It’s Time to Back Trump

Within the political and chattering class, some conservatives, describing themselves as part of the “Never Trump” movement, have attacked Donald Trump as a threat to the republic and the conservative movement while attacking GOP leaders who support him, like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, as sell-outs or charlatans. These attacks couldn’t be further from the truth. Most recently, Ohio Governor John Kasich has been generating headlines by distancing himself further from Trump, in an attempt to lay the groundwork for another run for the Presidency in 2020. Conservatives need to recognize that much, though not all, of what Trump has run on represents the future, not the demise, of the conservative movement. While he is an imperfect messenger, Hillary Clinton would likely do irreversible harm to this country, which is why conservatives must back Trump.

In April 1998, there were 17.64 million Americans working in the manufacturing sector; today that number is 12.28 million. Put another way, we’ve lost 800 jobs every day for 18 years. During this time, real median incomes have fallen, and the African-American poverty rate languishes over 25%.

The typical working American is worse off today than at the turn of the century; for this, both parties share blame. While economists focus on the lost decades nations like Japan have suffered, the simple fact is outside of Silicon Valley and the DC and NYC suburbs, much of America has suffered two lost decades as well, a symptom of a nation in decline.

Trump has refocused the debate around the plight of ordinary Americans, something conservatives have failed to do in recent years. Conservatism is an inherently populist ideology; we prefer giving power to everyday individuals than concentrate it in the hands of supposed experts. Conservatives have faith in the genius of every man and woman. Since 1988, that has been forgotten as the GOP became the Chamber of Commerce Party. Trump is rightly realigning the GOP around the working men and women of this country.

While Trump is imperfect, the general election is about who is the better candidate, making it a simple choice. Given his lack of a political record, there is some uncertainty about what he would do, but we can be certain of what Clinton will do. She will nominate liberals to the Supreme Court while he may nominate conservatives. Take even an area where Trump supposedly disagrees with orthodoxy: trade. Does anyone really believe the same government that has run VA hospitals so terribly negotiated perfect trade deals, particularly when we know China has amassed $3 trillion in reserves?

True, Trump lacks a foreign policy record and is something of a wildcard, but no record is better than a record littered with failure, from ISIS taking territory across the Middle East to China building militarized islands throughout the South China Sea. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton left a world on fire; no wonder global warming appears to be such a problem…

It is said every election, but in 2016, the stakes really could not be higher. Implicit in the Never Trump argument is the belief the damage of a Clinton Presidency is containable, which underappreciates the power of a party’s 3rd term in power. Controlling the White House for 12 years cements policies and structurally shifts the political center. The Roosevelt-Truman terms shifted the country left for two generations, making support for more entitlements and welfare the new political center as evidenced by Republicans eventual acceptance of Social Security. Similar, the three Reagan-Bush terms shifted the political center rightward for a generation on most economic issues with even Bill Clinton declaring the era of big government over.

Clinton will cement the leftward shift begun by Obama for a generation with Obamacare, political correctness, and new regulatory regimes across the economy becoming entrenched political facts, unlikely to be rolled back for years, if ever. For eight years, Obama has pushed our economy, society, and foreign policy footing into one that looks more like Europe. A Clinton Presidency makes a reversal from that path all but impossible. We see the results of Europe’s experiment, and they’re devastating: slow growth, high debt, chronic youth unemployment, and atrophying military power.

The race is tightening, and in the polling averages, Trump has taken the lead in Ohio and Iowa while other states like Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada are too close to call. With momentum at his back, now is the time for reluctant Republicans to get behind Trump. Whether Trump wins 85% or 90% of republican voters on November 8 could very well determine who wins the Presidency. Leaders like John Kasich must really ask themselves if they are willing to sow division and make it easier for Hillary Clinton to continue Obama’s disastrous policies as President.

Donald Trump is our last chance to turn back from the current path of decline and decay. Conservatives need to get behind the republican nominee or risk losing the country we all have fought so hard to build.

Time to Unite Behind Trump

While the media focuses exclusively on deepening divides within the Republican Party, we need to take a step back and remember the stakes of this election. A certain Senator this evening exhorted voters to “vote their conscience.” Yes, his non-endorsement of Donald Trump was clear, but let’s consider what our conscience actually demands of us.

