I remember the day I made the sale as vividly as I remember the election.
Both were exhilarating, and both happened in 2016.
The sale was the biggest one I had ever landed, to the largest company I had ever approached. I had only recently made the shift from the editorial department, and the feeling I got after I closed it — heart pounding, mind racing, my whole being exploding with the sudden realization of my own potential — convinced me I was on the right track.
Months later, on the night of the election, I raced back to the office from the Guilford County GOP watch party when it became clear Trump was going to win. We came out on Wednesdays back then, and we had some decisions to make before sending the news section to the printer.
We had made three separate covers. The “Hillary Wins” cover was the one we thought we’d end up using, and we had another just in case the election was unresolved by the witching hour. I never thought we’d end up using the third one. Still, we gamed out what the next few years would look like just in case.
What if he wins?
We used a photo of Trump from a local campaign appearance; in the background we ghosted images of other Americans who brought shame on our country: Richard Nixon, Joe McCarthy, George Wallace, Jesse Helms. At my insistence, we also included Adolf Hitler, in full fascist salute. That’s the one, I think, that pushed things over the edge.
We faced immediate backlash on Facebook from rank-and-file Republicans who promised retribution, and began calling our advertisers.
It was a local Republican bigshot who told me that my biggest client would not be renewing when their trial period had ended, six weeks before it happened.
I’m bringing this up now not to out the advertiser — this was a long time ago, and it’s not the point.
I mention what we’ve taken to calling the “Hitler cover” because it’s important for people to know what goes on behind the scenes, the levers of power that get thrown in the name of maintaining the status quo.
I’m bringing it up because we’re still here, on the same mission. We survived that and worse over the years. Our enterprise is not about money. Never has been.
And I write about the Hitler cover because, after thousands of seditionists stormed the capitol to reverse the results of a free and fair election, I feel completely vindicated.