"So you're voting for Donald Trump, right?"
It's a question I get pretty often. Not because I'm an outspoken Republican - in fact, I consider myself to be politically independent. But rather, it's because I fit the profile of a GOP voter: I believe that the purpose of government is to respect human dignity and unleash its potential, something Paul Ryan calls the American Idea. On top of that, I am religious and fiscally conservative - I even attend Donald Trump's alma mater, The Wharton School.
My answer is not nuanced, nor is it centrist. My answer is visceral. It is emotional. My answer is "absolutely not."
As a student, I often try to approach difficult questions from an empirical mindset. For me, the 2016 election was no different. I recently penned an editorial explaining why mathematically, millennials are the biggest impediment to Donald Trump becoming president. Since millennials represent one-third of the electorate and they favor Hillary Clinton 52-19, they will prevent him from taking the White House.
The problem with being too empirical is that we often lose sight of the things that really matter. What I didn't do was explain why so many young people -- especially conservatives -- reject Donald Trump. I want to do that now, for the sake of the Republican voters who are wondering why one in four young conservatives plans to vote for Clinton in November. You can almost hear them saying: Hillary Clinton is a flip-flopping, liar who violated the law by using a private email server, and bungled Bengasi. How could young conservatives be so stupid?
I can't speak for all millennials, but I will do my best to explain why I'm casting my ballot for Hillary Clinton in November.
To start, I don't think Donald Trump is the lesser of two evils, as so many Republicans seem to be saying lately. "At least he's not Hillary." You've heard it said by friends, you've seen it on TV, and you've most definitely heard this said in just about every Republican senator's endorsement of Trump.
Hillary Clinton may be a flawed candidate, but Donald Trump is ethically bankrupt -- a person who mocks disabled people, refuses to denounce the KKK, calls Mexicans rapists and criminals, and plans to ban an entire religious group from entering our country. There is no moral equivalence between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. For me, there is no ambiguity and no nuance on that question. For voters whose core values include authenticity, optimism and tolerance of diversity, Donald Trump is an anathema.
As for Hillary Clinton, the level of vitriol levelled at her by Republicans is irrational, almost cultish. Sometimes when I'm reading Republican statements to the media, I think they must have confused Hillary Clinton with Darth Vader. Sure, she's in favor of big government, doesn't seem authentic, and flip-flops a lot. That makes her no different than about 90% of Washington -- it hardly makes her the single last person I'd want in the White House, as Bobby Jindal recently said. The last eight years under President Obama were by no means so terrible as to convince me that a reality TV star should be the next Commander-in-Chief.
Second, I feel no obligation to vote for a Republican. In reality, I think blind partisan politics is driving a lot of consolidation around Trump in Washington. Not only am I not a registered Republican but also I have never voted for a Republican president in my life. In this, I am not alone. Half of all millennials identify as being politically independent. Donald Trump is not "my nominee." In fact, conservative millennials rejected Donald Trump in the Republican primary, often giving Ted Cruz a majority of their votes, even in states Donald Trump won outright.
Finally, I am not so opposed to Hillary Clinton that I would consider supporting a 3rd party candidate. I understand why establishment GOP politicians don't want to be seen voting for Donald Trump -- who is lacks conservative values -- or for Hillary Clinton, who they have been ideologically opposed to for decades. But I don't have a political ideology. I am a pragmatic person who sees my vote as a means to an end. In a world where young people can't find good jobs, our country in under attack, and our social safety net is going bankrupt, I'm not about to use my vote to make a political statement. I'm going to use it to vote for the best-qualified candidate.
In this election cycle, that candidate is Hillary Clinton.