In 1969, Richard Nixon prepared a harrowing speech to be given in the event that Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin didn't survive the moon landing.
Thankfully, he never had reason to deliver it. But the speech lives on as a fascinating glimpse into an alternate universe where one small step for man became one traumatic disaster for mankind.
Journalists play a similar game of chance, routinely prepping articles about events before they actually take place. (I once had a co-worker who had a whole draft of an article prepared for when aliens land on Earth.) But now we're living in a dystopian timeline not unlike the one in which Armstrong gets absorbed into the moon's crust. And some publications weren't so well prepared. "I edit most of our immigration content," an editor for a news site tells me, "so not having prepared for the possibility of a Trump presidency was a serious oversight in terms of stacking up the kind of content we needed."
Lots of outlets prepared for the opposite outcome. And so, thanks to Trump's unexpected electoral victory, there is now a massive, unprecedented content graveyard of articles celebrating or analyzing Hillary Clinton's would-be historic victory. (We're just as guilty: A Newsweek partner prepared a whole Clinton commemorative magazine in advance of the election, infuriating Trump supporters who didn't realize we'd prepped a Trump edition as well.) Most of that content won't be read by anyone. But here is a small sampling. This collection is a tiny glimpse of what the internet would have looked like on November 9 if Clinton beat Trump, as so many pundits forecast.
Four quick notes: (1) Each of these excerpts is from an actual piece that was supposed to be published after Clinton claimed victory. (2) These excerpts were all provided to Newsweek via email, except for the Washington Post one, which already ran on the newspaper's site. (The Post's Chris Cillizza took the unusual step of publishing his "How Hillary Clinton Won" piece as a transparency exercise. We've excerpted just a snippet of his analysis.) (3) The Onion declined to share its Clinton-wins-the-presidency headlines. Sorry. "As good as they are," an editor responded, "we're always overly keen on maintaining our shroud of mystery over here." (4) If you're one of the 64,658,130 people who voted for Clinton (a popular vote total that significantly exceeds the president-elect's), this might be wrenching to read.
CADY DRELL (editor for Glamour magazine, formerly Newsweek)
But what we really want to tell you is that this is only the beginning. The glass ceiling isn't shattered until women's success is no longer news in and of itself. The history of feminism in this country has never been for the benefit of the trailblazer in question, just as any women who today voted for Hillary Clinton didn't do it for their own gain. Women like Clinton, and the women who led the fights for racial equality in this country, and the suffragettes before them, and the countless women whose names we don't even know before them endured what they did so that things would be a little bit easier for the women who followed them. We don't celebrate the election of a woman tonight for our own sakes, but because we recognize that the fact of her election means it will be a little less shocking, a little less unlikely, the next time a woman is elected president. Maybe it will be one of you.
JONATHAN CHAIT (writer and columnist, New York magazine)
Sparing the Republic from the whims of a twisted maniac is no small triumph. Clinton’s skeptics have already been denying credit for her expected victory by noting that she benefited from facing the least popular major party nominee in history, and that a normal Republican could have defeated her. This misses the extraordinary nature of the opposition that produced this unpopularity in the first place. Clinton has absorbed 25 years of relentless and frequently crazed hate directed at her husband, compounded by her status as a feminist symbol, which made her the subject of additional loathing. Her very real missteps were compounded by a press corps that treated her guilt as an unexamined background assumption. She is almost certainly the first president to survive simultaneous leak-attacks by both a faction of rogue right-wing FBI agents and Russian intelligence.
KATIE HALPER (freelance writer and host of the Katie Halper radio show and podcast)
Dear Hillary Clinton,
Congrats. You've achieved history. As someone who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary but still fought to defeat Donald Trump, I want to say thank you and you're welcome. Thank you for delivering us from Trump. And you're welcome for the work we did to send you to the White House. Without Sanders's running all over the country campaigning for you, and without the GOTV efforts and votes of Sanders supporters, you wouldn't have won.
I think we have the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship. But let's be real. I'm not that into you, and you're not that into me. And I know the kind of woman you are. You play hard to get; you're fickle; you say one thing and then do the opposite. You like one "position" one week and then hate it the next one. You like to play the field and swing both ways, to the left and to the right. You call yourself a moderate, but I've seen the way you look at Republicans. The way your face lights up when Henry Kissinger walks into a room. You never look at me that way. To be fair, I don't get that hot and bothered by you...or Kissinger. He actually repulses me on physical, moral, ethical and intellectual levels. The good thing is we'll never fight over a man.
As Becky Bond, a former senior organizer for the Sanders campaign and co-author of Rules for Revolutionaries, put it, "from the perspective of progressives who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, this election is a shotgun wedding." We would vote for Clinton "because we had to." But there was never going to be a honeymoon.
Now, Hillary, you are the president-elect. And as much as a catch as I may be, it would be silly to pretend your being the most powerful person in the entire world doesn't give you a bit of an upper hand.
But before you get too comfortable, just remember that our commitment to each other only lasts for four years. If you want to make this last for eight years, you're going to have to treat us well. I'm going to have to be fired up if you want me to renew our vows in 2020.
