Trump took out a full-page ad in the News implicitly calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, four African-Americans and a Latino who were then fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen years old, and stood accused of rape and assault. They were convicted and imprisoned, and when, years later, they were exonerated on the basis of DNA evidence, Trump continued to insist on their guilt, as he did just a couple of weeks ago. That statement might have garnered more attention had he not made it a day before the disclosure of a 2005 Access Hollywood video, in which he spoke, in graphic terms, of his own predilection for sexual assault and the impunity that celebrity confers. It is not merely narcissism that leads him to speak about grabbing womens genitals or to endorse the Lock Her Up! chants directed at his opponent. It is his temperamental authoritarianisma trait echoed in his admiration of Vladimir Putin.
The consistencies of Trumps character are matched by the inconsistencies of his policy positions. Every politician is allowed to change his or her mind, but Trump abuses the privilege. His reversals on issues as fundamental as first-strike nuclear policy and our obligations to nato reflect not so much a thought process as the blunderings of ignorance. He was once pro-choice; more recently, he has suggested that women who get abortions should be punished. His role models, too, change with circumstance. Ronald Reagan, he once wrote, could con people but couldnt deliver the goods. Now Reagan heads the list of the Presidents he admires most. Asked just last year to name the best of the previous four Presidents, Trump chose Bill Clinton, having once lauded him as a great President. Now Clinton, like his wife, is a criminal. Three years ago, Trump remarked of Hillary Clintons work as Secretary of State that she was probably above and beyond everybody else; now, of course, her term was a total disaster.
The combination of free-form opportunism, heroic self-regard, blithe contempt for expertise, and an airy sense of infallibility has contributed to Trumps profound estrangement from the truth. He said that he saw thousands and thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the attacks of 9/11. When he was told that this never happened, he repeated the claim, mocked the disabled reporter who exposed ita grotesque antic captured on videoand then denied having done so. He maintained that he saw a picture of Ted Cruzs father having breakfast with Lee Harvey Oswald; no such picture exists. He boasted of conversations with Putin that never occurred; he said that Putin had not invaded Ukraine. He described climate change as a Chinese-perpetrated hoax, then said that he hadnt. Day and night, Trump assembles and distributes these murky innuendos and outright lies through his Twitter account.
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