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My view: The conscience of a conservative

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump waits behind his podium as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton makes her way off the stage following the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/David Gol
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump waits behind his podium as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton makes her way off the stage following the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman, AP

What a dilemma! I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton on both philosophical and integrity grounds. I won’t vote for Donald Trump because it will send the wrong message on what America and the Republican Party should be. I think he reacts to circumstances rather than really thinking things through. His business ethics are unacceptable to me. His character is deeply flawed. His comments on negotiating our national debt sound as if he is stiffing suppliers and contractors by not paying or only paying deeply discounted rates. I believe a promise is a promise.

Trump has carefully protected himself in strategic bankruptcies. My business took a significant loss because of a company that isolated bad assets in a new corporation and then bankrupted it, protecting its core while transferring its loss to others. Trump uses the courts to defeat entities who can’t afford the legal costs of fighting him. Is that what we mean by rich and powerful?

As for policies, I don’t agree that our trade policies are all bad. We may need to enforce their provisions more vigorously, but not eliminate them. In fact, we need more trade agreements. Compared with the U.S., Mexico has on the order of double the number of agreements with other countries. If you want to sell to the world, you may move to Mexico to gain tariff relief. The U.S. should have more such agreements to reduce the incentive to relocate. His “punishing” the companies for sound business decisions sounds like the Dems’ “treat the symptoms, not the cause” approach. I want the U.S. to sell to a $6 billion market, not just a $300 million one. Besides, most of our trade deficit comes from countries with which we have no trade agreement, like China. He’s a protectionist.

Trump's military and foreign-relations strategy is a mystery. He talks strength and influence, then sounds like an isolationist. He says, “Mexico will pay for the wall,” but the current Latino migration is largely from Central and South America, while it is roughly net zero for Mexico. While I think a more restrictive Muslim immigration is in order, I don’t think a total stop is the answer.

He stifles people's free speech with lawsuits or threat of lawsuits. His stance on suing the press and his answer to the question of what he would do if his generals refused orders which they considered illegal was “they would follow my orders.” This questions his understanding or belief in our Constitution.

His confusing remarks on NATO had to be repeatedly refined and may indicate immediate cost, not ultimate security, is his goal. His unwillingness to face our huge and mounting unfunded entitlement debt is a major deficiency. His confusing remarks on nuclear proliferation and use of such weapons is frightening, especially in the face of his original ignorance of what the nuclear triad is.

Trump's policy on immigration and characterization of Hispanics is nativist and perhaps bigoted. It promises to lose the Hispanic vote for Republicans for decades. His manner with women threatens loss of that voting demographic.

As far as his fitness, he reacts and counterpunches in crude and often illogical ways. He speaks in confusing language that does not appear to reflect positions that are thought out well. His response to criticism isn’t a defense of his view, but personal attacks about low energy, Little Marco, Lying Ted, Ugly Carly, etc. His character on promise-keeping and his disregard for common decency and morality should not reflect America.

Trump often denies what he previously said. Is this lying or some form of psychological denial? He views negotiations as win-lose and seems unable to view win-win as a positive result.

His “I’m boss and only I can fix America” attitude suggests he would end up governing by a new set of executive orders after cancelling those of Obama.

I will vote no on both Clinton and Trump. I hope I can register what I think America and my party should stand for. I distrust populism and the rise of strongmen as we saw pre-World War II and continue to see in Latin America and elsewhere. Populism often proves the adage that for every complex problem there is a simple solution and that solution is usually wrong. I want a strong president, not a strongman.

Scot Wallace is a 60-year Republican and former precinct vice-chair as well as a county and state delegate.