I have worked for Republicans running for all levels of office. Moreover, I have supported many Republicans following primaries that I didn't particularly like — Republicans who were far more conservative than me, Republicans who opposed issues and causes I cared deeply about. But I always backed the Republican because the sum of their philosophical and political positions were more akin to my own, and were in my view, ultimately better for our community and country.
Donald Trump is different. He himself acknowledges he is no classic Republican and routinely dumps traditional Republican views on the economy and foreign policy, often wholesale adopting Democratic talking points or endorsing Bernie Sanders-style nationalism and socialism.
But, worse, his behavior is consistent with that of a man with serious mental and emotional irregularities. His visceral need to lash out against his critics. The numerous nasty, public feuds he's entered with members of the media and elected officials, usually over a person's daring to criticize him. His desperate need to be respected, evidenced by eerie pledges to the leader, and his violent outbursts when he's not.
Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I unhappily have to conclude that, troubling they both are in their own way, not only does Ms. Clinton edge out Mr. Trump on the sum of the issues I consider most pressing, more critically, Hillary Clinton isn't unbalanced.
With Ms. Clinton, I know what I'm getting. She's a member of the Democratic political elite, with all the flaws associated with those circles: She comes across as arrogant and entitled; she seems unable to connect with the everyday man and appears to think she knows best — better than the taxpayer, the business owner, the parent.
But for her flaws, frustrating though they are, Hillary Clinton doesn't cause me to worry that religious minorities could be jailed, critical press silenced, followers encouraged toward physical violence, and the power of the presidency expanded to dangerous levels to meet the ego of its occupant.
I disagree with Hillary on a whole host of issues. She, too, may likely continue to abuse executive authority to circumvent an uncooperative Congress. She may try to curb Second Amendment rights (not without opposition from the likes of me). She may have repulsive political and personal ties and a dubious relationship with the truth.
But, honest to goodness (and I can't believe I'm saying this), she's at least surpassed the emotionality of a child. She doesn't launch into personal tirades over minor slights, or worse yet, press criticism. She doesn't shift her foreign policy at the drop of a dime, and form policy based on whatever stream of consciousness she's in at any given moment. She doesn't share tabloid stories as fact. She doesn't scapegoat religious minorities for the nation's woes. She doesn't praise foreign dictators for strong leadership. She isn't, in short, emotionally and politically unbalanced.
It's also worth pointing out that for a Democrat, Hillary isn't all wrong on the issues. She believes in a balanced approach to disincentivizing short-term thinking on Wall Street. She's proposing keeping taxes flat for middle income families. Her foreign policy is neither as cavalier as George Bush's nor as passive as Barack Obama's.
Hillary, on many issues of import, occupies a middle space. She seems genuinely uncomfortable when Senator Sanders tries to pull her to the left. She may not be all that bad — certainly not as ruinous as the current president, whom she opposed on many fronts while in his administration.
In contrast, Donald Trump's views swing wildly from one extreme to the other, in one moment insisting the wars in the Middle East are not America's problem, in the next, proposing to kill the wives and children of our enemies. He promises steep tax breaks for wealthy business partners, but supports reactionary import tariffs, more likely to raise the cost of living for everyday Americans than to create new jobs. His radical proposals to apply religious tests to immigration, surveillance and policing, and his propensity to identify with authoritarian political figures and foreign dictators, bespeaks a man dangerous to America's constitutional system of restrained government.
In short, while Hillary may occupy the space of an intellectual, status quo liberal, representative of much of the system's rigidity, Mr. Trump swings so far into the realm of unpredictability, cult of personality leadership, and reactionary policymaking, his antidote is more likely to prove worse than the disease.