Donald Trump has all of Hillary Clinton's defects - but on a magnified scale, and with none of her competence.
Age: If elected, Trump (at age 70) would be the oldest person inaugurated as president; Clinton (at age 69) would be the second oldest. But, given men live shorter lives, Trump would be about 50% more likely to die in office than Clinton. And, Clinton has been more transparent about her health than Trump - which raises the question of whether there are serious medical conditions Trump may be trying to hide.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Neither of these families has a clue what life is like for ordinary Americans, though Trump's lifestyle is significantly more over-the-top. The Clintons merely own two multi-million dollar homes - Trump has at least six multi-million dollar homes.
Nepotism is Good; Equality of Opportunity is for Other People: It's striking that candidate Clinton speaks of a lack of equality of opportunity, while Trump talks of a rigged economic system. Nothing demonstrates one's fight against a rigged system, or fight for equality of opportunity, more clearly than parachuting your children in ahead of other well-qualified people. Trump's three oldest children are already Executive Vice Presidents of Dad's company. The Clintons renamed their foundation as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation when Chelsea was just 33, as well as adding her to its board of directors.
Bill Clinton and Donald Trump Have Both been Accused of Sexual Harassment: In my opinion, the accusations against Trump are far worse. They are more recent, more flagrant, better-documented and involve more women. Also, more to the point, Bill Clinton is not running for President. So, if you're a Republican who legitimately objected to Bill Clinton's character flaws, how on earth can you overlook Trump's even more egregious behavior? And whatever you may think of Hillary Clinton's politics, she put major effort into keeping her marriage together - which says much about her character.
Appearance of Conflicts of Interest: The Clintons and Trumps both raise money from the rich and powerful, but at least with the Clintons we have transparency. We know where the Clintons' money came from (e.g., Saudi Arabia and Goldman Sachs, among others) and how that money was spent (most went to politics or charity). With Trump, all we really know is significant money is involved (as loans to Trump, or investments in his projects), but we don't have a clear accounting of who provided the money, on what terms, or what exactly it was used for. Particularly troubling are Trump's shadowy relationships with questionable Russian business people and billionaires (such as, casino entrepreneur Sheldon Adelson and hedge fund manager Robert Mercer). Trump has ignored an almost 40 year bipartisan tradition by refusing to release his tax returns. As with his health, why can't Trump be transparent - what (if anything) is Trump hiding?
Both the Clinton and Trump Family Foundations Promote the Family Brand: The Clintons and Trumps like to be generous - but with other people's money - while claiming as much credit for their families as they can. Trump, in my opinion, comes off far worse again. He's not donated to his own foundation since 2008, and the Trump Foundation's beneficiaries are often linked to Trump's personal business or political interests. By contrast, while most Clinton Foundation money comes from non-family donors, the Clintons donate a significant amount of their own money, and have been far more generous than the Trumps, relative to their incomes. Moreover, the Clinton Foundation has real programs that help real people in need.
Clinton and Trump are not equivalent, equally bad candidates. Further, Hillary Clinton has important competencies and virtues that Trump sorely lacks. She has served in government in senior roles, and shown herself to have a steady temperament during crisis situations. By contrast, Trump has shown himself to be incredibly sensitive to any criticism - even when he is completely in error. Trump has also shown little concern with human life, openly bragging about wanting to commit war crimes and atrocities. As Republican Senator Rubio said, we can't give the nuclear launch "codes of the United States to an erratic individual" such as Trump.
Trump has no respect for our constitutional separation of powers (e.g., claiming a U.S. Federal judge should not be trusted because of where his grandparents came from; threatening to lock up his opponents once he becomes president). Even the Republican Speaker of the House described Trump's remarks as the 'textbook definition' of racism. Clinton has none of these vices - no one thinks she's a racist, nothing suggests she'll start a nuclear war over a minor personal insult, and she has no history of pursuing vendettas against her political opponents.
As a group of almost 400 prominent economists (including 8 Nobel prize winners) have said:
"Trump is a dangerous, destructive choice ... He misinforms the electorate, degrades trust in public institutions with conspiracy theories, and promotes willful delusion over engagement with reality."
You may disagree with Hillary Clinton's platform, but at least it can be evaluated. And she will pass her policies into law (or not) using our constitutional system - as opposed to Trump's program of fantasy finance, demagoguery and promises of working outside the system.
Let me end with noted conservative columnist David Frum's explanation of why he voted for Hillary Clinton, even though he disagrees with her about most policy issues:
"... she is a patriot. She will uphold the sovereignty and independence of the United States. She will defend allies. She will execute the laws with reasonable impartiality. She may bend some rules for her own and her supporters' advantage. She will not outright defy legality altogether. Above all, she can govern herself; the first indispensable qualification for governing others."
Trump has none of these qualities, and a President Trump is likely to be an unprecedented disaster that our country, and the world, cannot afford.
Steven Strauss is a visiting professor at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.