Does your conscience consider the fact 3,400 Americans, many of them children, have been killed in the past 8 years in the city of Chicago acceptable? How about the fact the unemployment rate for African-American teenagers has risen in 2016 to 31%? Or that economic growth, the ultimate engine for lifting people out of poverty and into the middle class, is running at the slowest pace in a peace-time recovery since World War II? Are you comfortable with the fact that after years of decline, the violent crime rate has been rising since early 2015? Can your conscience tolerate the fact that Radical Islam is on the march, poisoning the minds of millions, seeping into Europe and even this country, while stripping millions of Muslim women and gays in the Middle East of basic human rights and dignity?

Are we willing to accept that this is the best that America can be? If your conscience says, “yes, the status quo is acceptable,” then perhaps you should vote for Hillary Clinton. After all, she is not an agent of change. Rather, she is beholden to an entrenched donor and political class that will continue the policies of President Barack Obama. Moreover, this status quo will persist beyond her 4 year term as she appoints judges, regulators, commissioners, and civil servants who could serve decades beyond her final day in office. A Hillary Clinton Presidency will cement our current trajectory for a generation. However, even if you are comfortable with the status quo, does your conscience permit you to vote for a woman of Hillary Clinton’s character? Obama’s own FBI Director noted Clinton’s “extreme carelessness” as she attempted to keep her emails secret from voters while exposing our nation’s secrets to our enemies. She even told the mother of an American killed in Benghazi that a video was the cause of the attack while telling her own daughter and a foreign diplomat otherwise. If Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted to tell a grieving mother the truth, can she be trusted in the event of a national crisis?

True to the American spirit of perpetually seeking national betterment, perhaps your conscience says the status quo isn’t good enough, that we can do better. That we can turn a safety net that merely makes poverty more palatable into a safety trampoline which makes poverty less prevalent. That we should give all parents choice where their children go to school to end the vicious circle of entrenched poverty. That we can accelerate growth by returning power and freedom to the most innovate citizenry the world has ever known. That we have a leader who is unafraid to call out evil in the world by its true name and work to eradicate it, instead of merely downplaying it.

Doing better requires doing something else. It requires voting not for an all-talk-no-action entrenched DC elite but for an outsider who is a doer not a talker. Doesn’t our conscience demand a vote for Donald Trump? We need a President who will cease to accept the decline into mediocrity that is our present course. Would we not rather have Paul Ryan as a governing partner with a Republican White House than as a leader of the opposition against yet another Democrat President who is simply presenting the same old ideas in new packaging?

If we believe conservative principles will make American lives better, we have a moral imperative to vote for the candidate most likely to institute them. Without a doubt, that candidate is Donald Trump, helped by his fantastic running mate, Mike Pence, and a partner in Congress in Speaker Ryan. I will vote my conscience, and it demands a vote for Donald Trump.

He offers change. She offer more of the same. He will return power to ordinary people and to the markets to free up the economy, boost working Americans, and improve social mobility. She will continue the same top-heavy policies that have seen weakened growth and ever-rising inequality. He will restore strength around the world after a President who has let American power recede by backing off red lines, downplaying Radical Islamic terror, and letting China expand in the South China Sea. Her foreign policy? Well, let’s put it this way: if global warming is such a major problem, perhaps the fact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left a world on fire shares some of the blame.

Let’s unite and win in 2016.

Conseratives: Don’t Pledge #NeverTrump

On Friday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump, stepping on whatever debate momentum Senator Marco Rubio had and becoming the first major elected official to support the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President. Conservatives lit up the Governor for his endorsement with some like Erick Erickson pledging never to support Trump. In fact, #NeverTrump was trending across the United States on Friday night as conservatives lined up against Trump, making the same pledge as Erickson. This is a mistake.

Let me be clear, I am not suggesting conservatives vote for Trump in the Republican primary as I am not a Trump supporter. I have supported Ohio Governor John Kasich since he announced last summer and continue to today (full disclosure: I have also donated to his campaign). I believe Kasich is the only candidate running today with any meaningful accomplishments in government, has an excellent record in Ohio, plays to our hopes rather than our fears, and is eminently electable. Across the board, Kasich is a better choice than Trump or Rubio or Senator Ted Cruz. I hope you vote for him in the primary.

