This editorial has been at least a year in the making/ avoiding. And like a great many publications that regard the phrase “presidential endorsement” as an utter anomaly, we came to it with a hand-wringing bout of conscience. But, to paraphrase the words that any writer who first puts fingers to keys knows well, Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their country.
Which brings us inexorably to DonaldTrump, whose attacks on the election process, his opponent, his sexual assault/ harassment accusers, the once-enabling news media and his own party have jumped the Elephant, as it were.
He even ranted against the AT&T/ Time Warner merger and Comcast/ NBCU deal, putting the “jerk” in knee-jerk as he sought to get back at the news outlets he claims are currently in a massive conspiracy to elect his opponent, while promising to stymie democracy in a “rig”-marole when the votes are truly counted.
Granted, it is, at this reading, mere days before what is finally, mercifully, Election Day, but it is vital to not treat Mr. Trump like an unvarnished populist telling unpopular truths to entrenched power. He is, by our estimation, a serious threat to stable government. We previously said Trump was the wrong man at the wrong time. But that was a lifetime of ‘sue the media,’ ‘sue my accusers,’ and ‘throw lyin’ Hillary in jail’ cries ago. There is no right time for Mr. Trump.
We are not diminishing the possibility that his petulance and anger and “I’m rubber, you’re glue” name-calling could be a winning strategy. We hope not and expect not. But hoping and expecting don’t get the hay in the barn as they used to say on the farm. So, “vote for the Clinton of your choice, but vote,” to borrow from Vaughn Meader’s bit about the Kennedy clan.
And it is time to more pointedly point out how destructive and divisive and seemingly devoid of common decency the Trump campaign, or at least the candidate, has become. If there were a tracking poll for the race to the bottom, Trump wins in a mudslide.
We are reminded of the 1954 “Here he comes now” Herblock cartoon featuring then-VP candidate Richard Nixon-emerging from the storm sewers in Washington (https://cjr290.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/here-he-comes-now/), an image Herblock had used about communist hunter Joe McCarthy( who also fixated on conspiracies and persecuted in the name of protecting America) and that helped define Nixon before it became clear how accurate a portrayal it was of the Tricky One’s willingness to lead from the bottom. Nixon was another media hater, reportedly canceling his Washington Post subscription after the cartoon ran, and threatening the paper’s publisher, and its media licenses, decades later over Watergate coverage.
But, OK—plenty of other journalist sources have “taken the bait” and condemned all this hate. Why now, and why B&C? This was our cue: The Committee to Protect Journalists, whose focus is on keeping reporters safe in a dangerous world, took the unprecedented step of condemning a presidential candidate two weeks ago, saying Trump has betrayed constitutional protections of speech, and that his election would be “a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”
Free Speech Week ended a week ago, an industry-led effort to commemorate the freedoms that the Republican candidate seems to disdain. “Trump, Trump, Trump” is not a rally chant, it is the sound of rights being trampled.
Here is an exercise of one of those rights: Donald Trump should not be President.