October 3, 2016

Why I can’t vote for either Clinton or Trump.

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If ever there were a year for voters to vote “none of the above” in a presidential election, this is it.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are deeply unpopular and deeply flawed candidates. Neither deserves the public’s support.

Unfortunately, “none of the above” is not an option on the ballot. Voters can, however, vote for a third-party candidate, such as Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party Jill Stein, or they can write someone in.

Voters disgusted with what Democrats and Republicans have put before them should be sure to cast some vote, and it should be one that makes clear to both major parties that they need to do better than Trump and Clinton.

The broad frustration against politicians of both parties is visceral. I do not blame people for their anger. I refuse to be used as a pawn for the rich and powerful during each election any longer. We deserve exceptional leadership. Yet, this is where the presidential election stands.

My new voter’s card recently arrived in the mail. As I opened it, I remembered the excitement I felt a quarter century ago when I voted for the first time.

Like similar rites of passage, I knew about the importance of voting back then. I almost tingled as I took my photo identification and card to the local precinct. Finally, I had a voice in my country’s future…and it was Republican.

My family couldn’t believe my fascination with the GOP. I lost count of how many cousins expressed their support for Bill Clinton and admiration for Barrack Obama. “The Republicans always support rich people over us working folk,” my Aunt Mammie Frazier often said. “Well, at least you vote. I guess that’s something,” she’d add.

The idea of America as a shining city upon a hill resonated with me. Jack Kemp championed tax cuts, school choice and enterprise zones. Robert Woodson championed self-help for the inner city. And with elegant prose and erudition, National Review provided the firepower that fueled conservatism. Back then, Republicans had the ideas that supported free market capitalism and ignited my imagination.

Today, I struggle with the course of our country. Both major parties are failing us, and I want nothing to do with them. That’s why I needed a new voter registration card—to verify that I am now unaffiliated. I declared my independence and now look at the presidential election with fresh, clear eyes.

America is involved in never-ending Middle Eastern conflicts. President Obama promised peace but is leading from behind. Iran is determined to test our military. Beijing and Moscow are on the march. The rest of the world is unraveling.

At home, the economy is underperforming. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew about one percent for two quarters this year. While unemployment is low, the labor force participation rate (the number of employed individuals or people actively looking for a job) has dropped. Nearly 94 million Americans do not work, but are not considered unemployed.

With that backdrop of uncertainty, Donald Trump sprinted passed his primary opponents. He relies on bluster and ego, not sound conservative principles. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, he declared that nobody knows the system better than he does, which is why he alone can fix it. The convention floor roared its approval.

If America trusts only one person to rescue it from its struggle, our republic is in even greater peril than many think. The Founding Fathers did not intend for someone like Trump to take over. Trump’s language is the rhetoric of dictator, not someone who cherishes freedom.

Yet the Democratic alternative inspires little confidence. Hillary Clinton prides herself on having extensive public policy experience. Her record provides little reassurance. While she was secretary of state, the Middle East became more unstable and our adversaries more relentless. She attached herself to Obama’s bandwagon only as a political calculation. Beyond the next step in her career, there is no compelling justification for her becoming president.

Half of the individuals from outside the government who met with Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state gave money to the Clinton Foundation. That undermines the banner of change she tries to carry. Moreover, her aloofness and sense of destiny leaves the impression that everyone else is but a pawn serving the Clintons’ royal court. If not for her unfavorable ratings, this whole process would become a coronation.

Americans should not tolerate a potential dictator or a queen waiting for her crown. When in doubt, look toward the lessons of history.

George Washington possessed a democratic character and the right temperament to set the tone for our nation. The people govern our republic, and they need a leader who can manage his or her emotions. Washington had enough support to become king if he wanted. Instead, he returned the reins of power to the people.

Without a true heir to Washington on the ballot this year and in the spirit of independence, I am comfortable writing in a candidate. We have a choice to make between a political aristocrat and a reality-star ruffian.

A president’s ego must surrender to obligations of the office. We need someone who can lead this country in facing our nation’s future challenges, someone with the gravitas and reputation worthy of the highest office in the land.

Neither Clinton nor Trump fit the bill.

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