Why After 75 Years, Esquire Endorsed a Presidential Candidate

Two years ago, in our issue that hit newsstands a month before the midterm elections, we decided to make a statement about how important the '06 elections were (and how important it was for our readers to participate) that we endorsed a candidate in every federal election in the country, and for good measure, in gubernatorial races as well. It was an insane thing for a magazine with a small staff to do--compile dossiers on well over a thousand candidates and potential candidates and then make a choice in each of nearly 500 races and justify that choice in a few pointed words. The reaction was astounding--candidates we opposed trashed us on their sites and in their local papers; candidates we favored announced it in every way they could.

This year, in an election year in which the stakes are even higher, there was no real decision to make. We were going to reprise the "Endorsement Package." In honor of the election, the entire November issue became the "endorsement issue," stuffed with impassioned recommendations to our readers. One of those endorsements is for Barack Obama to become the next President of the United States. It's a thoughtful, lengthy, slightly intemperate piece of writing, and by no means hagiographic. The endorsement expresses our frustrations with Obama's candidacy and his campaign at least as much as it makes the case for what it is we hope he can accomplish. As much as any other factor, we made this endorsement out of a determination that a continuation of the Bush era is simply unthinkable. We do see Senator Obama as a transformational figure, but we did not recommend against John McCain lightly. Over the past two years, we've published four substantive pieces about Senator McCain, including one cover profile. He's a man we have long respected and liked, but the man running for president is a very different man from the John McCain we wrote about two years ago, or 8 months ago, or just a few weeks ago.