The Atlantic, a magazine in print since 1857, does not hand out a presidential endorsement except when it feels one of the two choices is a serious danger to the nation.
It has made a U.S. presidential endorsement only three times in its history.
The first was in 1860, when James Russell Lowell, the founding editor of The Atlantic, argued that the Republican Party, and Abraham Lincoln, the Republican nominee, “represented the only reasonable pathway out of the existential crisis then facing the country”.
That crisis was one of the animating causes of The Atlantic’s formation in 1857, the abolition of slavery.
The Atlantic’s second presidential endorsement came 104 years later, when in 1964 the publication endorsed incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, over his Republican challenger, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.
Edward Weeks, writing on behalf of the magazine, cited Lowell’s words from 1860, before making his case for the election of President Johnson, who would, The Atlantic believed, “bring to the vexed problem of civil rights a power of conciliation which will prevent us from stumbling down the road taken by South Africa.”
The Atlantic’s third endorsement arrived this month, 52 years after its Lyndon B. Johnson endorsement.
The Atlantic’s 2016 choice is Hillary Clinton.
In its Clinton endorsement, the magazine’s current editors refer back to language from the 1964 decision to select Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater, using words that resonate in this current 2016 campaign:
We think it unfortunate that Barry Goldwater takes criticism as a personal affront; we think it poisonous when his anger betrays him into denouncing what he calls the “radical” press by bracketing the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Izvestia.
There speaks not the reason of the Southwest but the voice of Joseph McCarthy. We do not impugn Senator Goldwater’s honesty. We sincerely distrust his factionalism and his capacity for judgment.
In 2016, The Atlantic acknowledges that “our position is similar to the one” in which its editors found themselves in 1964.
We are impressed by many of the qualities of the  Democratic Party’s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by others, but we are mainly concerned with the Republican Party’s nominee, Donald J. Trump, who might be the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.
By calling its Clinton endorsement Against Donald Trump, the magazine makes clear that its major rationale in supporting Clinton is to warn voters of the dangers of a Trump victory on November 8.
This should reassure those Republicans who will, once Trump suffers his almost certain defeat, have a new assignment of rebuilding the GOP after the damage inflicted by Trump.
The Atlantic’s harsh words about Trump should also caution those voters tempted to vote for third-party candidates. Their vote will, ipso facto, be a Trump vote.
Trump supporters waited anxiously for his performance in the third and final debate Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cathleen Decker, writing for the Los Angeles Times, reports that Trump began the debate in a calmer tone than the angry tone he employs on the campaign trail.
It was not long, however, before the troublesome Trump emerged. Decker begins:
Donald Trump needed a compelling victory in Wednesday’s debate to alter the course of a campaign that has increasingly moved toward Hillary Clinton both nationally and in key states.
He did not get it.
The final debate was notable for delving into policy matters more than in two prior meetings, and for a more measured performance by Trump, in what was undeniably his best debate.
But whatever good he might have done for himself was flattened in two moments in which he appeared unable to take responsibility for his actions and unwilling to put aside personal disappointment for the nation’s good.
The Forward site points to Trump’s most damaging statements which are almost certain to harm him with undecided voters:
When moderator Chris Wallace asked him — twice — whether he would accept the results of the vote on November 8, Trump — twice — refused to say he would. “I will look at it at the time,” he said smugly, as if he alone were the arbiter of what is right and fair about the electoral process. “I will keep you in suspense,” he said, as if this were yet another episode of the TV reality show that is his life.
In 1860, The Atlantic founding editor James Russell Lowell, warned about “the perishability of the great American democratic experiment if citizens (at the time, white, male citizens) were to cease taking seriously their franchise”:
In a society like ours, where every man [or woman] may transmute his [or her] 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.
In less than three weeks, our “every fourth year” event will have its final moment of decision-making, in an election that most certainly is not “rigged”, though Donald Trump wants his die-hard loyalists to believe it is.
Trump has already signaled that he will not accept the election results. It appears almost certain now that he is laying plans for what would be a cult he will build around himself. His son is already talking about developing an independent Trump television network.
Hillary Clinton’s victory will not be a mandate; it will be a rejection of Trumpism.
To paraphrase a line from Mission Impossible: “Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to demand that your new President choose the right path toward justice and peace at home and abroad”.
The Hillary Clinton photo above, is by Brian Snyder for Reuters.