I Voted for Gary Johnson in 2012, But I'm Supporting Hillary Clinton This Year

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton smiles during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York o
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton smiles during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

I voted for Gary Johnson for president in 2012, but I'm supporting Hillary Clinton this year. I spent most of my life as a Republican activist before leaving the party in 2014, and supporting a Democrat for president for the first time wasn't an easy decision. I know others are struggling with that decision, but it's the obvious choice this year.

Our vote is the most powerful political act we can do, and that power shouldn't be compromised by voting for someone who, in your gut, you can't support. That's why I voted for Gary Johnson in 2012. After spending most of that year advocating for Mitt Romney, I just couldn't bring myself to vote for him because, based on my personal experience with his campaign, I concluded that he wasn't a good person and wouldn't make a good president. So, I ended up voting for Johnson because I know him, and know that he is a good man.

Many Republicans and independents may be considering voting for Johnson this year because they can't bring themselves to support Republican nominee Donald Trump. They know that electing Trump would be dangerous for our country and the world. He is not qualified or temperamentally fit to be president. Trump is not an acceptable choice for them, but they also know that voting for Johnson this year is compromising the power of their vote. With no possible path to victory, Johnson's candidacy only serves to be a spoiler in what is a very competitive two-way race, potentially helping to elect Trump.

Those voters may feel like they don't have anyone they can vote for, but they do. One choice for president is head and shoulders above the other candidates, regardless of party. The best choice happens to be a Democrat, and that's not an easy fact to accept for those who have never voted for a Democrat before. Then there's another barrier to overcome. That Democrat is Hillary Clinton.

Believe me, never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever be supporting Hillary Clinton, of all people! She's been a political enemy for my entire adult life. I spent years in the party that vilifies and attacks her. I now know that I was wrong about her, but that realization didn't happen over night.

I first started to see Hillary Clinton in a different light back when she was serving as a senator from New York. My friends who worked in Republican offices on Capitol Hill often cited her as a Democrat who Republicans could work with. She earned that reputation because she knows that it takes bipartisan cooperation in order to get things done in Washington.

My view of her continued to evolve last year when I saw her considerable depth of knowledge on display in the primary debates, and during the televised Benghazi hearing. She showed a command of the issues and preparedness to be president superior to any of the other candidates. She demonstrated that she's the only candidate, of any party, prepared to handle all of the issues that will face the next president, most of which we don't even know about yet.

The final part of my Clinton evolution was more personal. It was when I realized that she's a good person with honorable intentions. I did that by trying to put myself in her shoes. It wasn't very hard to do because, like Clinton but on a much smaller scale, I've been attacked by political enemies during most of my career. As an openly gay former Republican activist, I've been attacked by the anti-gay segment of the right who aren't tolerant of gays, and by some LGBT people on the left who have called me a traitor to the cause.

Political attacks are part of the business and I let most of them roll off my back, but the ones that actually hurt my feelings are the ones that question my motives or intentions. Those attacks often times allege that I do certain things or take a particular position in order to gain money or attention, or that I have a secret hidden agenda. The truth is, in everything I do, I just want to help people and make our country better.

That's what motivates Hillary Clinton, too. By reflecting on my experience, I came to see that most of the attacks Hillary Clinton over the years have created a false narrative about her motives. That's when I concluded that I could trust her. While there will be times when I disagree with her on specific policies, or question her strategies or tactics, I trust her because I know that she'll do what she believes will help people and make our country better.

Now we are faced with a choice between the only two candidates who have viable paths to victory in November. One is not qualified and temperamentally unfit, and the other is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and prepared to do the job of president. The choice is clear -- Hillary Clinton.