You don’t have to be a Democrat to vote for Hillary Clinton

Nicholas Rostow served as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He also served as a Legal Adviser to the National Security Council under Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft from 1987 to 1993; as Counsel and Deputy Staff Director of the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns (Cox Committee) with the People’s Republic of China from 1998 to 1999; as Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1999 to 2000; and as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2001 to 2005.

From 1985 to 1989, I had the privilege of working in the Reagan Administration and observing President Reagan.

The first thing I noticed about President Reagan was that he was comfortable in his own skin. As a result, he made the people around him feel comfortable and at ease. Even when he was disappointed, as he was by the results of the Reykjavík Summit with Mikhail Gorbachev, or angry, as he was with General Noriega, he never ceased to be a gentleman and he never lost the twinkle in his eye. His personal qualities were refreshing and admirable, which so charmed the country. And I’ll never forget learning that he said to his wife, after he was shot, “Honey, I forgot to duck.”

President Reagan used humor, not unlike President Lincoln, to make his points and to spur others to action. When he theatrically dumped a mountain of paper — a continuing resolution — on a desk in the House of Representatives and announced, not unlike a disappointed school teacher, that he would no longer accept Congress’ excuse that the dog ate its homework, everyone laughed. But they got the point and they got to work. Because he exuded civility, he also kept political discourse out of the gutter.

Most importantly, President Reagan was an effective leader and communicator, and you always knew where he stood on the issues. Take terrorism, for example. His mantra was simple: “They can run but they can’t hide, and we don’t negotiate with them.” Everyone in his administration knew the lines without having to be told. When he denied Yasser Arafat a visa to enter the United States, Reagan silenced all those who were critical with this simple explanation for his action: “We’re not patsies.”

In observing the presidential election this year, I am immediately struck by the stark differences between the candidate my party has put forth and the president I served with honor back in the 1980s.

Unlike Reagan, whose sunny disposition and winning personality charmed a nation, Trump is an angry man with a nasty tongue. Trump is irascible where Reagan was warm and humorous. Trump is vain where Reagan was humble. Trump’s diatribes are heavy on bombast where Reagan’s speeches were clear and effective. Trump’s willful ignorance about the issues and lack of coherence on policy proposals leaves one in the dark about what he really thinks and what he’ll do as president. In short, Trump may be a television star, but he does not twinkle.

Just as you don’t have to be Jewish to like rye bread, you don’t have to be a Democrat to vote for Hillary Clinton. In my view, she clearly is best positioned by experience and temperament to be a responsible leader of the whole country and thus a better president for all the people of the United States than Donald Trump.