In 2012, I told many people that America couldn't go wrong in the choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama for president. Both are eminently qualified and honest men. Both are fact-driven leaders. Both have inspired our better natures.
In 2016, America can’t go right. The likely choice between Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee, and Donald Trump from the Republican Party, is deeply unsatisfying.
Now I confess to having many disappointments with Obama’s administration. He has increasingly governed from the left, proven to be disrespectful of conservative values, and been disastrously inattentive to foreign policy crises in the Middle East and Russia.
But I do believe that the nation will miss him when he is gone — if only by virtue of contrast.
What’s wrong with Trump and Clinton? I’ve identified 10 criteria that I believe are necessary for the commander-in-chief. I wrote these with Donald Trump in mind, but I see now that many such deficits apply — although not quite equally — to Hillary Clinton.
Does or is the candidate:
1. Have a record of subscribing to policies that recognize the value of life. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who dropped from the race after his loss in Indiana, made this point repeatedly about Trump's persistent support for abortion and Trump's lack of support for conservative causes. Clinton is also not a conservative.
2. Factual, truthful and evidence-based, and not conspiratorial. When political or military decisions are made not on reason and verifiable facts, but on impulses or dark speculations, we retreat from our enlightenment heritage. Trump's conspiracies are endless, from the Sept. 11 attacks to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Clinton, too, has shared a penchant conspiratorial thinking.
3. Charitable in tone and not demeaning of adversaries. Trump's words and actions make a mockery of civility. Clinton’s tone is more elevated, but quite cutting of those who do not share her values.
4. Honest in his or her business dealings. Creditors owed money by Trump’s business organizations have suffered as he has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcies four times. Consider the moral implications of this refusal to pay debts for the United States government. Clinton's business dealings are not above reproach.
5. Shun corrupting influences. Trump plays the game of contributing to both Democratic and Republican candidates. Clinton is vulnerable on donations made by foreign entities to the Clinton Foundation of former President Bill Clinton, when she was secretary of state.
6. Subscribe to a high code of morality in his or her personal life. In books that he has written, Trump boasts about having affairs with women who are married. He seems to believe he has no need for repentance, ever.
7. Capable of being judged against an identifiable set of beliefs or standards. The rule of law and not men means that political leaders must be judged against principles. The “principle” articulated by Trump is Donald Trump. How can we judge success against this measure? Clinton, by contrast, can be measured against her party’s principles.
8. Likely to preside over sound economic policies. The economic protectionism espoused by Trump could well plunge America into a recession. On the economy, I expect that Clinton will run to the right of Trump.
9. Likely to preside over foreign policies that will ensure greater national security. Trump's impulsiveness and bullying are likely to create and exacerbate dangerous international incidents. As troubling as is Clinton's past record as secretary of state, I would trust her more than Trump on marshaling our diplomatic and military resources in times of both war and peace.
10. A uniting force, and not a divisive one, within the United States. The position of Republican Party front-runner that Trump already occupies puts our nation at risk of deep social strain. But Clinton’s divisive remarks about Republicans as an enemy show that Clinton, too, has thus far not been much of a uniter.
We must resist the urge to fear.
Barring the unexpected, and the possibility that Republican delegates select someone else as their party’s leader at its convention in Cleveland, what options do voters in Utah and across the country face? They could support Hillary Clinton, or they could support a third-party candidate.
Two months ago, I wrote about whether the Republicans needed to prepare for a new political party. One option that looks increasingly attractive is the Libertarian Party. Later this month, the party will hold its national political convention, and many are expecting that Gary Johnson, the two-term former governor of New Mexico (as a Republican), will emerge as the nominee.
After the departure of Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich from the race, Johnson wrote: “With millions of Americans now feeling politically ‘homeless,’ a two-term governor who balanced budgets, cut taxes, cut regulations and truly reduced the size of government may offer the home they are seeking.”
Drew Clark is of counsel at the law firm of Best Best and Krieger, where he focuses on technology, media and telecommunications. Connect on Twitter @drewclark or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.