Never in modern history have United States voters had such a clear - if imperfect - choice for president.
Democrat Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with the experience, qualifications and respect necessary to be the next leader of the free world.
And while many voters have reservations about Clinton's ability to do the job, it is clear Republican Donald Trump's temperament and disposition makes him unfit to be president. This became clear on Friday with the release of his 2005 recorded conversation in which he talks about pushing himself on women, kissing and groping them and they don't mind because "you can do anything" when you have special status as a billionaire businessman and reality television star.
The revelation of Trump's lewd, crude attitude toward women and conceited sense of his stature drew swift and wide condemnation, including by Republican officials and candidates for Congress. His respect among political leaders home and abroad has been irretrievably damaged despite his apology and insistence that his words do not "reflect who I am." We believe they do.
Hillary Clinton gets our support because she has devoted her life to public service. She has been secretary of state for four years, U.S. senator for eight years, and first lady for eight years. Trump has no prior political or public service experience, having devoted his life to building his brand through real estate deals and his reality TV show, "The Apprentice."
President of the United States is not an entry-level position. It requires someone who has been battle-tested on the legislative and diplomatic fronts. Someone who understands and can navigate the complexities of governing, and make rational decisions on consequential domestic and foreign issues, including life and death decisions on war and standing up to bully dictators like Russia's Vladimir Putin. Clinton is that someone; Trump is not.
Trump has too many negatives - particularly his erratic temperament - to guide our country. He reacts impulsively to criticism, a dangerous trait for someone who can launch nuclear weapons. He is quick to anger and slow to calm down. He has acknowledged during the campaign he is not going to change if he becomes president. "Yeah, it is going to be like this," he told a press conference in the spring.
He calls into question treaties with our allies. He calls our foreign trade agreements stupid. In addition to disrespecting women, he has mocked the disabled, prisoners of war and candidates from both parties. He threatens to abandon U.S. defense treaties with NATO, Japan and South Korea, claiming our allies don't pay enough to support our overseas troops and he just might bring them home. He suggests dropping resistance to other nations possessing nuclear weapons on the ground if places like Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia have them, no one will use them for fear of blowing up the planet. Don't bet on it.
Our endorsement of Clinton does not come without reservations. Her truthfulness has been legitimately questioned, in appearances before congress and in her statements about the terrorist raid on the U.S. post in Benghazi. She's also been criticized by the director of the FBI for carelessly handling classified documents through use of a private server. And then there's the matter of meeting in her official capacity as secretary of state with foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation.
Nonetheless, her record of public service, political acumen and reaching across ideological and partisan lines to get things done made her the best qualified candidate for president. She effectively worked with Republicans to enact a much-needed child health care law during her tenure as a senator. She also fought for health care and financial compensation for victims, first responders and other heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attack. On the international front, she has negotiated peace agreements in world hot spots, earning credibility with our allies and respect from our enemies.
Trump supporters say they like him because he is an outsider, not part of the political establishment. That's not necessarily a positive when you consider the enormity of being president. There is no time to learn on the job. Major decisions and alliances have to be formed from day one. Working against Trump is his distaste for details and his narcissistic personality. He proclaims he knows more than anybody, including the military generals he would rely on as president. His answers to problems are too frequently lost to denigrating sound bites.
We ask that you arm yourself with as much information as you can before you vote on Nov. 8. We ask that you research every issue and vote your conscience.
At the end of the day, we feel Trump's campaign has too many moments that just don't ring true. He's too off-the-cuff, too irrational, too prone to hyperbole. He comes across as inarticulate and uninformed. Yet he frequently asks voters to believe him, to trust him.
We choose not to.
This editorial was originally printed in the Muskogee Phoenix, a sister newspaper to the Tahlequah Daily Press.