Integrity, trustworthiness and moral courage are indispensable leadership qualities necessary to unify, inspire, and influence citizens during times of crisis when great sacrifices are required. For this reason, presidential candidates of the two major parties reflect a leadership crisis that permeates virtually all aspects of American society. Never in my lifetime, which spans the Great Depression, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice) and the Cold War, have the two major parties offered the American people such an abysmal presidential election choice.
Former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton’s public service record is tarnished by serial dishonesty, political corruption and inept, self-serving leadership that renders her totally unfit for any public office much less the presidency. Mrs. Clinton’s criminal and deplorable handling of America’s most sensitive secrets is particularly indefensible and inexcusable. If her appalling, illegal behavior had occurred as a member of the armed forces, she would be observing the election from a cell in the United States Penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Despite substantial evidence against Mrs. Clinton, the FBI and Department of Justice allowed Mrs. Clinton to evade the legal consequences of her transgressions as secretary of state. This politically influenced decision has severely undermined the American justice system as well as the credibility and trustworthiness of both the Justice Department and FBI. It is incredible that Mrs. Clinton has thus far circumvented accountability for her disgraceful behavior in one of America’s highest federal offices.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton has irreparably damaged her own personal integrity, credibility, and capacity for effective leadership. If elected president, she will be severely compromised because the majority of the American people believe Mrs. Clinton is dishonest and untrustworthy. The nation’s voters must seriously contemplate the terrifying possibility that Mrs. Clinton might occupy the White House and serve as commander-in-chief of our armed forces.
Entrepreneur Donald J. Trump’s knowledge deficiencies regarding national security, foreign policy, the military, and central domestic issues are significant shortcomings. Mr. Trump’s primary asset is his success as chief executive of major business enterprises, which indicates he has the judgment to hire competent people and use their know-how to make sound decisions.
Mr. Trump’s personal behavior and temperament are also matters of concern. What is known is that, at times, Mr. Trump can be boorish, crude, insulting, and obnoxious. He also has a tendency toward bluster, exaggeration, and discourteous interpersonal conduct. These characteristics are an issue when seeking the presidency.
Also, there have been allegations of inappropriate behavior with women. Some of the assertions are verifiable because they were confirmed by his recorded statements. Other assertions of impropriety have not been validated and the organized, timely reporting of decades-old incidents in support of Mrs. Clinton make them suspect. Moreover, there is no evidence that formal complaints or criminal charges were filed with proper authorities.
It is quite clear, however, that there is no moral equivalency between the behavior of Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump has never (1) put his nation’s national security at risk for personal gain then lied repeatedly to cover the malfeasance; or (2) compromised the trusted office of secretary of state through political corruption and a personal enrichment agenda.
Hillary Clinton has proudly declared her intention to continue and expand President Obama’s policies. Obama has an eight-year record of national security and domestic policy failures, and a nation that by most measures is worse now than when he entered office. His unacceptable presidential performance makes one wonder exactly what Mrs. Clinton wants to continue and expand. If she holds to this commitment, America’s descent will gain momentum as more dysfunctional progressive left and welfare-state policies are inflicted on American taxpayers.
With a Trump presidency, there is an element of chance, but the risk is reduced if his vice president, cabinet, and advisors are people of competence and character. Mr. Trump’s selection of Governor Mike Pence is encouraging. Mr. Pence is a decent, solid man of proven character, competence, and sound judgment. Trump’s business experience combined with Pence’s integrity and political savvy give some confidence that a strong, competent cabinet, staff, and advisors will be selected. The list of excellent Supreme Court nominees provided earlier by Mr. Trump further support that conclusion.
We have witnessed the calamitous effects of an eight-year Obama administration. The consequences of continuing this appalling legacy with a Hillary Clinton administration is too dreadful to contemplate. Voting for Trump at least gives the nation a chance. In voting for Clinton, deception and disaster are foregone conclusions.
Dr. Grant E. (Gene) Secrist is a senior research scientist and retired U. S. Air Force lieutenant colonel with fifty years professional experience in aerospace research and development.