That said, Trump is the clear frontrunner for the nomination (I would peg his odds at roughly 70%), and for the sake of argument, let’s assume he is the nominee. What should conservatives do in the General when he faces Clinton? Those saying #NeverTrump are pledging not to vote for him in that election, which is an error. Conservatives have five choices: stay home, vote 3rd party, don’t vote in the Presidential election but vote in down-ballot races, vote Hillary Clinton, or vote Trump. Hopefully, we agree staying home is the worst choice and a dereliction of civic duty. There are still important down-ballot races with qualified conservatives, and those candidates need our support. In the event of a credible 3rd party candidate (I would define credible as consistently polling in the 20’s), there may be a strong case to vote for that person over Trump or Hillary (I think this may happen with Mitt Romney possibly running as an independent conservative). Let’s set that scenario aside, as the question is whether it is wise to pledge never to support Trump, no if, ands, or buts. That leaves: Trump, Hillary, or blank ballot.

Ultimately, choosing a blank ballot or voting for Hillary makes it more likely she will be President by lowering the number of Democrat and Independent votes she must draw. I struggle to see how conservatives are better off with Clinton than Trump. Yes, Trump has changed positions on many issues over the years, but Clinton is a committed leftist who has moved further left to ward off the challenge from a socialist. On matters of policy, I am sympathetic to the notion Trump is a wildcard given his inconsistency, but is he going to be worse than Hillary? Yes, there is a risk Trump nominates a liberal to the Supreme Court, but is there any doubt Hillary would? Sometimes, you are better with the devil you don’t know than the devil you do, which would be the case in a Trump v. Clinton election even for conservatives more dubious of Trump than me.

In a vacuum, would Donald Trump be my choice for President? No, but general elections are choices. Not choosing one is a choice for the other; opposing Trump helps Hillary. Trump is a gamble, yes, but Clinton is a sure-fire losing hand. Relative to Hillary, the risk of a Trump Presidency is skewed to the upside. Trump is also not wrong on everything; he is right we need to be tougher on China. They hack our systems, steal our intellectual property, and are taking territory in the China Sea. He is right that the working class is being screwed; median wages are lower than when George W. Bush became President. Both parties are to blame. On foreign affairs, I would also note Clinton has not been a particular success. How’s the Russian reset? Or Libyan intervention? Or situation in Syria? I do think Trump is peddling some fiction to get elected (note: I am not excusing this behavior) and would govern more as a centrist technocrat, so I believe he would be a more competent President than Clinton. Even if you disagree with that assessment, which is admitted speculation, Clinton will be at least as damaging to the conservative cause as he would be given her platform. She will certainly push for leftist policies whereas he may not. His upside exceeds his downside relative to Clinton.

I would also note that much of what conservatives hate/fear (the Muslim ban, his insults, his comments on libel laws, his finger on the nuclear button etc.) are likely campaign bluster. Again, I am not excusing that behavior, but it suggests he could be a fine President. Even if I am wrong, our government has well-built structures that limit the power of the President, ensuring these positions could not become law. The strength of our institutions deserve more credit than some alarmists let on, further diminishing his downside. While Trump enjoys a Twitter tirade, he has a history of avoiding direct confrontation (with the exception of his personal punching bag, Jeb Bush) as illustrated by his handling of Megyn Kelly among others. I see no reason to feel less safe with Trump our Commander-in-Chief than Clinton.

#NeverTrump conservatives should also ask themselves whether his VP choice could sway them. Ultimatums made rashly can make one look foolish when one reverses or keep one anchored to bad positions out of an aversion to reversing. Does Cruz (or someone else) allay some concerns? If yes, perhaps, it is best to wait for him to make that choice. Assuming he is the nominee, who Trump picks as his VP will be fascinating and enlightening. If I were to make 5 guesses, I would go (in descending order of likelihood): David Petraeus, a business person (to emphasize the anti-politician theme—this un-named pick on my part is a clear cop-out), John Kasich, Bill O’Reilly, and Chris Christie. Who really knows though?

The General Election is a choice, and Trump is a better one than Clinton, especially as his worst ideas won’t become law with any reasonable congress if he even pursues them.

Conservatives could stand to benefit from some of Trump’s populism, and we do need toughness against China. He would also likely surround himself with smart people, providing wise council. A couple dozen people I know, whose judgment I respect and whose character is unimpeachable, are Trump supporters, and their support may have softened my opposition. The twittersphere showcases the worst of his support but is not representative of much of his base. Questions of moral fitness aside, I do think Trump, whom would likely govern as a centrist and pragmatist, would be a decent President, and the fact Clinton with her server and serial lying is equally unfit renders that concern moot in the General Election.

