Character is important to me, and I have my share of concerns about Donald Trump’s character. He can be obnoxious and insensitive. He’s often arrogant and impulsive. And even as someone who is not easily offended, I find him occasionally offensive.
Oh, and by the way, I’ll be voting for him on Nov. 8.
I also have concerns about Trump’s political principles. While I generally agree as a conservative with many of his policy statements, I’m not confident that he actually shares my core beliefs about limited government, individual liberty and the primacy of the Constitution.
But then I look at the reality of the race. Barring something truly unexpected happening, one of two people will be our next president. I’m certain Trump’s positions as president will be much closer to mine than Hillary Clinton’s on most important issues.
I could recite a litany of these differences (how each would shape the U.S. Supreme Court for the next generation is chief among them), but suffice it to say that even though Trump is somewhat of a policy wildcard, he’ll be closer to what I believe is best for America than Clinton. On the policy front, Trump is not a hard case to make or a hard vote to take.
The issue of character, however, makes my vote more difficult. While he’s cleaned up his act considerably in recent weeks (and he does have many impressive and redeeming qualities), it’s hard to deny his character flaws. He often engages in behavior that would embarrass and anger me if my sons did the same.
Once again, however, I’m faced with the reality of this odd election year. Either Trump or Clinton will be our next president. And if I want my vote to actually matter, I need to pick one. Voting for Trump becomes much easier when facing this reality, as Trump’s character might be troublesome, but Clinton’s is far worse.
Clinton is a corrupt, compulsive liar who believes she is above the law. That’s not partisan spin, that’s documented fact.
Whether it’s based on the big stuff, like lying about the reasons for the Benghazi attack, destroying evidence on her personal e-mail server and subsequently lying about it, or granting special access as secretary of state to Clinton Foundation contributors — or on the small stuff, like sniper fire in Bosnia or being “dead broke” after leaving the White House — even many of Clinton’s supporters recognize that she’s corrupt and dishonest.
I’ve heard it said that Trump says bad things; Clinton does bad things.
Some Clinton supporters, however, jump all over me as a Trump voter based on his character. It’s hypocrisy at its most obnoxious.
In fact, I can’t imagine a greater political hypocrisy than a Clinton supporter who looks down on a Trump supporter because of his character.
Some Clinton supporters dismiss her corruption and dishonesty by comparing her to Richard Nixon. They argue that Nixon was dishonest and corrupt, and he turned out to be a good president from a policy standpoint.
While the latter half of that assertion is debatable, the comparison itself is silly. America did not know that Nixon was dishonest and corrupt until after he was elected, and once that became clear, he was rightly forced out of office.
It’s frankly astounding, knowing what we know, that Clinton is the nominee of one of the major parties — even more astounding than Trump being the nominee of the other major party.
I don’t offer any criticism for those who cannot vote for either Trump or Clinton based on policy or character. Every American must do what he or she believes is right.
I will, however, be voting for Donald Trump on Election Day, not with a spring in my step or a song on my heart, but — given the choice — with the confidence that I’m doing the best thing I can for the future of my country.
Jeff Johnson is a Hennepin County commissioner who was Minnesota chairman of the Rubio for President campaign. He was the Republican candidate for governor in 2014.