Now what does that mean? What will fire me up? I don't expect you to read my mind. That's a mistake too many couples make.
Since Bond is an experienced organizer, dubbed a "secret weapon" by Breitbart, I thought I would ask her for advice. What were the things that I could ask of Clinton that would show me she was going to do the right thing by me and by the country? She suggested four easy ways for you to satisfy and prove your commitment to progressive partners like me. Because a strong foundation is the key to any successful relationship, Bond said this could all be done within the first 100 days of the presidency.
- Use an executive to grant protection from deportation to the family members of the undocumented people Barack Obama's order protects from deportation.
- Use an executive order to say that the international aid won't be subject to Hyde Amendment restrictions around abortion.
- Appoint people to the treasury from the Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.
- Pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
These would be extremely romantic.
MARIN COGAN (contributing editor, New York magazine, but this piece was prepared for Vox.com)
And yet: Hillary Clinton’s victory is historic—a triumph that should not be overlooked. It marks the end of centuries of exclusion of women from the nation’s top job. Even more remarkable was the way she won it: by running as a woman, who championed policies aimed at women, against an avatar of reactionary sexism. She won under politically tainted investigation, in spite of plenty of legitimate criticism, and in the face of an incredible amount of sexism. In voting for her, Americans rejected Donald Trump’s old, macho vision of leadership and embraced a new paradigm, one that values not only a new style of leadership but also a policy outlook that prioritizes women and children.
Clinton's path to the presidency—much like her last two-plus decades in public life—was not an easy one, defined more by her relentless drive forward than any sort of soaring movement like the one that propelled Barack Obama into office in 2008. And even in victory, Clinton survived rather than overwhelmed. Expected to cruise to an electoral vote victory, Clinton squeaked by—with Democrats fretting deep into the night about her prospects.
In short: It was a uniquely Clinton campaign—with all the good and bad that connotes.
ALEXANDRA SVOKOS (political writer, Elite Daily)
Clinton was the first First Lady to have had a full-time job outside of her husband's career before moving into the White House. She was the first First Lady to get an office in the West Wing.
Clinton was the first female senator from New York. She was the first First Lady to be elected to a public office.
Clinton was the first woman to clinch a presidential nomination and the first female presidential nominee for a major party.
Now, Clinton is set to become the first female president of the United States.
JORDAN FREIMAN (staff writer, Death and Taxes)
NEWSWEEK/TOPIX STAFF (prepared for a special commemorative edition)
On Election Day, Americans across the country roundly rejected the kind of fear- and hate-based conservatism peddled by Donald Trump and elected the first woman in U.S. history to the presidency. The culminating election of a career in politics spanning three decades and arguably more experience than any other incoming president, 2016's was not an easy race to watch, comment on or be a part of—but when the dust cleared it revealed a priceless moment in American history. The highest glass ceiling in the Western world had finally shattered.
JON SCHWARZ (senior writer, The Intercept)
Okay. Okay. The 2016 election is over, and Donald Trump is not going to be president of the United States of America.
We’ve all hugged our children, husbands and wives, parents, siblings, neighbors, dogs, cats, parakeets, ocelots and so forth. Some of us may have cried with relief.
Now we have to figure out what to do next.
Top Democrats, top Republicans, the corporate media and big business all have overwhelming incentives to pretend, as of this moment, that the last year never happened. Maybe there was a small glitch in the matrix, they’ll say, but the update we just pushed has patched it. The system worked! Thanks for voting. We’ll handle things from here.
For everyone else, all of America’s regular people, it’s a matter of life and death to stop that from happening.
The fact that a Tang-colored monstrosity like Trump came this close to the Zero Halliburton aluminum suitcase is by itself a terrifying catastrophe. The U.S. has had several presidents who might have destroyed humanity on purpose, but Trump is the first serious contender who could easily have done it by accident.
In any functioning democracy Trump’s campaign would have sputtered to a halt in the fall of 2015 because all of the other Republican candidates refused to appear on the same stage as him.
Instead he tore through every barrier except the very very last like it was wet toilet paper. And in the end Trump wasn’t beaten by anyone but himself. Hillary Clinton was backed by two-thirds of the U.S. establishment, and much of the rest stayed out of it, yet Trump could easily have won if he were a tiny bit less stupid, lazy and vile.
If we look back over the last 15 years of American history and its culmination with Trump, we can see that U.S. elites have built a political system that’s like a killer robot that’s malfunctioning to the degree that even they can’t control it anymore. Working normally it murders African Americans and pregnant women and opioid addicts. The Iraq war was a minor hiccup that caused it to obliterate a country, several thousand Americans and hundreds of thousands of foreigners. The housing bubble was the result of a more serious bug that liquidated hundreds of thousan
But with Trump, for perhaps the first time, the robot totally ignored the commands of its creators and put everyone in its crosshairs.
This time it missed. It might miss the next time, too. But if it’s not dismantled, you better believe it’s going to get us all eventually. It’s not trying to kill us because of specific bad people whom we can replace, but because of America's deep, structural problems.
PAUL KRUGMAN (columnist, The New York Times)
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