Virtually every editorial board in the country has opined — repeatedly — about the dangers that Donald Trump presents to the United States and the world if he is elected president this fall. On Sunday, the Boston Globe’s Opinions section took the “stop Trump” movement to a whole new level: publishing a satirical front page of what the country might look like under a President Trump.
Deportations. Trade wars. New libel laws targeting the media. A decidedly dark vision of Trump’s America.
“It is an exercise in taking a man at his word,” the editorial board wrote in an accompanying op-ed explaining the decision to run the fake front page. “And his vision of America promises to be as appalling in real life as it is in black and white on the page. It is a vision that demands an active and engaged opposition. It requires an opposition as focused on denying Trump the White House as the candidate is flippant and reckless about securing it.”
The immediate effect of the fake front page will be to provide Trump with yet another talking point about how his candidacy is driving the media insane. “Did you see the Boston Globe? They ran a fake front page with all President Trump. Failing newspapers love to hate Trump. Sad!” Or something like that. You get the idea.
In that regard, the fake front page will embolden Trump’s ardent supporters, who believe that the media, the Republican Party establishment and, well, everyone who is not them are unfairly targeting Trump in this campaign.
The Globe’s editorial page, of course, knew that. So, why do it? And how?
“Obviously a project like this doesn’t come together overnight,” said Kathleen Kingsbury, deputy managing editor of the Globe’s editorial page. “We listened to speeches, we scoured his website and policy briefs, we considered who his advisers are, and we consulted a cross-section of economists, policy analysts, and other experts. This is political satire, but we’re also making a political statement: We want the GOP to pause. To reflect on whether or not if this — the vision that Trump is promising and the political movement that he’s inspiring — is the direction it wants to head going forward. ”
My sense of what the Globe is up to here is using a bit of a publicity stunt as a means of showing people the consequences of voting for Trump. Trump’s campaign began in June 2015 as something in between a big joke and a piece of performance art. People laughed at Trump and his proposals, assuming that his white-hot rhetoric would never actually catch on with any piece of the electorate.
Now that Trump is the front-runner to be the Republican nominee — a weak front-runner but a front-runner nonetheless — the Globe clearly believes that the time for kidding around is pretty much over. (Yes, I understand that publishing a fake front page may not seem like the height of seriousness.) This is the paper’s attempt to force people to reckon with the practical effects of what a Trump presidency would actually mean — and it’s not a pretty picture.
Can an editorial board force that sort of mirror-looking by the public at large? Probably not.