Conservatives have every right to oppose Trump in the primary. However should he be the nominee (very likely), we should be anti-Hillary in 2016, and this may mean voting for Donald Trump. Pledging #NeverTrump is a mistake.

If you like what you read, follow me on Twitter too!

Trump’s Path to 270

Without a doubt, Donald Trump was the political story of 2015, showing more staying power than just about every analyst predicted. Back in mid-September (when I began pondering probabilities), I thought Trump had a 20% chance on the nomination and now give him a 30.8% (4/13) shot (chart below) with a growing risk I am too low. A Trump nomination scares the establishment in part because they believe he cannot beat Hillary Clinton, and most public polling shows him faring worse than either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. This begs the question: should he win the nomination, can Trump actually win the general election? While he would start out as a clear underdog, I do see a viable path for Trump to get the needed 270 electoral votes and would peg the odds in the 10-20% range.

odds.png

Now, two major caveats: first, any chance for Trump to get to 270 assumes that a well-funded moderate republican does not run as a third party candidate. Such a candidate, perhaps aiming to help republicans hold the House and Senate by keeping Clinton’s share of the vote in the low 50%’s, would stop Trump from having a realistic shot, a republican Ralph Nader if you will. This analysis assumes a 2-candidate race. Second, events can overwhelm political candidates; for instance, the failure of Lehman Brothers ended any chance John McCain had of being President in 2008. If on Election Day Barack Obama sports a 30% approval rating, democrats will not win a third term, almost regardless of who Republicans nominate. Conversely in Obama sits at 65%, Clinton will almost surely be President. Presumably, concerns about a Trump candidacy reside not in these “tail scenarios” but assume the dynamics stay somewhat similar, ie Obama approval in the 43-53% range. As such, that is the focus of this analysis. Arguing Trump could win if the Obama Administration totally implodes doesn’t really address the question after all.

Recognizing his flaws (and strengths) as a candidate and the fact he would be an underdog, Trump would need to pursue an entirely different electoral strategy than the “generic” Republican, which would manifest in two ways: the states he focuses on and his VP. Conventional wisdom is that Republicans should not have another all-white male ticket, needing to perform better with women or Hispanics. Along those lines, the path to 270 consists of carrying the Mitt Romney states, adding Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and then one of: New Hampshire, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, or Pennsylvania. That makes sense and is the most plausible strategy for most Republicans, who carry those states by turning out a few more Republican voters, slightly improving on Romney’s share of the white vote by lessening the gender gap, and doing upwards of 10% better among Hispanics. Thread the needle appropriately, and the party can squeak past 270.

However given his incendiary rhetoric, Trump is unlikely to do better than Romney among Hispanics, and he may also struggle to close the gender gap. In fact, his rhetoric and call for mass-deportations could make it easier for Clinton to turn out even more Hispanic votes than Obama was able to. At the same time (despite being perhaps 40x wealthier), Trump seems to connect with middle and working class white voters far better than Romney, given his focus on returning manufacturing jobs and blaming China, Mexico, wealthy donors, and stupid trade deals for our economic ills. More than anything, Trump is running as a populist. Remember, the country has shed about 5 million manufacturing jobs in the past 20 years, so this message can resonate in particular areas strongly. Doubling down on this rhetoric could help Trump increase white turnout and improve upon Romney’s share of the white vote in some states, meaning he could have a better chance in Pennsylvania than Florida.

Now, that sentence should make clear how poorly positioned Trump would be. Despite getting crushed nationally, Romney nearly held on to Florida (losing by less than 1%) while Pennsylvania is a perpetual “fool’s gold” for republicans. Polls often show a somewhat tight race, but its electorate is just not very elastic (i.e. there are few voters who switch from party to party), meaning republicans almost inevitably come up short. Unlike say New Hampshire where a large swath of voters are independent-thinking, making it possible for a GOP win, there are so few winnable true independent PA voters that is a monumental undertaking for the GOP to get to 50.01%. If you are betting on PA over FL, you are starting at a major disadvantage as a Republican candidate. Below I have placed the two maps that are the most probable Trump paths to victory (note Romney Plus includes all Romney states while Upper Midwest includes all Romney states less North Carolina) as well as each state “in play” by the share of their 2012 electorate that was white and the share of the white vote Romney and Obama received.

