As a Republican, I care about electing great Republicans up and down the ticket — those who will build bridges to the business community and spur economic growth.
As an American who cares deeply about our country’s future, I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton to become our next president.
My Republican credentials are strong: I served in the White House of President George W. Bush as associate counsel from 2005-07. It’s my commitment to conservative values that leads me to support Clinton over Donald Trump, who represents an unthinkable step in the wrong direction — both for our country and for the Republican Party.
For Republican voters who care about the economy, Clinton is clearly our best choice: She has the experience and skills necessary to ensure a stable economic environment, while Trump could precipitate an unprecedented economic disaster if he’s elected. No candidate will give us everything we want, but Hillary can keep us on a steady path.
Here’s how I see it:
Clinton supports trade but insists on tough negotiations that protect American workers and the environment. Trump has promoted an all-out trade war with major U.S. trading partners, including China and Mexico — who are sure to retaliate. Our trading partners retaliated once before when we tried Trump’s approach in the 1930s, leading to the Great Depression.
Clinton is more generous with domestic spending than I’d like, but her fiscal platform does not depart radically from that of her husband, who achieved a balanced federal budget as president. Trump says he will build a massively expensive wall on our southern border without any plan to pay for it other than a bellicose insistence that Mexico will foot the bill (it won’t). He then spooks credit markets by talking about “renegotiating” the federal debt, creating the impression that the United States can’t pay its bills and virtually assuring a big increase in the cost of federal borrowing if he is elected.
Clinton, like Presidents Bush and Obama, wants immigration reform to protect American workers from uncontrolled immigration, while allowing undocumented immigrants already here — working for American businesses — to stay, become citizens and pay taxes like the rest of us. Trump promises to deport millions (although he has no idea how to do this) regardless of the severe harm this would cause our economy.
Clinton’s campaign rhetoric echoes that of her husband and Barack Obama, two Democratic presidents who oversaw significant economic growth. It is not always the pro-business and pro-economic liberty message that Republicans want to hear, but investors and business owners know what we’ll get from Hillary and we can plan for the future. Trump, by contrast, is volatile and unpredictable — a businessperson’s and investor’s worst nightmare.
Clinton champions individual rights with an emphasis on the rights of women and minorities. Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering our country while heightening domestic surveillance of Muslims with no regard for the terrible economic and geopolitical impact of taking punitive measures against adherents to one of the world’s five major religions. (The last large industrialized country that used discriminatory religious profiling in its laws was Germany in the 1930s).
Clinton’s government experience includes eight years in the White House as first lady, eight years as a U.S. senator, and four years as secretary of state. Trump’s experience with the federal government is limited to periodic tours of federal bankruptcy court, with his creditors following close behind.
Republicans think like businesspeople. The stock market is moving toward an all-time high, but only because investors seem to think Clinton will win the election. If we bet on Donald Trump, we become crass and stupid speculators — shorting the stock market and everything else in the American economy, and then waiting for the coming crash. Except no one will profit. Trump has lost billions of dollars loaned by bondholders, banks and other creditors of his businesses who never got paid. Why would any smart investor assume that kind of risk for the entire country?
A smarter and more patriotic alternative is to play the long game: hold onto your IRA, keep your business running, support Clinton. She’s a strong choice, and her four years in the White House will buy Republicans the time we need to rebuild our party and put forward a predictable and practical progrowth candidate in the future.
For Republicans like me, it’s time to support a candidate who won’t destroy our economy (she may improve it). Let’s make Hillary Clinton our next president for the sake of the Republican Party and — more importantly — for the future of our great country.
Richard W. Painter is S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and former associate counsel to the president and chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush. The opinions expressed here are solely his own.