by Diana Cox
I’ve been pondering this for a while, and have decided to lay out my case. This isn’t necessarily intended to change minds, nor to defend my own political choices (as I don’t owe that to anyone), but to share possible food for thought with others that may find themselves in the same boat as myself.
As a quick background (in case you don’t know me), I consider myself a Republican, with libertarian leanings. I love freedom, guns, capitalism, the U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. military. I dislike over-regulation of business (including in the health insurance industry) and really don’t care who marries who (as long as it is two consenting adults). I absolutely reject the idea that Republicans are inherently ignorant, racist, homophobic, or sexist – to imply otherwise is itself ignorant.
This election cycle has been baffling in some regards (Trump), and very predictable in others (Clinton – come on, Bernie never had a chance). Now, today we have two deeply flawed and highly unlikable candidates leading the polls for the presidency. If polling continues the way it has been trending, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has a legitimate possibility of being included in the national televised debates alongside the Republican and Democrat nominees. There are some highly appealing aspects of the Johnson-Weld (L) ticket – but both, once again, are flawed candidates coming from a flawed party, with (honestly, but unfortunately) no legitimate chance of winning the presidency. Johnson’s consistently lackluster performance and demeanor, in both interviews and even within his own party debates does not engender confidence. He does not always seem sure of his own positions, ducks opportunities to hit his opponents, and leaves a general feeling of “meh.” In following the party more closely this cycle than in the past, I was deeply bothered by the lack of acceptance of outsiders that were interested in the party message, bizarre factions, and general animosity to real solutions that involved any kind of compromise. Further, I do subscribe to the belief that a vote for a third party (whether it be Libertarian, Green, etc), does split the vote share and can hurt the major party candidate closer to one’s own ideals. I encourage people to vote and to vote their conscience, but I cannot vote third party at the top of the ballot.
In discussing Secretary Clinton (D), I will begin by saying that while much of my personal ideology is quite different than hers, her presidency does not outright terrify me – but it does bother me. I do not want to see an expansion of government – it goes against my entire personal political ideology – helmed by the leader of a party who thrives on division. Expansion of government inherently means reduction of freedom and the Democratic Party depends on an “us versus them” mentality to secure votes.
But mostly, I have decided that I refuse to participate in a coronation of someone with a questionable character, who is treated differently than the average American, just because of place of power and gender.
The Clintons are finely tuned politicians – policy stances and statements are carefully crafted based on polling. Their actions change to conform as needed to appease those who will let them hold on to power. In many ways, President Bill Clinton was open to compromise with members of the other major party, which I would argue is more than the current administration (not to mention putting himself in compromising positions). Granted, some of the Clinton presidency policy actions may have had long reaching negative repercussions (example: the mortgage crisis ); many would still consider him a moderate Democrat. I have opted to leave out discussion of the accusations, indiscretions, and impeachment of Pres. Clinton (for today).
Focusing on candidate Secretary Clinton (D), a few key words: Benghazi, email investigation. Many fellow news junkies are already experiencing fatigue from hearing these words in the news cycle – others, who have already fully formed their voting decisions (or just revile at the idea of voting for anyone other than a Democrat) shut down upon seeing them. I won’t continue to spout what every pundit has already said – but I will explain how these items impacted my decision. I’ve learned by now that the significance of the attack on the Benghazi embassy is lost on many – and there are arguably many that should bear blame. The U.S House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi has released its report (you can read all 800 pages here, however, I will not pretend I’ve bothered to commit the time). Note that the committee managed to report on this long investigation while dealing with major delays in release of pertinent documents from the current administration (how’s that for transparency?). I cannot fathom Sec. Clinton’s choice of words during a hearing: “What difference at this point does it make?” (LINK). Taken in context, it may sound slightly less heartless. However, I would challenge you to make that argument to the families of those that were lost that night. The problem is not with the words themselves, but to be the head of the State Department and choose to be unaware of the embassy needs, in an unstable country, then to blame what is now generally regarded as a premeditated terrorist attack on a poorly made anti-Islam YouTube video. To cover up the breakdown of Libya and deaths of Americans assigned there by blaming a video, is untruthful and shameful. There is some debate as to whether this claim was made directly to the family members of those killed. The fact that there is a question is unacceptable to me.
