I have not publicly endorsed a presidential candidate in 44 years. But this year—the most important presidential election in my lifetime—I feel compelled to do so.
For decades I have advocated a completely pro-life agenda: pro-life and pro-poor; pro-family and pro–racial justice; pro–sexual integrity and pro-peacemaking and pro–creation care. This agenda is expressed in the National Association of Evangelicals’ public policy document “For the Health of the Nation.”
For decades, as I applied this agenda, I regularly concluded that Republican presidential candidates were better on issues like abortion, marriage and family, and religious freedom, while Democratic candidates were better on racial justice, economic justice, and the environment. So I have voted for both Republicans (George W. Bush) and Democrats (Barack Obama).
But 2016 is astonishingly different from other election years. Hillary Clinton is bad and good in the usual ways. But Donald Trump is not only bad in many of the usual ways—he is also bad in the ways in which I have usually preferred Republicans.
Trump’s recent pro-life stand is not credible. Historically he has supported abortion access, even to partial-birth abortion, and still supports Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest supplier of abortions.
Trump’s personal marriage record is horrendous. He humiliated his first wife by publicly flaunting an affair. He is now in his third marriage, while Clinton has remained with her husband in spite of his despicable behavior.
Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from immigrating to the United States was a fundamental violation of the constitutional protection of religious freedom.
So what about Clinton?
I have major disagreements with her. She and the Democratic platform are wrong on abortion—period. And I disagree with Clinton on gay marriage.
Further, I fear that Clinton will not retain the longstanding right (protected by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama) of faith-based organizations that receive government funding to hire on the basis of their beliefs. She is too close to Wall Street billionaires and made a serious mistake using private email servers as Secretary of State.
But there is also much to like about Clinton. She has a decades-long history of working hard for racial and economic justice. One of her earliest jobs was working as a lawyer at the black-led Children’s Defense Fund to improve the lives of poor children. At a time when racial injustice and mistrust threaten to tear the nation apart, her experience and trust in minority communities is invaluable.
Clinton realizes that lower-income Americans have lost ground in the past 30 years, and has advocated concrete policies to alleviate the growing divide between rich and poor. Her $350 billion college affordability program would help lower-income students afford higher education. Raising the minimum wage to $12 and tax cuts (15%) for companies that share profits with workers would help. Her proposed expansion of health insurance to cover all Americans is surely pro-life.
Clinton has a realistic and just way to pay for these programs. The middle class would get a modest tax cut, while those with annual incomes over $5 million would have a 4-percent tax increase. She has promised to close tax loopholes that allow corporations to avoid their fair share of taxes. Warren Buffett supports Clinton, saying she would help poor working Americans. The independent, bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says Clinton’s plan would not add significantly to the national debt.