That Donald Trump is manifestly unfit for the presidency of the United States should be beyond obvious by now. There are the personality defects: he's a braggart, a fabulist, a scammer, a narcissist prone to petulant outbursts, a compulsive liar (more in the vein of a sociopath than a typically cynical politician), a racist, and, as we have come to learn recently, certainly a boor and quite possibly a serial perpetrator of sexual assault. There are myriad political defects, too: his thin skin and tendency to lash out, his inability to make nice with members of his own party, his unhinged demagoguery, his fascistic tendencies, his animus toward the First Amendment, his threat to jail his opponents like a third-rate dictator, his idiotic plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, and—not that policy has really mattered all that much—his proposed tax giveaways to the very rich and a fiscal plan that might well lead the country to ruin. Even his singular claim to the office—that he built a multibillion-dollar empire thanks to his business acumen—is a sham, built as his empire was on a foundation of fraud, exploitation, and bankruptcies.
He is, in short, the worst candidate to claim a major party's nomination since at least World War II. As of this writing, it seems likely that he's going to lose—and lose badly. And all those who hitched their wagons to this ludicrous candidate and his deplorable base in hopes of boosting their political fortunes (ahem, Pat McCrory) deserve to go down with him. If you value political norms and basic human decency, it is your civic duty not just to see Trump defeated, but to see him clobbered by such a margin that the ideology he represents is wiped off the map—to show, once and for all, that we are better than that.
Which brings us to his opponents. First, Libertarian Gary Johnson, who, while preferable to Trump—in that he hasn't overtly targeted minorities and has more evolved views on criminal justice and drug prohibition—has demonstrated a reed-thin understanding of foreign policy and offers an equally foolish fiscal policy, which replaces the income tax with a consumption tax and proposes deregulation schemes that would be horrid for everyone but those at the upper echelons of the capitalist class. More to the point, Johnson's polling in the single digits and isn't going to win; a vote for him might as well be a vote for Trump. But even if that weren't the case, he's hardly a progressive champion—even if he does like to smoke weed. Second, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who did not qualify for the North Carolina ballot but can be written in. Prone to conspiracy-minded pseudoscience such as the idea Wi-Fi is dangerous to children's brains, Stein is not a serious candidate. She's unworthy of even a protest vote.
Finally, Hillary Clinton—an imperfect candidate, to be sure. She is, in our view, overly cautious, calculating, and secretive, as the email scandal and, more recently, a spate of Wikileaks releases have demonstrated. The Clinton Foundation, as incredibly admirable as its work has been (and it has, no matter what Fox News tells you), also opened the door for the world's wealthiest individuals to try to curry favor through seven-figure (or higher) donations, furthering the perception that she and Bill Clinton habitually tiptoe to the edge of impropriety and think the rules don't apply to them. Moreover, her husband's administration was tarnished both by his own peccadillos and his loathsome triangulation. It's perfectly natural for progressives to fret that her administration, too, would be mired by scandal and compromise. And her vote for the Iraq War and hawkishness are certainly causes for concern.
But that doesn't mean she's merely the lesser of two evils. Put aside her flaws and missteps—all of which have been picked over and investigated and run through the talk radio meat grinder ad nauseam for the last quarter century—and you're left with a woman who has long advocated for the welfare of women and children, who ably demonstrated her skills as a diplomat while secretary of state, who diligently immerses herself into the nuts and bolts of policy, who believes government can be a force for progress, who has shown resilience in the face of vicious attacks, who has been knocked down time and time again but always gotten up.
And whatever Clinton's centrist leanings, the platform approved at the Democratic National Convention this summer is bar none the most progressive a major party has ever adopted (thanks, Bernie): marriage equality, minimum wage, climate change, a public option for health care, free college tuition for most families. She has proposed raising taxes on the wealthy and an ambitious jobs program, and, even if she accomplishes nothing else, she will forestall Republican attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act, gut social services, and reconfigure the tax code to the Koch brothers' benefit. And, most important, she'll likely have the opportunity to stack the Supreme Court with justices more in the mold of Ruth Bader Ginsburg than Antonin Scalia, which will do more than anything else to entrench progressivism in the American political system for generations to come.
Also, did we mention that she's not Donald Trump?