The Atlantic has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. In announcing only its third Presidential endorsement in its 160-year existence, The Atlantic recalls founding editor James Russell Lowell’s warning about the importance of taking our role as voters in a democracy seriously:
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 [James Russell Lowell, endorsing Abraham Lincoln, October 1860; in editorial, “Against Donald Trump,” The Atlantic, 2016.10.05].
How do Lowell’s twenty-first-century successors evaluate the candidates who seek to captain our history and destiny?
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 [The Atlantic, 2016.10.05].
Our vote is not merely a chance to wear rude t-shirts. Our vote writes history. To vote for Clinton, says The Atlantic, is to “act in defense of American democracy.” Defend democracy, and vote for the woman who can do the most important job in the world.