Cassie Follman ’20
The presidential election this year is one that will make history in multiple ways; there is the first woman candidate for a major party, the unexpected rise of the celebrity Donald Trump and now, the ethics of endorsements.
Recently, a number of newspapers and other news sources have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, something that is a first in their history.
Even more conservativeleaning newspapers have endorsed Clinton rather than Trump, as was the case with one paper, Foreign Policy. In an article published by the editors of the newspaper, it stated, “In the nearly half-century history of Foreign Policy, the editors of this publication have never endorsed a candidate for political office. We cherish and fiercely protect this publication’s independence and its reputation for objectivity, and we deeply value our relationship with all of our readers, regardless of political orientation.” The fact that this source, one that has thus far refrained from endorsing a candidate since its infancy, has chosen to encourage its readers to consider voting for Clinton rather than the Republican candidate, is a historic move.
Other consistently conservative news sources have now made historic moves in endorsing Clinton for president. One newspaper, The Dallas Morning News has not endorsed a Democratic presidential nominee since World War II. An editorial stated, “Trump’s values are hostile to conservatism. He plays on fear — exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny — to bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best.” While conservative papers make a point to state that they do not agree with all of Clinton’s politics, they are also sure to say that Trump’s vision for America is not one they wish to support.
These public endorsements are treated with shock, as if people find it unbelievable that these newspapers are encouraging their readers to vote for a candidate. But can anything truly be shocking in this election?
Another controversy in the endorsements for this election is the case of the mass exodus of former Trump supporters following the release of the video in which Donald Trump made crude comments and abusive behavior towards women. While he has stated that he has never actually done any of the things stated in the video, numerous women have come forward with their stories of Trump’s abuse.
One of the most highlighted officials to retract his former endorsement Trump is Speaker Paul Ryan. Although initially hesitant to give his support for Trump, Ryan eventually gave his endorsement to the Republican candidate, as he was “preferable” to Clinton.
However, in light of the release of this video, Ryan has cancelled a planned joint event with Trump and has said that he no longer endorses the Republican candidate for the presidency. The Chicago Tribune reported that Ryan said, “I am sickened by what I heard today,” Ryan said. “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.” Ryan went on to say that he would be focusing on maintaining control of the House and Senate.
The great loss of support for Trump has certainly hurt his campaign. Following the second event, Clinton has risen steadily in multiple polls. The retraction of the endorsements has come too late to make much of a difference in this election. Rather than taking a stand, those who have chosen to abandon Trump now appear to be doing it to save-face, to secure that they will hold onto their own elected positions. While other members of the Republican leadership have never wanted a Trump presidency, these elected officials joined Trump when it appeared to be the best political move, and abandon him the minute they believed his popularity to have run out. While this is the system of politics on which the country is based, it is still disheartening that the leaders of a major party would allow themselves to be morally compromised.
The endorsements of political officials are important. When we ascribe to the endorser, we often trust their opinion. With the new take on endorsements for this election, one can either view the choice to endorse as a positive or a negative one. Positive, because at least newspapers have recognized what a tragic America Trump could create, and negative because trusted officials’ loyalty and dedication to advising the American people is called into question.
This election has hardly been one that the American people can be proud of, and while it may lead to the historic victory of the first woman in the presidency, it may also lead to the election of one of the most terrifying political figures in history. In this election especially, it will demonstrate the power of an endorsement.