Upper Midwest Path (275 electoral votes):

www_270towin

Romney Plus Path (274 electoral votes):

nc.png

New Hampshire (52-46.4% Obama): 93% white, (51-47% Obama)

Iowa (52-46.2% Obama): 93% white, (51-47% Obama)

Minnesota (52.7-45% Obama): 87% white, (49-48% Romney)

Wisconsin (52.8-45.9% Obama): 86% white, (51-48% Romney)

Ohio (50.7-47.7% Obama): 79% white, (57-41% Romney)

Pennsylvania (52-46.6% Obama: 78% white, (57-42% Romney)

Colorado (51.5-46.1% Obama): 78% white, (54-44% Romney)

Michigan (54.2-44.7% Obama): 77% white, (55-44% Romney)

Virginia (51.2-47.3% Obama): 70% white, (61-37% Romney)

North Carolina (50.4-48.4% Romney): 70% white, (68-31% Romney)

Florida (50-49.1% Obama): 67% white, (61-37% Romney)

Nevada (52.4-45.7% Obama): 64% white, (56-43% Romney)

Now, there are some interesting takeaways here. The states the generic Republican would focus on have on average a lower share of the white vote (NC, FL, VA for instance), which follows from their desire to increase Hispanic support. Longer-term, this is a strategic necessity for the party as the white share of the vote declines every day. However for Trump, the focus lies on the Upper Midwest and Rust Belt where weakness among Hispanics is a near irrelevancy.

It is also unwise to think of “the white vote” as monolithic, just as it is wrong to lump all Hispanics or women together. Trump is unlikely to do demonstrably better among upper class whites or those in the service sector than Romney; instead, his focus would be on the working class and those in manufacturing. His economic rhetoric is directed at these individuals, and much of his support in primary polls comes from these voters. These voters are far more prevalent in PA, MI, OH than in VA, CO, or FL. In other words, there is more room to “grow” the white share in the upper Midwest. In states like FL (61%), VA (61%), NC (68%), there is a case to be made that Romney did nearly as well as possible among white voters while leaving some on the table in MI, WI, IA. For instance, Romney’s strong performance with whites and the risk of higher minority turnout due to Trump mean North Carolina could plausibly fall to the Democrats while stronger turnout and support in the Western Half of the state could put Pennsylvania in the GOP column.

Additionally in the “near GOP” states like Florida, Romney did a better job closing the gender gap, winning 58% of white women whereas he on average he fared worse in the Upper Midwest (losing 38-60% among women in Minnesota for instance). If the gender gap widens nationally, that likely hurts disproportionately in FL vs. MN where there are fewer women left to lose. It also means Trump can’t pick up Virginia, especially with Northern VA increasingly being the place where Republican dreams go to die, but his anti-trade rhetoric could have appeal in Michigan, which has been ground zero in lost manufacturing jobs.

The path to 270 for Trump relies on recognizing he will likely do worse than Romney with Hispanic and women voters, making states like CO, FL, and VA very difficult, but has room to grow among working class whites in PA, MI, MN, and WI. That means focusing on those states and continuing an economic message focused on lost manufacturing jobs and offshoring. Clearly, that message has resonated with GOP-leaning voters in that cohort, irrespective of whether Trump is actually offering solutions that will fix the underlying problems (another issue entirely). If Trump can hold serve on African Americans (ie keep the pathetic ~4% Romney got), lose Hispanics by another 5-10%, but pick up another 5% of the white vote (ie go from 49% to 54% in Minnesota) by focusing on a message that clearly has some resonance with disenchanted members of the middle and working class, he could pull off a Midwest sweep and sneak just past 270. Is it easy? No, relying on PA and MN (30 EVs) to offset FL (29 EVs) is far from ideal, but it isn’t impossible. In fact, one could argue that Cruz doesn’t have a much better chance than Trump in the General because while Cruz should be able to hold Romney’s Hispanics, he doesn’t (at this point at least) seem to have the same appeal to Americans earning under 50k.

Last, Trump needs to pick a VP in-line with this electoral strategy. Given his outsider message, he also probably couldn’t pick an established politician or DC insider. There would be a logic to say, Governor Mike Huckabee, whose evangelical credentials shore up the right flank and who also has a populist message. However, when you are the clear underdog, it calls for going for the Hail Mary. Going for a 60 yard TD is never the percentage play on a typical down but when on the 40-yd line with 3 seconds on the clock, a big pass is the only shot at winning. With this “play to win” mindset, I would argue General David Petraeus is the wisest VP choice for Trump.

