Why we took a stand on Trump
That question cropped up repeatedly, from President Trump’s supporters as well as his critics, after we launched our six-part series of editorials about the 45th president.
The answer is simple. Even though we’re only 11 weeks into the Trump presidency, there is good reason to believe that rather than grow into the job, he’ll remain the man he was on the campaign trail — impulsive, untruthful, narcissistic, ignorant of the limits on presidential power and woefully unprepared to wield it. Rather than wait until the public grew inured to the lies, the undermining of democratic institutions, the demagoguery and bluster, we decided to lay out our concerns at length and in detail.
The Times editorial board is a group of nine men and women that functions like an independent newsroom within the newspaper, metaphorically walled off from the news reporters. Unlike those reporters, whose job is to write objectively and dispassionately about the news, our job is to write opinion.
In the weeks after the election, we talked about doing a series of editorials on the changes Trump was proposing. Those included his determination to deport far more non-criminal immigrants living in the country illegally, his repudiation of generally accepted climate science and his rejection of the Affordable Care Act. One of our colleagues, however, made a point that caused us to think again: Although we strongly disagreed with many of Trump’s proposals, that wasn’t what made him so uniquely dangerous.
It’s the man himself, his character and temperament, that set him apart from his predecessors. So we decided to write instead about how Trump’s erratic, impulsive, narcissistic personality manifests itself in his actions in ways that pose a threat to our democracy.
We also wrestled with the tone. We were sharply critical of Trump during the campaign, saying that he was “spectacularly unfit to serve as president” and that if he were elected, we expected a “catastrophe.” In the days following his surprising victory over Hillary Clinton, however, we wrote that we hoped he would find a way to succeed “because we want this country to flourish.”
That remains true today. Yet we’ve grown increasingly doubtful that Trump will lead any responsible efforts to reform immigration policy, grow the economy, improve healthcare or achieve other shared goals. His Cabinet choices and budget proposals show he’s more interested in dismantling federal agencies and programs than improving their effectiveness.