This piece was originally printed in The Hill in the Contributor Blog on October 20, 2016
There is one thing I agree with Reince Priebus about this Presidential election. Priebus, the Republican National Committee Chairman, said this election presents a "binary choice."
He's right and the choice before us could not be more clear.
On the one side we have Donald Trump -- a nationalistic-strongman demagogue with non-democratic instincts. Trump pits American against American, denigrates women (and we thought it couldn't get any worse, but it has), African-Americans, the disabled, his opponents, those who disagree with him, blames Mexicans and Muslims for our problems and has called for restrictions on free speech and press.
Our First Amendment is what distinguishes America from all others. No country has as free a media and as strong a free speech right as America and Donald Trump wants to limit and reduce your right to free speech and press. And perhaps most troublesome of all, through his dog-whistle rhetoric, he has legitimized the white nationalist movement through his policy ideas and by not strongly denouncing them clearly and regularly.
And by the way, he has no coherent policy agenda to address the challenges facing America. But he does have a nice campaign slogan.
On the other side we have Hillary Clinton, who does not denigrate, does not spew hate speech, is accepting of all Americans for all our faults, is a strong and clear supporter of American democracy interests at home and abroad and has a clear and coherent policy agenda for addressing the challenges facing the U.S. and the world. And her campaign slogan is pretty good too.
Make no mistake, she has flaws. After more than 40 years in the media spotlight as the spouse of a governor, the First Lady of the country, a Senator and most recently Secretary of State we know her well including her strengths and weaknesses. But Hillary is no Donald Trump. She believes in the democratic traditions, laws and norms we have built over 220 years and will preserve them, not break them as Trump has told us he will.
The clearest and most irrefutable example of Trump's danger to our country was revealed at the last debate when he threatened to put Hillary Clinton in jail if he won the Presidency. Any analysis of his statements disqualifies him for office - any office. First, it is a clear violation of our democratic principles. Electoral winners in America do not punish political opponents. It may go on in Russia, China and South America, but not in the United States. But perhaps worst - it is an impeachable offense -- of which he does not even understand why. This is what Nixon would have been impeached for had he not resigned - directing independent federal offices to take actions regardless of due process, law and the constitutional right of a presumption of innocence. Trump has already decided she is guilty because he did not just say he would have the Department of Justice appoint a special prosecutor (this is a decision solely for the DoJ to make), but he said "you'd be in jail" if he was President.
Donald Trump is the most extreme candidate for President we have seen, certainly in any of our lifetimes, perhaps in our history.
Defying a century of action, Trump's policies would destroy our leadership in the world by isolating the U.S. by ripping up trade compacts, treating our allies and friends and our international security obligations like pay for play schemes, encouraging nuclear weapons proliferation and ordering U.S. soldiers to engage in torture and the killing of innocent women and children.
While demonstrating a lack of understanding and support for democratic values, he also praises and expresses admiration for the worst global tyrants. Most glaring is his fondness for Vladimir Putin, who has destroyed the burgeoning Russian democracy that emerged after the collapse of Communism. While no longer a communist nation, Russia today is as cruel as ever. Its international behavior is as brutal and its economy is as unfair as the days of Stalin. But not to be outdone, he has also praised the brutal leadership of Communist China, Saddam Hussein and has even praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. At one point he said of Syrian's leader Bashar al-Assad, "I think in terms of leadership, he's getting an A and our president is not doing so well."
What is it that draws Trump to these leaders? It is their dictatorial rule of their countries. They are the law. This is not the American way. As Nixon demonstrated, no President is above the law.
We are a nation of laws. Trump likes dictators.
If Trump is elected, our democracy will be at risk.
RNC Chairman Priebus is right - this election is a binary choice and the only choice is clear - it is Hillary Clinton, unless you favor risking our democracy.
William Pierce has worked in Republican politics directly and indirectly for 30 years. He has served in the George W Bush Administration, worked for Republican Representatives William Clinger (PA), Olympia Snowe (ME), William Thomas (CA) and Republican Senators John Heinz (PA) and Rudy Boschwitz (MN).