Yes, Petraeus comes with substantial risk (it wouldn’t be a Hail Mary otherwise); namely, providing classified information to his girlfriend over email. However, Clinton is uniquely poorly positioned to make this attack given her far worse email indiscretions. Putting Petraeus on the ticket dares Democrats to get into a fight about emails, and it is almost certainly a fight that will not go well for them. With Hillary as the nominee, his biggest liability is greatly diminished.

On the positive side, his military bonafides would go a long way to give Americans confidence Trump won’t be “trigger-happy” in military affairs and will be getting real advice. That could make a Trump Presidency palatable to many more Americans. Last, as CIA Director on 9/11/12, Petraeus knows what happened in Benghazi and what the Administration knew and when it knew it. He also knows how many security warnings were given prior to then that were ignored. In the past, there have been some incendiary claims that Petraeus wanted the talking points to include more references to terrorism but was silenced by the Administration, which preferred the since debunked video explanation. If these claims are true, could you imagine him beginning his VP acceptance speech at the GOP convention in Cleveland by saying, “Hillary Clinton and President Obama lied to you to win an election”? If that happened (no sure thing), the whole campaign would be shaken. Even without any Benghazi re-litigation, Petraeus, by giving the Trump ticket military credibility, would be a wise VP pick.

Is Trump well positioned to beat Hillary Clinton? No, he isn’t, given the easiest states to pick up, like FL, would be uniquely challenging for Trump assuming likely problems with Hispanic voters materialize. However with much of his campaign focused on the working and middle class, who have been left behind under Presidents Obama, Bush, and to a degree even Clinton, Trump could have a path through the Upper Midwest by doubling down on populist economics and attacks on bad trade deals. It would be a different campaign with different battlegrounds with the potential of being eminently entertaining. A Trump nomination doesn’t ensure a GOP washout, it just means pursuing an Upper Midwest strategy, with maybe a 15% likelihood of success.

Ideal? No. Panic-inducing? Not really, especially if he picks someone like Petraeus to run with. Trump has proven the prognosticators and GOP establishment wrong thus far. Just maybe, he can continue to do so.

When Character Matters: Why Hillary Clinton is Unfit to Serve

The beauty of democracy is also its tragedy: the citizenry gets what it deserves (with rare exceptions). Unengaged, undemanding publics almost without fail get political leaders who exploit the system for personal gain. Conversely, engaged publics whom enforce high standards for political offices tend to elect leaders worthy of the title. Admittedly, some sycophants sneak through, but they are the exception, not the rule.

When political leaders abuse the system, it is not because the citizenry deserved more but because it demanded too little. Voters who downplay the ethical requirements of high office deserve little sympathy when a snake oil salesman takes power. Ultimately, voters need to determine whether candidates are ethically and morally fit to serve before even considering whether their policy platforms are wise. Being worthy of the office is, or at least should be, a pre-requisite.

This theoretical digression is intended to ground the following commentary on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the Presidency. Whatever one’s view of her policy positions, it is becoming eminently clear that she is unfit to serve the office she seeks. These words are not uttered carelessly, for it is a serious charge. One must also be cognizant not to be the partisan hack whose first arrow in the quiver is the personal attack. Calling into question a candidate’s ethical grounding and motives is serious and requires overwhelming facts not idle speculation.

At every turn, Secretary Clinton’s decision-making seems motivated by a singular question: what decision will further my political career? She is a political opportunist, happy to pander to the nearest constituency, and more than willing to push laws (or at least the public’s trust) to their breaking point, if not beyond. Of course should she be caught in a contradiction or ethical quandary, Clinton steadfastly refuses to issue a sincere apology, at best she offers an apology at the behest of the donor class, which is quickly walked back in subsequent news stories (see NY Times in re her email apology). An ethically dubious political opportunist incapable of apologizing? Upon closer inspection, it is difficult to decipher any distinction from Donald Trump.

The charge she is unfit to serve also goes beyond a handful of flip-flops, for while they are unpleasant, a couple of policy changes has become so commonplace it would disqualify just about everyone (this is perhaps a sad statement on our political reality). For instance, Clinton’s opposition to the Keystone Pipeline was a clear example of political pandering, why after all did she wait until polls showed some softness before opposing it when she had countless opportunities to do so over the years? Unpalatable? Yes. Disqualifying? No.

Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal was more egregious. After all as President Obama’s Secretary of State, she played a key role negotiating it. In her memoir, she described TPP as “important for American workers” and a key aspect of America’s pivot to Asia. In fairness, she retired prior to the completion of the deal, so perhaps our negotiating prowess collapsed without her watchful supervision. Perhaps…Of course, her opposition to TPP—citing the lack of credible safeguards and enforcement mechanisms—is on its face ludicrous given her support for the exceptionally lax Iran Deal.

On Friday October 23rd, the pandering reached a new zenith of absurdity when Clinton told Rachel Maddow the following on the Defense of Marriage Act:

12063750_974450825929339_6990104269473157735_n

One’s view on whether DOMA was a good law is essentially irrelevant. Its intent, until now, has been beyond dispute: to keep the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Republicans wrote the law, so Clinton is essentially arguing that the 1996 republican majority was secretly trying to protect gay rights in a defensive fashion. Does anyone believe that? Plus, her husband signed the bill into law and subsequently used his support to shore up votes in the Christian community, erasing any (miniscule) chance Senator Dole had in the election. Either Bill Clinton lied in 1996 about his motives or Hillary Clinton is lying today. Why the senseless pandering that any rational person can see through? Public sentiment on this issue has changed so rapidly that voters would accept a mea culpa with little hesitation and move on, yet Clinton again shows herself incapable of apologizing. Why apologize when you can lie after all? Even Bernie Sanders, who refused to take her on over her “damn emails,” took this on at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner and in subsequent Sunday show appearances. Such bald-faced lying demeans what should be a serious campaign (both sides often come up woefully short on this aspiration I concede).

Speaking of those emails, that really is a far graver offense. Hillary Clinton opted not to have a computer in her office, yet for convenience used a personal server for her email? If you buy that, I have a bridge to sell you. The only reasonable explanation for this decision is that she wanted control over her emails and the ability to decide which ones to hand over to taxpayers. If not illegal, this decision certainly undermines the public trust, for something nefarious does seem afoot. It distorts the natural order that public servants work for the public in favor of officials determining what the public is fortunate enough to have access to. Deleting 30,000 emails is clearly wrong. Once work and personal emails are co-mingled, the only acceptable solution is to turn over all emails to an independent commission and let them determine what it is in the public domain. Work emails are the public’s property; to delete just one mistakenly is theft. A public official cannot flout protocol and common sense and be rewarded by determining herself what to turn over. We may as well start handing out “get out of jail free” cards.

In her quest for control, Clinton also recklessly risked national security—the idea a private server is more secure against a foreign hacking is laughable if it weren’t so troubling. Plus, she received and sent classified information over the server, dozens if not hundreds of times. In the eyes of the law, whether a document was actually marked classified is entirely irrelevant, and as Secretary of State, Clinton was made aware of that fact. Her blatant disregard for protocol is alarming and shows a willingness to put personal interest (i.e. the ability to interact beyond the reach of her employer, taxpayers) ahead of the nation’s interest (i.e. keeping classified interest, you know, classified).

Together, these actions, her server the most egregious, showcase a politician with a troubling ethical compass (and we aren’t even discussing the 1990’s!), but on Thursday, we received the capstone. In a Benghazi committee hearing where the media narrative was already written before the first word was spoken, we learned that Clinton knew the Benghazi attack was indeed a terrorist attack that very night, telling Chelsea as much. However, in the following days, she went along with the Administration story that a video led to a spontaneous demonstration gone awry, telling the victims’ families as much.

What is more heartless than looking in the eyes of a grieving family and spinning a lie to protect poll numbers? Don’t we demand our political leaders to be honest, particularly during a moment of crisis? By bringing forth this new email, Rep. Jim Jordan provided the smoking gun to a crime almost all fair-minded knew was committed. Did Clinton break the law by backing a story she knew was wrong? No (in the world of intelligence, one can always find some legal wiggle-room), but don’t we demand more of our leaders than merely following the law? Shouldn’t we hold them to a higher standard of actually doing the right thing? What a novel concept.

Pandering on every controversial issue, leaving us unsure what she actually believes. Patently lying about the intentions of a key law her husband signed. Endangering national security to keep her communication away from taxpayers. And now, clearly deceiving the nation and families about a terrorist attack. Is such a person worthy of the office of the Presidency? If someone is willing to commit such acts to attain political power, what will that person do to retain it? Is that the sort of person you entrust the nation to, even if you think she’s right on tax policy?