The New Yorker Cover that Accidentally Saw the Future

Donald Trump wasn’t in The New Yorker’s locker room in 2015. But we’ve finally found the right one.

“Suiting Up.” Mark Urliksen. The New Yorker, June 1, 2015.

On June 1st, 2015, The New Yorker ran a cover by Mark Urliksen, titled “suiting up.” The cover, as we see here, depicts the Republicans everyone assumed were going to be the key players in the presidential contest, in a locker room. Amy Davidson wrote in the Cover Story:

“If you counted everyone who, against all evidence, takes himself (or herself) seriously as a candidate, the locker room…would look as crowded as the departures hall at Penn Station, and almost as disconcerting. As it is, Ulriksen presents seven contenders with seven varieties of preening. Maybe it’s hard to tell a vision for America from a delusion of grandeur, at least until the debates and primaries get under way. Until then, Marco Rubio’s got his phone, Rand Paul his comb, and Huckabee his Bible. Ted Cruz’s eyes flit between his copy of the Constitution and his mirror, while Scott Walker seems on the lookout for unionized gym attendants. Bush is wearing his dynasty-logo boxers and Chris Christie his put-me-in-now pout. And yet, somehow, one of these seven men is almost certainly right about his chances for the nomination. The primary campaign may look like a pickup game about to descend into a brawl, but there’s a national candidate somewhere in the lineup.”

No one could have anticipated that, two weeks after this cover hit the news stand, the eventual standard-bearer of the Republican party would descend on a golden escalator, kicking off his campaign by calling Mexicans drug dealers, criminals and rapists.

No one would could have predicted the fall of “Little Marco,” “Low Energy Jeb” or “Lyin’ Ted.” Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee hardly deserve a footnote in the future history of this election. Who would have foreseen Governor Chris Christie’s transformation from pit bull to lap dog? And which one was Scott Walker again?

And yet, a year-and-a-half later, the spotlight, or rather, the hot-mike, is once again on the locker room.

This cover isn’t just a time capsule of the anticipated future in some alternate universe where everything was normal. It also records a moment before Trump took the stage, when trying to separate “a vision for America from a delusion of grandeur” meant the typical contest for a candidate who defined the ideals of the Republican party. Unfortunately, the result of the primary contest was a candidate for whom his vision for America is a delusion of grandeur.

Imagine the locker room banter between the seven men on the cover. Love them or hate them, even those seven tremendous egos were representing a contest of ideas: the role of faith in American life; the size and scope of government; the proper interpretation of the constitution. You can despise them all, but it is unlikely that any of them would have said that you can grab a woman “by the pussy.”

No, Trump was suiting up in a locker room in an alternate universe, where sexual assault is just something you joke about when you’re adjusting your jock strap.

There’s one last notable person on the cover. Hillary Clinton is peeking through the window. And while it’s true that she was apparently looking in the wrong place, the end result remains the same. As Amy Davidson writes, “She may be the real subject of the picture — she is the big game.”