Endorsement: Why conservatives have no option but to support Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton AP

WE UNDERSTAND WHY so many South Carolinians are angry about a gridlocked federal government that is unable or unwilling to address the serious problems confronting our country.

An economy that by some measures is recovering seems to leave behind the middle class. Young adults graduate from college with large debts, restricting the fruits of their studies. Nearly everyone agrees our immigration system doesn’t work.

To some, the country seems powerless to deal with terrorist threats at home and abroad. They question America’s standing in the world.

We get the temptation to seek radical change.


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The Republican nominee for president could have been an intriguing option. Donald Trump’s resume describes a successful businessman with no ties to the political “establishment.” He claims his business success proves he can negotiate, get things done, and better position America in the world.

As with everyone who seeks public office, Mr. Trump’s background is subject to investigation and debate. Has he been as successful as he claims? If so, how did he build that success?

We’d prefer to spend most of this editorial analyzing such questions. But his story also includes a series of campaign promises that, if kept, would fundamentally change who we are as a nation.

Most voters are aware of what he has said he would do: build a wall along our southern border to keep out illegal immigrants; waterboard suspected terrorists; kill innocent family members of terrorists; stifle the news media. While he has changed some of those positions — especially the killing of terrorists’ relatives — it’s troubling he ever considered them.

Also disturbing are his statements about women, his mocking of a man with a disability and his inability to focus on the big picture if it means ignoring a personal slight.

Whatever intrigue his business resume generates is overshadowed by his character and personality. He is simply unfit for the presidency, or any public office.

That means we must rely on Hillary Clinton for any meaningful change in Washington politics.

Her resume suggests Mrs. Clinton is as prepared as any of this year’s candidates to be an effective president. She played a major role in formulating policy during her husband’s administration, especially in the areas of health care and children. As a U.S. senator from New York, she served on the Armed Services Committee, earning praise from Republican John McCain. She also became secretary of state.

But she has significant flaws as well.

We are baffled by her decision as secretary of state to use a private server for emails. How can anyone with her experience, education and intelligence not consider the security risks of conducting affairs of state on a private server? When most Americans worry about online identity theft, why was she sending classified documents through a system that could have been vulnerable to hacking?

That decision continues to haunt her campaign, with the FBI on Friday announcing it was investigating emails discovered in a separate probe “that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”

As president, she would have to be more careful about handling classified materials. After all the justified criticism she has endured, we’re confident she would.

We’re also troubled by the potential conflicts of interest involving donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state. Why not take every step to remove all doubts?

Still, compared with Mr. Trump’s alarming flaws, Mrs. Clinton is the obvious choice. She is far more informed about the problems confronting the country and has detailed plans for addressing them. She embraces the fundamental values that have guided America for centuries, and her temperament is better suited to answer the proverbial 3 a.m. call.

This is the first time our editorial board has endorsed a Democratic presidential nominee since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Through the years, we evaluated nominees based on our support for reducing the national debt, strengthening national security and other conservative values. Those values compel us to endorse Mrs. Clinton this year.

An independent analysis released in September determined that Mr. Trump would add significantly more to the national debt than Mrs. Clinton: $5.3 trillion compared to $200 billion.

On national security, we’ll take Mrs. Clinton’s experience on the Armed Services Committee and as secretary of state over Mr. Trump’s hollow claims to know more about ISIS than America’s generals. We also doubt his ability to think rationally in a crisis.

If elected, Mrs. Clinton must hear the voters’ call for change. She and Congress — whether it’s controlled by Democrats or Republicans — must commit to compromise. While both sides bear responsibility for this, presidents are uniquely positioned to lead the effort.

In this era of voter discontent, Americans want change. But we must consider carefully what will change and who will lead it. Of the two candidates, the choice is clear. Mrs. Clinton’s experience, stability and knowledge make her more likely than Mr. Trump to effectively tackle the nation’s problems.