As a U.S. Ambassador four years ago, I did not make any partisan statements or announce who I supported in the 2012 presidential race. I refrained out of respect for my country and its traditions. Today, out of respect for my country and its traditions, I am declaring my vote. I'm voting for Hillary Clinton. I write this in the hope that friends and colleagues -- particularly those who share my feelings about America -- will either vote with me, or at least not vote for Donald Trump.
First, I want to be clear about what is not affecting my vote. It is not simply because I'm a Democrat. I've worked with -- and been appointed by -- as many Republicans as Democrats. I don't think either party has a monopoly on good people or good ideas. I'm also not angling for a position with President Clinton. I've already had two of the best jobs in the federal government. I haven't been promised anything and I don't have designs on anything. Finally, I'm not motivated by gender. I'd be very proud to see our nation elect a woman president, but I would not support a candidate based solely on gender or race or any other factor. Finally, I'm not even electing President Clinton based on a particular set of policy choices. Policy matters, but in any presidency, circumstances and events change and reshape the agenda. So choosing a president because they agree with you on a handful of current issues is not enough for me either.
I'm voting for Hillary Clinton for reasons that, to me, are much more important than party, or position, or identity, or even policy. They go to the essence of what it means to be an American. For all of our differences, Americans share three things -- our Constitution, our territory, and our ideals. And they are the three measures by which I choose Hillary Clinton.
The Constitution is a pact that we've made with each other. Every citizen takes an oath under the Constitution, that -- no matter how tempting it might be -- we would never permit our government to do certain things. We'd never allow the Government to punish the media for criticizing the President. We'd never resort to random searches and seizures, cruel and unusual punishments, intimidating judges, or denying natural-born Americans their citizenship. We particularly would not be a nation where leaders lock people up without due process and a fair trial. These are our commitments to ourselves and each other. The fact that Hillary Clinton respects and defends these principles of our Constitution is not surprising. It is what we should expect from every candidate for President of the United States. But Donald Trump has challenged every one of those Constitutional prohibitions. http://www.huffingtonpost.
What makes the U.S. secure is not our numbers. Our armed services account for only one-half of one percent of the U.S. population, and yet, we are the most powerful and effective defense force on the planet. It is not the number of guns, and bullets, and brick walls that keep us secure. What makes us safe is the smart use of our power, the trust we have developed with our partners and allies, and the robust economy we've established around the globe. At home, we've developed an extraordinary system for training and promoting the best military thinkers and leaders in the world. To command this group, you need to at the very least understand and appreciate their training and expertise. Over three decades, Secretary Clinton has learned what our military is -- and is not -- capable of doing, sometimes through hard experience. By contrast, Donald Trump has ridiculed our generals as a "disgrace" and announced that he knows a lot more about ISIS than they do. He also said "no one knows" who is hacking U.S. systems to influence the Presidential election -- despite the heads of 17 different intelligence agencies independently confirming for him that it was Russia. No one can lead an effort that they don't listen to or understand.
Our strength also comes from alliances we've formed around the world. Allies multiply our forces, offer new insights and intelligence, give us bases for operations far beyond our borders, and keep our adversaries at bay. Secretary Clinton has worked effectively with all of our allies. By contrast, Donald Trump has proposed abandoning these alliances unless those nations paid more -- regardless of the value of the alliance. Fracturing these alliances in this way, would be Vladimir Putin's dream, and would make us all less safe.
Finally, our national security depends on our economy. We have the best developed defense force in the world partly because we have the greatest economy in the world. That economy funds our defense, and extends our reach around the world, giving us leverage everywhere we trade. Secretary Clinton's plans call for careful stewardship of the economy and fair trade agreements where they are in the U.S.'s interests. By contrast, Donald Trump's plans would cost our economy $1 Trillion, create trade barriers, and diminish our weight in the world.
In short, Donald Trump puts our fighting force, our alliances, and our economy in jeopardy, and makes us less safe. Again, for my friends who care about national security, the choice is clear. Regardless of whatever other feelings you may have about Hillary Clinton, she is qualified to be Commander-in-Chief, and Donald Trump is not.
Finally, some ideals are fundamentally American. They concern what we imagine as our more perfect union. Our founders believed in sacrificing for a greater good. At various times in my life, I have walked away from opportunities that would have made me wealthier, sacrificed time with those I've loved, and gone to dangerous places -- areas riddled with gang violence or war zones like Afghanistan -- out of a sense of duty to my Country. The character of our nation was built by many people before me who did this -- who sacrificed everything, including their lives and their fortunes -- for our liberty. It is a debt that I owe them, and that I and millions of others gladly pay to the next generation. Whatever complaints my conservative friends may have about Hillary Clinton, her life has been devoted to the service of others -- whether it was assisting children and families as a lawyer, promoting healthcare and family services as a First Lady, fighting terrorism and rebuilding New York as a Senator, or helping negotiate a cease-fire in Gaza as Secretary of State. She has taken every type of criticism and abuse that a human being could endure, and she kept fighting -- not for herself, but for others.
This is perhaps the sharpest contrast to Donald Trump. Rather than aspiring to our best ideals -- humility, sacrifice, and devotion to others -- he reflects our basest instincts. Rather than sacrifice, he free-rides. Rather than create opportunities, he hoards wealth and fails to pay debts. Rather than study and learn, he bluffs. Sacrifice is hard, and it takes leaders who model that behavior and have the moral authority to inspire it in others. America won't be made greater by a man who avoided all of his taxes, so that the rest of us could pay for the police and firemen that protect his buildings, and the roads that carry his limousines, and the airports that receive his private jets. America will not be made greater by a man who treats half of my fellow citizens -- women and girls -- as if they are simply there to attract and entertain him, rather than as full-fledged American citizens entitled to our respect and equal dignity. America cannot be made greater by a man who uses the bully pulpit to mock a disabled man, to condemn the grieving mother of a fallen soldier, and to call people names and humiliate them and us with his behavior. We are better than that as a people. We aspire to more than that as a people. Of all the telling moments in this campaign, the one that stands out for me is this. After Khizr Khan called out Donald Trump for failing to sacrifice, Trump was asked if he had ever sacrificed anything for anyone in his life. He said that he had built a business that employed others. But employing people who make you wealthier is not a sacrifice. An investment, or a bargain, or a transaction is not a sacrifice. Sacrifice is giving up something yourself to benefit another. It just proved, that he doesn't even know the meaning of the word.
To serve us all, we need at the very minimum a president who will be faithful to our Constitution, keep our nation secure, and represent the best ideals of our people. I was able to witness Hillary Clinton first hand when she was Secretary of State, advocate for civil and human rights around the world, work with our armed services to secure peace, and receive the respect and admiration of world leaders in every land. In meetings of foreign leaders, there was never any question she was the most informed, experienced, and commanding figure in that room. I would be proud to have her as our president. So I'm with her. I only ask my Republican and Independent friends who share these values to look into their hearts and sacrifice something -- whether it be party, position, identity, or policy -- and join with me.