Editorial: Non-endorsements of Trump fail voters
Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 -- Those who say they want to defeat GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump need to say vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.Posted — Updated
For doing so little, USA Today’s Thursday, Sept. 29 editorial page got a lot of attention.
In its 34 years of existence, the newspaper has never endorsed a presidential candidate and is sticking with that policy.
So, what’s the big deal?
With all that going against Trump, is there someone that USA Today says SHOULD be the next president?
Well, no. In fact, the editorial makes the point it does not “represent unqualified support for (Democrat) Hillary Clinton.” Vote, the folks at USA Today recommend. “Just not for Donald Trump.”
It might be said the newspaper merely trumped Trump.
In the arena of endorsements, there’s no testing the water with a toe to swim with the sharks – it just gets nibbled off.
If you believe that Trump is dangerous and needs to be defeated, the only choice is to vote for Clinton. That is just the way elections in the United States work and for USA Today to think, or suggest otherwise is naive or disingenuous.
Votes for third-party candidates, no matter the reason, do have an impact. Look at what it meant to George H.W. Bush’s failed reelection in 1992 due to the votes that went to Ross Perot or to the victory for George W. Bush in 2000 because of the votes that went to Ralph Nader in Florida.
For these papers, the decision wasn’t easy. It meant breaking with deeply rooted traditions. It upset long-standing expectations from readers. These community news organizations are local and the people they serve shop around the corner and sit in the local café. They quite literally can be in the editors’ faces with sharp disagreements or support.
By contrast USA Today has a diffused national audience. Its readers scurry through airports or kill time at free motel breakfasts.
Endorsements aren’t musing on the state of the electorate or the candidate. They are, like elections, opportunities to make a choice, make a difference and stand up FOR something and someone.
When voters go into the polling place, their ballot doesn’t ask them to pick who they’re voting against. They’re asked to make a choice, to make an affirmative statement – in this case about who should be the next president.
If USA Today – or any other editorial voice -- is going to stake such a sharp stand about who it is against, it owes its readers a statement about who, and what, it stands for and why it makes a difference.
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