A friend in California who works in tech and entertainment, makes big money, has beaten addiction, loves his kids, and lives his faith, wrote to express his amicable skepticism about my support of Donald Trump and the Republican ticket.
"Any second thoughts about your endorsing the GOP nominee?" he asked. "As an armchair political scientist for all these years, my observation is that DT seems incredibly under-prepared and inexperienced in governance to lead our country in these troubled times."
Here's how I answered him. It's my roadmap for deciding between two less-than-wonderful options in 2016.
You're right, Jack. I am a state co-chair for the Trump campaign and doing all I can to help get him elected.
Donald was about my 100th choice for the Republican nomination, but against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, he is my strong unequivocal first choice. It’s a binary situation and not difficult for me on that basis.
Three factors I always consider politically, especially for President — individuals, issues, and institutions. Three I's, as it happens.
Just between the two individuals, it’s not a gold-medal field for sure. I look at their goals and their capability/reliability to achieve same. In my appraisal, Trump is coarse, vain, shallow, and honestly seeks what’s best for America. Hillary I read as corrupt, incompetent, shallow, and totally out for herself. Totally.
Either will be problematic in the White House, but I will gamble on his set of problems in preference to hers.
On the issues, Trump is right about most of them by my lights and Hillary is wrong about most of them.
The list includes national security, national sovereignty, economic growth, health care, energy, education, environment, taxes, spending, minority opportunities, crime, immigration, Islam, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the Supreme Court.
Oh my, the Supreme Court — it’s for the next 40 years even if she’s only there for the next four years.
Finally, institutions. Again, just my personal view; others may differ and I respect their opinion. Other than the church, the one institution on earth most devoted to human freedom and human flourishing for everyone is the US Republican Party.
Democrats, though I have served with plenty of honorable ones, institutionally stand for dependence, manipulation, confiscation, redistribution, and utopian illusions. Bad mix.
So the Republican Party’s recommendation of who should hold power and what should be done with power weighs heavily with me.
Trump and Pence heading the ticket, continuation of a GOP House and Senate, and GOP leadership in the states, seems to me the best bet for an admittedly uncertain future in the hands of admittedly imperfect elected officials.
My email to this undecided-but-leaning-Clinton friend concluded:
You asked, Jack, so that’s my two cents. Your take, and that of quite a few others, seems to be that her allegedly high competence tips the balance against his allegedly low character.
I'd reply that those allegations on both counts are badly skewed and subjective. Even if Hillary's "mastery of governance," as you put it, were so (for which there is zero evidence in favor, and much against), her goals are so harmful to this country that any such mastery only makes America worse off faster.
No thanks, say I. Are we who support Trump taking a chance? Sure, but it's far the safer chance at a perilous time for this land we love. Please think again, walk thoughtfully through my three-I roadmap, and join me on the Trump Train.