Conservatives & Republicans for Clinton

Leading conservatives opine on why they are supporting Secretary Hillary Clinton

For many conservative editorial pages, government officials and columnists, being for Clinton doesn’t make you a liberal.

One of the most striking things about this election season is the degree to which leading Republicans — people who I have long respected, even while disagreeing with them — have refused to support Donald Trump.

Arguably, many of those who are most committed to conservative principles — people who believe in limited government, trade, and a strong defense — are supporting Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.

As a moderate Republican turned Democrat, I realize that my words may or may not have an impact on the minds of my conservative friends and family members. But I hope the words of these conservative writers just might.

On the Stakes of this Election

The Cincinnati Enquirer had not, until this year, endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate in more than a century. These are no liberals, but they did not mince words in making their preference known.

“This is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst. That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.”

They went on to call Trump a “clear and present danger to our country.”

On Foreign Policy

Foreign policy has been a particularly major point of contention for both conservative editorial boards, and former national security leaders.

The Enquirer again:

“…[Trump] has no history of governance that should engender any confidence from voters. Trump has no foreign policy experience, and the fact that he doesn’t recognize it — instead insisting that, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” — is even more troubling. His wild threats to blow Iranian ships out of the water if they make rude gestures at U.S. ships is just the type of reckless, cowboy diplomacy Americans should fear from a Trump presidency.”

Meanwhile, the San-Diego Union Tribune — the hometown paper for a hefty chunk of the American Pacific fleet and one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the entire world — warned of Trump’s coziness to Russia and his apparent willingness to abandon our allies.

“Based on what Trump has said, we could see an administration that’s friendlier to ruthless Russia — which is waging a cyberwar against America — than to such democracies and historic partners as Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Japan and Australia.
“We could see an administration that reneges on its treaty commitments to dozens of nations, throwing the world into turmoil and increasing tensions in regions that historically have relied on the United States to be a stabilizing force.”

Again, these words come from a paper that has never — until this year — endorsed a Democrat for president.

Importantly, these warnings about Trump stand in contrast to the what people like Michael Morrell have seen from Secretary Hillary Clinton. Background: Morrell is a 30-year CIA veteran who was standing at George W. Bush’s side on September 11th and would go on to become CIA Director.

“I spent four years working with Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state, most often in the White House Situation Room. In these critically important meetings, I found her to be prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument.
I also saw the secretary’s commitment to our nation’s security; her belief that America is an exceptional nation that must lead in the world for the country to remain secure and prosperous; her understanding that diplomacy can be effective only if the country is perceived as willing and able to use force if necessary; and, most important, her capacity to make the most difficult decision of all — whether to put young American women and men in harm’s way.”

On Economic Policy

For a party — the Republican Party — that has rightly (in my view) seen free trade as vital to America’s long-term economic prosperity, it seems telling that Trump has completely abandoned decades of Republican economic policy. People like former Republican Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson go further to take issue with the very concept that Trump is a ‘good businessman.’

“Let’s start by talking about his business acumen. When Trump assures us he’ll do for the United States what he’s done for his businesses, that’s not a promise — it’s a threat. The tactics he has used in running his business wouldn’t work in running a truly successful company, let alone the most powerful nation on Earth.
Every good businessman or -woman carefully analyzes all the available facts before making a decision. Trump repeatedly, blatantly and knowingly makes up or gravely distorts facts to support his positions or create populist divisions.
He excels at scorched-earth tactics in negotiations during bankruptcy proceedings. Here, the “Art of the Deal” businessman is a master at advantaging himself over his fellow stakeholders and partners.”

As a private businessman, Trump can get away with these tactics, and we don’t necessarily see the consequences they present. But as president, it’s all of us who will be stuck cleaning up Trump’s mess.

On Clinton’s Record of Bipartisan Compromise

One ironic element of this election has been that — of either candidate — the one that has the greatest track record of working with Republicans to get things done has been the Democratic nominee.

Consider this from the conservative Dallas Morning News, another paper that almost never endorses Democrats for President.

“In Clinton’s eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress’ most conservative lawmakers.”

Or this from the Arizona Republic, a paper that — like the Tribune Review — had never endorsed a Democrat for president until this year.

Hillary Clinton has long been a centrist. Despite her tack left to woo Bernie Sanders supporters, Clinton retains her centrist roots.

The Enquirer also lauds her work with conservatives and track record of legislative success.

Clinton is a known commodity with a proven track record of governing. As senator of New York, she earned respect in Congress by working across the aisle and crafting bills with conservative lawmakers. She helped 9/11 first responders get the care they needed after suffering health effects from their time at Ground Zero, and helped expand health care and family leave for military families. Clinton has spent more than 40 years fighting for women’s and children’s rights. As first lady, she unsuccessfully fought for universal health care but helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program that provides health care to more than 8 million kids today.

