First newspapers, and now magazines: The Atlantic continues the trend of unusual and unprecedented presidential endorsements with just the third in its 159-year history, of Hillary Clinton for president of the United States.
The first came just a few years after its founding, and it was for Abraham Lincoln, a no brainer for a magazine established, in part, with an abolitionist mission. The next would come more than a century later, when the magazine endorsed Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
Like its endorsement of Hillary Clinton, all happened in October, but the Atlantic editors note that the reasons for endorsing Clinton are most similar to those that led it to endorse Johnson. “We are impressed by many of the qualities of the Democratic Party’s nominee for president,” they write, “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.” Hence the headline.
Far from its only criticism of Donald Trump, the editors continue:
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.
Had anyone else been the Republican nominee, there would have been no endorsement; the editors would have continued to hew to tradition embedded in the magazine’s founding statement, which declares the Atlantic “the organ of no party or clique.” But for the editors, Trump represents a problem that exists outside the Republican/Democrat divide.
“We have historically only endorsed a president when we felt that the stakes had been elevated to a true national emergency, or an existential threat to the republic,” explained magazine editor Scott Stossel in a statement. “We believe that the election of Donald Trump poses such a threat, which is why we’ve decided to endorse Hillary Clinton.”