Choosing POTUS

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

For the first time in my life, I am sitting here in the middle of October of a presidential election year and I do not know for whom I will vote for President of the United States. Yet, choices must be made and the consequences will be felt.

I am a firm believer that one of the responsibilities of citizenship is to inform oneself and vote even when the choices on the ballot are poor. Our electoral system does not allow for do-overs or “none of the above.” Someone will actually win the election and assume power. The voters will decide who that will be and it is my responsibility to express my choice through the ballot box.

Often, perhaps far too often, this choice comes down to choosing the better of two evils. That is the determination many are trying to make this year between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But as I consider these two choices, I cannot discern a lesser of the two. They are just two evils.

Clinton is one of the most corrupt people in American politics. Her decades in public life have shown her to be a liar whose overriding motivations are rooted in her own advancement. Repeated disclosures have catalogued how she has violated federal law, used the Clinton Foundation as a vehicle to trade money for favors when she was secretary of state, exposed our national secrets to hostile foreign governments, and attacked the women whom her husband allegedly sexually assaulted. She is a vile person who will abuse the office of president for her personal gain and to advance policies detrimental to the United States.

Donald Trump, who was a liberal New York Democrat until he decided he wanted to run for president, has also spent decades in public life swaddling himself with dishonor. He is also a proven liar who has no scruples about trampling the people and institutions around him for his personal advancement. His willful and unapologetic ignorance of the basic tenets of the Constitution, the separation of powers, international affairs, and the basic duties and limits of the executive leave little doubt that President Trump would cast off any remaining moorings of the American presidency.

Many of my fellow conservatives have weighed and measured the two candidates differently and concluded that Trump is a tolerable choice. Some of them argue that the eventual appointments to the Supreme Court and Trump’s mouthing of support for some conservative principles tip the scale. While I understand and respect those arguments and the people making them, it is not a path I can walk with them this time. In Wisconsin, at least, it is a discussion that is more philosophical than tangible. Wisconsin will vote for Clinton irrespective of how the conservative minority splits their votes.

The history of governments amongst people is replete with examples of bad, corrupt, evil leaders in both representative and other forms of government. We will survive and build for ourselves a better future after this setback. It is critical that we build a bulwark against the excesses of a tyrannical presidency by electing strong Conservatives to the House and Senate like Sen. Ron Johnson, Speaker Paul Ryan and representatives Glenn Grothman, Sean Duffy, Mike Gallagher and Jim Sensenbrenner. While that is true in any election, it is paramount in this one.

By the time Election Day is upon us, I will exercise my franchise for the least offensive choice for president and it will likely be for one of the third party candidates. Then I will pray for our nation to fight off the worst excesses of our next president as we look to build a brighter future.