I would add that my former boss, Rep. (now Sen.) Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.VA., helped write West Virginia’s version of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Rather than some liberal give-away, this program has the strong support from thoughtful Republicans nationwide.

On Clintons Flaws

To be clear, these papers and conservative writers see plenty to criticize in Hillary Clinton. But they put such criticism in perspective, noting that the ‘vehemence of some of the anti-Clinton attacks strains credulity.”

Again, the Arizona Republic:

Make no mistake: Hillary Clinton has flaws. She has made serious missteps. Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State was a mistake, as she has acknowledged. Donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of State raise concerns that donors were hoping to buy access. Though there is no evidence of wrongdoing, she should have put up a firewall.
Yet despite her flaws, Clinton is the superior choice. She does not casually say things that embolden our adversaries and frighten our allies. Her approach to governance is mature, confident and rational. That cannot be said of her opponent.
Clinton retains her composure under pressure. She’s tough. She doesn’t back down. Trump responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads. That’s beneath our national dignity. When the president of the United States speaks, the world expects substance. Not a blistering tweet.

And the Dallas Morning News:

Clinton has remained dogged by questions about her honesty, her willingness to shade the truth. Her use of a private email server while secretary of state is a clear example of poor judgment. She should take additional steps to divorce allegations of influence peddling from the Clinton Foundation. And she must be more forthright with the public by holding news conferences, as opposed to relying on a shield of carefully scripted appearances and speeches.
Those are real shortcomings. But they pale in comparison to the litany of evils some opponents accuse her of. Treason? Murder? Her being cleared of crimes by investigation after investigation has no effect on these political hyenas; they refuse to see anything but conspiracies and cover-ups.
We reject the politics of personal destruction. Clinton has made mistakes and displayed bad judgment, but her errors are plainly in a different universe than her opponent’s.

On the World Stage

While not necessarily conservative voices, I also think it’s worth considering what America’s friends abroad are thinking right now. It is unmistakably clear that the President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world, which means that our allies and enemies around the world have a real stake in this election. Perhaps that is why Russia has been so intent on attempting to sabotage it.

I digress, but urge readers to consider words like the following from the Globe and Mail to remember that America’s place in the world matters.

“This U.S. election, unlike any since the Second World War, is white knuckle time for the rest of the world. Foreign governments don’t want to interfere in your democracy, so they can’t say what they really think about Trump. But we can. We’re terrified.
We can’t believe that given a choice between one mildly flawed candidate and another peddling an explosive combo of bad ideas, no ideas and zero self-control, you’re having trouble choosing.
Does the entire planet feel this way? No. If you want to cheer up Vladimir Putin, or bring a smile to the faces of the hard men who rule China, then by all means, pull the lever for Trump. But the rest of us, your friends and allies in the free world, are pushing the panic button.”

Final Thoughts

To close, I’ll offer the words of David Frum, a speechwriter for George W. Bush credited with crafting Bush’s compassionate conservatism.

One of only two people on earth will win the American presidency on November 8. Hillary Clinton is one of those two possibilities. Donald Trump is the only other.
Yes, I fear Clinton’s grudge-holding. Should I fear it so much that I rally to a candidate who has already explicitly promised to deploy antitrust and libel law against his critics and opponents? Who incited violence at his rallies? Who ejects reporters from his events if he objects to their coverage? Who told a huge audience in Australia that his top life advice was: “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it”? Who idealizes Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, and the butchers of Tiananmen as strong leaders to be admired and emulated?
Should I be so appalled by the Clinton family’s access-selling that I prefer instead a president who boasts of a lifetime of bribing politicians to further his business career? Who defaults on debts and contracts as an ordinary business method, and who avoids taxes by deducting the losses he inflicted on others as if he had suffered them himself? Who cheated the illegal laborers he employed at Trump Tower out of their humble hourly wage? Who owes hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bank of China? Who refuses to disclose his tax returns, perhaps to conceal his business dealings with Vladimir Putin’s inner circle?
To demonstrate my distaste for people whose bodies contain mean bones, it’s proposed that I give my franchise to a man who boasts of his delight in sexual assault? Who mocks the disabled, who denounces immigrant parents whose son laid down his life for this country, who endorses religious bigotry, and who denies the Americanism of everyone from the judge hearing the fraud case against Trump University to the 44th president of the United States?

Voting for Hillary Clinton doesn’t mean that you’re a liberal and it doesn’t mean you support the entirety of her agenda, but it could mean that you stood up to a man that is likely doing lasting, and significant, damage not only to American democracy, but also to the Republican Party.