Forget the Democratic Convention, I've already made up my mind. I'm a lifelong Republican and I don't like or trust Hillary Clinton. But I am voting for her.
Does that make me a traitor? No, actually a patriot. After watching the Republican National Convention, I'm more committed than ever to the fundamental principle that loyalty to country trumps (sorry) loyalty to party. Listening to the panoply of speakers, (some more F Troop than A-List), it's clear that Donald Trump and his supporters have lost all respect for the political process. The personal demonization of your opponent that Newt Gingrich started during the Bill Clinton presidency, which then became even more vitriolic during President Obama's terms, has only grown more venomous during this election. In addition to being a narcissistic, racist, fear-mongering sociopath, Trump offers no real solutions to our nation's problems and his irrational, divisive rhetoric is a far greater threat to the party's future than Secretary Clinton.
Yes, these are the two most unpopular presidential candidates ever and people are so disenfranchised with the system, countless votes will be cast against a candidate rather than for one. But the ramifications of a potential Donald Trump presidency are so devastating that I have no choice but to vote for Clinton. I understand why dysfunctional party politics has led to Trump's ascension, but as a pragmatist, when forced to decide between eminently unlikeable and, at best, indisputably unqualified, I'll opt for the former. So mark me down as a reluctant member of Republicans for Hillary.
Having said that, like many other people, I believe the Clintons honestly feel that there is a separate set of rules that apply to them, mainly because they have been getting away with mistakes, mistruths and misbehavior for so long. Yet somehow, they've always been able to extricate themselves from these scandals and crises. Ironically, the GOP has helped both Bill and Hillary survive with a "let's get them at any cost" mentally that many see as over-zealous witch hunts. At the same time, if you look at all the problems that the Clintons have had, the majority of them are self-inflicted.
If you're a proud Republican who really wants what's best for America, it's time to throw off the shackles of party politics.
This may sound contradictory, but despite that fact I don't like or trust Hillary, she actually could be a good president. She's smart, she has experience, she does her homework and after getting lambasted for almost 25 years, she's proven to be tough. These are all traits you want in a leader. And I also believe, particularly after the GOP schoolyard debates, we're ready for a woman president. The British now have their second female Prime Minister and the Germans have Angela Merkel. While Clinton wouldn't be my first choice, frankly, she's the best Democrat we're going to get.
Hillary's foremost job will be to get some bipartisan legislation passed in the first one hundred days so she can say, "People don't have to like me, but I got this done." That is what will make her an effective president. Even though she will still have GOP extremists attacking and obstructing her (not to mention an ongoing firestorm on the alienated far-left), once she has a certain level of accomplishment, people can only criticize her character, not her record. Clinton needs to pick a few issues where the public has clearly indicated that they support change.
This year, gun control presents an opportunity where there could be some traction. If Hillary came out and said, "Look, I'm going to be reasonable. All I want to do is close the gun show loophole," it would difficult for Republicans to continue bowing to the NRA. And a good start would be to appoint a panel of three Republican and three Democratic Senators to formulate a bill that will at least provide a baseline that both parties can work from. Tax Reform, as well as other issues, offers similar opportunities.
Instead of chanting "lock her up," what we need is someone to help us break out of the prison of bitter partisanship that has gridlocked our government for the past eight years. Is that likely to happen under Hillary Clinton? There are no guarantees, but I am absolutely certain her odds are astronomically better than her opponent's.
This country simply cannot afford the disaster of a Trump presidency. Electing Trump will not be an escape from an incapacitated government; it would be like hiring a harsh warden who will incite inmate riots in Congress and lead us into solitary confinement around the world. With all her baggage and character flaws, Hillary is certainly no Get Out of Jail Free card, but Donald Trump will be a death sentence for democracy.
If you're a proud Republican who really wants what's best for America, it's time to throw off the shackles of party politics. The hard truth is Hillary Clinton is the only realpolitik option in an election where no one likes their choices.
Dave Spencer is the Founder of Practically Republican and a Member of the Executive Committee of the California Republican Party