By now, I believe everyone in the country has heard reference to Sec. Clinton’s emails. The FBI Director did find that she and her lawyers misled investigators and the public. They found her to be “extremely careless” – however, the agency did not recommend charges. We can ponder whether the decision to use personal email and a personal server was just ignorance and laziness (one offered explanation was so she would only have to carry one device) or a bit more nefarious: to intentionally skirt FOIA and other document requirements. What matters the most here, is how would any other citizen or member of government be treated? Some point to Gen. Patraeus as an example, but I will cede there are some differences in their cases. As an individual who has served in the military with a security clearance, been trained on classified information handling, and exposed to sensitive information – I will tell you, I believe to my core, that had I done the same as Sec. Clinton, I would have been prosecuted or at a minimum had my clearance stripped, as other service members have. (Read more about how others are treated here.) As a matter of fact, a Marine, currently facing legal challenges that will force him out of the military will be citing the Clinton case to fight his involuntary discharge. In his case, it wasn’t carelessness or laziness that sparked the charges against him – it was his attempt to warn others of an imminent threat. If she got a pass, why should he not for attempting to save lives? While he is not facing criminal charges, he was investigated by NCIS and is facing being kicked out of the Marines. I assure you these are not the only examples – access to classified information and retaining a security clearance are serious issues, which can result in actual damages to national security and loss of life. Last I checked, ignorance of the law is not a defense for breaking the law, nor is motivation for the violation part of the decision (besides, I would argue on behalf of the Marine if we are going to talk about intent).
Secretary Clinton is a woman, and so am I – however that does not obligate me to share her beliefs or vote for her. That does not mean I wouldn’t love to see a woman president – but gender and race are not deciding factors for myself.
On to Donald Trump (R) – who has managed to break so many accepted campaign rules, but still gain the party nomination – passed 17 other primary candidates (while I was rooting for the party to finally embrace Rand Paul). I will argue that despite the official label now, and despite what he’s said in the past – he is not much of a Republican. He wavers on healthcare, other than accurately being certain the Affordable Care Act is not working. I raise an eyebrow on his comments on trade (tariffs, etc) as I am more of a free-market type of girl. I believe that I as an individual can better use my income than a government agency. While our immigration system is undeniably broken, I do not consider a wall priority one. I have not seen evidence that he is a racist. I have not seen evidence that he is sexist. I do not foresee him pursuing any policies that would challenge major the major Supreme Court rulings in Roe v. Wade (abortion) or Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage) – which often appear to be the primary focuses of the less politically-minded population. I do vehemently support free speech (even if it hurts your feelings) and we all know that he agrees. I support law enforcement and military, which he purports to, as well. Hopefully, the problems in the Veterans Administration will be addressed regardless of who wins in November. His stances are not as “small government” – less intrusive in daily life – as I would like, and argue are at the true core of the Republican Party (fiscal responsibility). I certainly cannot deny that his speaking is hugely mock-able and his public demeanor can be painful to watch, and his social media style distasteful. I do not think he has a good grasp on what is actionable by the president, and he speaks off the cuff without the necessary background information. A lot of us do these things, but a lot of us are not running for president. I do believe his focus would be on the economy – he is a businessman, it serves his interest – and national security, it serves economic interest as well. Regardless, as what I am seeing may be what I want to see – I will wrap up with this – Trump has pursued many business endeavors; some failed, some succeeded. Many successful people in business and sports alike subscribe to a similar creed that they credit with their success: surround yourself with people smarter than you. Despite his flubs and misstatements and a deficiency in likeability, as a businessman, Trump should be expected to surround himself with a well-versed team to advise him should he win the presidency. I dislike the “Make America Great Again” slogan, as it is based on the premise that America is not currently great. America is a great country, but of course, it could always be better.
Before you judge too harshly, I assure you that I will likely need to take a shower after casting this (likely) vote.
“You are entitled to nothing” – Frank Underwood, House of Cards