The Atlantic magazine has endorsed a presidential candidate only four times in 163 years.
Two of those four endorsements were made explicitly against Donald Trump, to whom the editors referred, in 2016, as possibly "the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency".
The editors now realize, four years later, they severely understated their case.
Editors of The Atlantic, November 2016:
[W]e 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.
These concerns compel us, for the third time since the magazine's founding, to endorse a candidate for president. . . .
Donald Trump . . . has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America's nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.
This judgment is not limited to the editors of The Atlantic. A large number—in fact, a number unparalleled since Goldwater's 1964 campaign—of prominent policy makers and officeholders from the candidate's own party have publicly renounced him. Trump disqualified himself from public service long before he declared his presidential candidacy. In one of the more sordid episodes in modern American politics, Trump made himself the face of the so-called birther movement, which had as its immediate goal the demonization of the country's first African American president. Trump's larger goal, it seemed, was to stoke fear among white Americans of dark-skinned foreigners. He succeeded wildly in this; the fear he has aroused has brought him one step away from the presidency. . . .
Trump is not a man of ideas. He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar. He is spectacularly unfit for office, and voters—the statesmen and thinkers of the ballot box—should act in defense of American democracy and elect his opponent.
Editors of The Atlantic, October 22, 2020:
In 1973, a United States Air Force officer, Major Harold Hering, asked a question that the Air Force did not want asked. Hering, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, was then in training to become a Minuteman-missile crewman. The question he asked one of his instructors was this: "How can I know that an order I receive to launch my missiles came from a sane president?" . . .
Hering's question was taboo [the Air Force refused to provide an answer, saying he did not "need to know"] because the national defense strategy of the United States is built on the unstated assumption that the American people will not allow a lunatic to become president. . . .[F]or this he was driven from the Air Force. . . .
[In 2016,] Donald Trump had not yet served in public office, so concerns about his ability to protect the United States from harm were hypothetical, though grounded in his long and terrible record as a human being. . . .
What we have learned since we published that editorial is that we understated our case. Donald Trump is the worst president this country has seen since Andrew Johnson, or perhaps James Buchanan, or perhaps ever. Trump has brought our country low; he has divided our people; he has pitted race against race; he has corrupted our democracy; he has shown contempt for American ideals; he has made cruelty a sacrament; he has provided comfort to propagators of hate; he has abandoned America's allies; he has aligned himself with dictators; he has encouraged terrorism and mob violence; he has undermined the agencies and departments of government; he has despoiled the environment; he has opposed free speech; he has lied frenetically and evangelized for conspiracism; he has stolen children from their parents; he has made himself an advocate of a hostile foreign power; and he has failed to protect America from a ravaging virus. Trump is not responsible for all of the 220,000 COVID-19-related deaths in America. But through his avarice and ignorance and negligence and titanic incompetence, he has allowed tens of thousands of Americans to suffer and die, many alone, all needlessly. With each passing day, his presidency reaps more death. . . .
Donald Trump has been credibly accused of rape. Compelling evidence suggests that his countless sins and defects are rooted in mental instability, pathological narcissism, and profound moral and cognitive impairment. . . .
[He] is a clear and continuing danger to the United States, and it does not seem likely that our country would be able to emerge whole from four more years of his misrule. Two men are running for president. One is a terrible man; the other is a decent man. Vote for the decent man.
Just as a reminder, here's Trump four months ago bragging that he called for slower COVID-19 testing. About 100,000 people have died since then. https://t.co/Jr5GYCFHHQ— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) October 24, 2020