I am a Republican, I am a Christian, and I am a Latino – and I feel that voting for Clinton or Trump means selling my soul. Literally.
Trump is insulting to women, Latinos, the handicapped, immigrants and non-Christians. He speaks of bombing all who he sees as his enemies.
Clinton, on the other hand, has been linked repeatedly to corrupt, dangerous and non-ethical practices (don’t forget Whitewater, the Benghazi attack, the use of a personal email account for national security communications and, of course, the Clinton Foundation).
For awhile now I have been asking myself: Is there anyone else besides Clinton and Trump for whom we can cast our votes and our hope? Is there no option “C”?
Today, I have made the difficult decision to support a candidate other than the one selected by my Republican Party. I say difficult because I have always sided with Republicans.
I am beginning to understand that at least during this presidential election, being a Republican doesn’t mean what it used to mean. I believe, like many of the leaders of the GOP (the Bushes, George Will, Mitt Romney, Lionel Sosa, Rosario Marin, senators, congressmen … too many to mention!) that Trump has very little in common with us and our Republican principles.
I will continue being a Republican of the Grand Old Party of Lincoln and Reagan – promoting civil rights and a responsible republican government. I will continue supporting fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and less government, free markets and free trade (until recently, major tenets of the Republican Party platform).
I will continue being a Republican who supports religious freedom, but not religious discrimination, and I will side with those who promote smart immigration reform, welcoming the “tired,” “poor” and “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” as stated on the Statue of Liberty.
I needn’t mention that this year’s Republican National Convention, with Trump as its standard-bearer, supported a dramatically different platform.
Thus, I cannot keep my dignity and my honor (and true loyalty to the GOP) and support the Republican presidential nominee.
Now, I could spend the next months being only anti-Trump and anti-Clinton. But I’ve decided to spend my energy doing something positive.
After a lot of reading, praying and debating family and colleagues, I’ve decided to support the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.
Why him? First let me summarize: Johnson’s positions include what many consider the best of both parties.
On the one hand, Johnson is conservative on economic and fiscal issues: Small government, less taxes, less regulations, more trade, more jobs and better jobs. It may sound romantic, but Johnson believes in the American people and their capacity to turn around our economic problems.
He believes the American people will step up, as they always have, if we can just get the government out of their way and out of their pockets. He plans to grow the economy and create jobs, starting with allowing Americans to compete. He is not afraid of free trade, nationally nor internationally. “We are good at trade,” he told me in conversation. And I agree.
Johnson supports a strong military and greater U.S. security but wants more restrictions on the president so he (or she) cannot go to war without the consent of the people. Should we really have been engaged in some kind of war now for 30 years? Did the American people want this? I am sure Johnson asks himself the same question.
Johnson says he plans to make the U.S. more secure by intervening less overseas and investing more in a powerful defensive military. He wants a sound military policy that doesn’t involve spending taxpayer dollars on military equipment that the Pentagon itself doesn’t want, to fight wars that we haven’t declared, where young Americans die without so much as asking the American people.
In the social arena, however, Johnson is more liberal.
He emphasizes that on many controversial issues — including marijuana legalization and gay marriage — the people in each state should be given the power to decide how they feel. Though he passed some of the most stringent anti-abortion legislation in the country while governor of New Mexico, he is honest enough to know that presidents don’t change laws (including on abortion), Congress does. And the people of America change laws by voting for their representatives in Congress.
Johnson believes strongly in civil rights. He wants the government to get out of our bedrooms and out of our churches in an age where the National Security Agency seemingly can turn on our laptops and cellphone cameras at will.
For Democrats, who have traditionally pushed for social tolerance, Johnson offers an attitude that the government should get out of people’s lives.
As a Latino, I am deeply encouraged that Johnson supports comprehensive immigration reform.
He proposes an immigration overhaul that includes: vetting immigrants and refugees and excluding anyone with criminal backgrounds; ensuring everyone pays taxes and Social Security; and putting newcomers at the end of the citizenship list.
I call that smart and compassionate immigration reform, much like what has been promised by President Obama and Clinton herself, but never delivered.
The Libertarians are running a remarkable ticket: between Johnson and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R), the ticket has 16 years of executive experience — which is exactly sixteen more years than Clinton and Trump combined.
Johnson and Weld have a solid record of fiscal responsibility in deep blue states. They both cut taxes and left fiscally sound state budgets behind.
That leads me to my next point, which is perhaps as important as all the policy discussions — the positive nature of the Johnson-Weld campaign.
Johnson and Weld have managed to be optimistic in a year when going negative is easy. They trust the American people — they think that people, left to their ingenuity and spirit, can solve most of our problems. I agree.
I have come to the conclusion that indeed there is an option “C,” a good choice in this year when the major parties have nominated two of the most disliked candidates in American history.
I believe Johnson is the best option. And not just for disenfranchised Republicans in the era of Trump. Johnson is option “C” for other groups who feel marginalized by this particular presidential election: the Bernie Sanders supporters, Christians and intellectual conservatives.
Johnson is not only an option “C,” he is our only option.
Juan Hernandez was the Hispanic outreach director for the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign. He is a contributor to CNN Espanol.