The mainstream media has paved the way for Trump’s success, and the same outlets have been as ready to condemn Hillary Clinton as hesitant to condemn Trump. But now The Washington Post editorial board has come out and said what so many of the rest of us have been saying. In a July 22 editorial, they called him a “unique threat to American democracy,” they say that “A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.”
So they have not only not endorsed him. They have come out and said, in essence, “Oh hell no!” to the idea of a Trump presidency.
Apparently, Trump’s terrifying acceptance speech as the Republican National Convention was the last straw for the editorial board, saying they “cannot salute the Republican nominee” because of former reality star’s “contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends.”
Took them long enough to notice.
Now that they have (and you have to wonder what made them wait so long) they say they are taking the extraordinary step of not waiting for the Democratic convention before announcing who they will endorse. Because Trump is just that bad – that dangerous why wait? Trump, they warn, “this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome.”
Trump is “uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions.”
Most critical of all, the editorial board warns that,
“Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.”
Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.
This is a correct analysis of the situation. We have already seen, from the dangerous way in which the Bush administration flouted our democratic norms, how fragile the system is. Bush insulated himself from the law by issuing signing statements. The House has now proved that despite the Founding Fathers’ intent, it can engage in foreign policy. In place of an “imperial presidency” we have a House that refuses to recognize a Constitutionally-elected president.
We have checks and balances. We think we have a great system of government. But there is nothing anyone can do about this state of affairs. The Founders hated the idea of political parties, but even they could not foresee all outcomes. Introducing Trump into the mix with an autocratic streak as wide as Trump Tower is tall, would be a disaster for America:
“[H]e doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president.” Including, we should note here, the owner of The Washington Post, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
He has vowed to constrict the independent press. He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies. The U.S. democratic system is strong and has proved resilient when it has been tested before. We have faith in it. But to elect Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject it to threat.
The editorial board then took some time to eviscerate Trump’s incoherence when it comes to stating policy positions:
Given his ignorance, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.
Of course, they point out that Trump has never actually read the Constitution (he has, of course, we have seen, read Hitler’s speeches), nor shows any inclination to do so:
Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.
It is Trump’s complete disregard for anything but his own power that is terrifying. He seems to think we are electing a king, and in voting for such a man, we would be doing so, and would his hopes a reality. The Washington Post editorial board is right to not only refuse to endorse Donald Trump, but to say, “Oh hell no!”
Correction: A previous version of this article was missing the link to the Washington Post editorial.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.