Posted by: maboulette | October 24, 2016

Endorsement of the New Yorker


As endorsements go, this one is hardly unexpected. The New Yorker has provided some of the most insightful coverage of this election, including the single most important piece of analysis written thus far (IMO). That said, their endorsement of Hillary Clinton today is particularly discerning:

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 opponent’s 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. 

The New Yorker observes that had the Republicans chosen to nominate a Rubio or a Bush, the country may have had the benefit of a more thorough debate on the issues Clinton stands for. As it turned out, however, Clinton was reduced to a near-secondary role in what the magazine describes as a “squalid American epic,” one which will doubtlessly have aftereffects and indirect consequences for years to come. 

The endorsement examines and reiterates the litany of loathsome and anti-American characteristics that disqualify the Republican nominee, most of which will be familiar to those here and don’t need repeating.  But there is room for placing Donald Trump in a historical context, which tends to be forgotten in our present-obsessed media:

[M]uch 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 him—Father Coughlin and Senator Joseph McCarthy among them—were 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 President—erratic, empty, cruel, intolerant, and corrupt—represents a form of national emergency. 

Explaining Trump’s appeal among his supporters would require a longer article, but the magazine doesn’t forget the fact that for someone as demagogic as Trump to have taken hold of a susceptible population, there must still be a glaring disconnect in the country’s priorities and the facts that actually exist on the ground, in their homes, schools, and workplaces of those who chose to support him:

We are in the midst of a people’s revolt, a great debate concerning income inequality, the “hollowing” of the middle, globalization’s winners and losers. If the tribune whom the voters of the Republican Party have chosen is a false one, we cannot dismiss the message because we deplore the messenger. The white working-class voters who form the core of Trump’s support—and who were once a Democratic constituency—should not have their anxieties and suffering written off. Their struggle with economic abandonment and an incomplete health-care system demands airing, understanding, and political solutions. 

Of course, their endorsement contains an extensive assessment of Hillary Clinton as well; whom they concede deserved more than to run against someone like Trump:

Hillary Clinton’s vision and temperament are the opposite of her opponent’s. She has been a pioneer throughout her life, and yet her career cannot be easily reduced to one transcendent myth: she has been an idealist and a liberal incrementalist, a glass-ceiling-smashing lawyer and a cautious establishmentarian, a wife and mother, a First Lady, a rough-and-tumble political operator, a senator, a Secretary of State. Her story is about walking through flames and emerging changed, warier and more determined. 

She offers no soaring rhetoric on the order of “Morning in America,” “A Bridge to the 21st Century,” or “Yes We Can.” What she does offer is a series of thoughtful and energetic proposals that present precisely the kind of remedies that could improve the lives of many working-class and poor Americans of all races. 

These proposals include expanding access to Medicaid, permitting eligibility for Medicare at age 55, increasing federal support for child care, helping students with college debt, increased development of infrastructure, tightening regulations on the financial industry, as well as a wide range of tax proposals designed to level the playing field and reduce income inequality. In other words, they are all the issues (and the article lists many more) that might have been discussed by a competent media over the last six months if her opponent was not Donald Trump. 

Most importantly, President Clinton would build on the Obama Administration’s successful effort to refashion the Federal judiciary into a body of government that actually works in the people’s interests instead of trying to fulfill the wish lists of large corporations. Assuming Democrats control the Senate and have the courage to eliminate the deliberately obstructive filibuster of Supreme Court nominees, she may make 2-3 appointments to that Court, which would impact tremendously on issues from voting rights, to reproductive rights, and protection of the environment.  

Finally, there is little doubt that Clinton is a progressive. In part, the bizarre nature of this sideshow campaign has permitted her to embrace progressive issues with little or no fanfare and the notable absence of pushback from the Democratic Party’s centrist wing.  On climate change, immigration, LGBTQ rights, and gun violence, all issues important to progressives’ young and old, she has adopted positions impossible to distinguish from those of her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.

And finally, the New Yorker does not forget the most profound aspect of Clinton’s candidacy:

The election of a woman to the Presidency will have myriad reverberations in the life and the institutions of this country. President Obama’s election certainly did not end the saga of racial conflict and prejudice in the United States, but as a distinct step forward it opened up the world to countless young people. Similarly, electing a female President means imagining new possibilities: that a woman might survive that gantlet of derision to hold power with confidence, without apology, to enlarge our notions of authority and hasten an age when a female President will no longer be exceptional. Just as President Obama was able at certain moments of glaring injustice and crisis to focus the country on matters of race in a potentially lasting way, Hillary Clinton, who has emphasized in her campaign and throughout her political life such issues as early-childhood education, paid family leave, and equal pay, could also change the nation in deeply consequential ways. That’s a thrilling possibility for all Americans.



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