My Endorsements for 2016

 Tonight is the primary in New Hampshire, and with the field narrowed, two victors have been selected: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. As the race moves forward from here on out, I feel that it's only natural that I endorse two candidates, one from each party. And although my top choices might seem strange, hear me out on why I have chosen them. On the Democratic side: Hillary Clinton; on the GOP side, Donald Trump. 
Hillary Clinton is perhaps the most qualified person to run for president since George HW Bush. She was one of the most politically active First Ladies in US History. In 1993, she campaigned effortlessly for a universal health care system, similar to what we now have as Obamacare. Although she ultimately lost, she did manage to get better health care for children. As New York's senator, she fought for funding to repair the damage caused by the 9/11 Attacks, and to improve the security of her state. She also voted to authorize the Afghan War, voted against the Bush tax cuts and against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which sought to ban gay marriage completely. And as Secretary of State, before retiring in 2013, she had a much more hawkish foreign policy than President Obama, whose weakness in the Middle East is widely known.
Indeed, Clinton lost the last time she ran for president. The "shiny new thing"--as the president recently suggested Bernie Sanders is--was a youthful, well-spoken new Senator from Illinois who didn't have much experience, but ran on a campaign of hope and change. Seven years later, President Obama has saved us from the Great Recession, killed Bin Laden and many of his close cohorts, and ensured millions of Americans under Obamacare, but has also appeased our enemies and alienated our allies. The vast majority of Americans don't approve of his plans to take on ISIS. Many also don't agree with his passing of the nuclear deal with Iran. Hillary agrees with the president on both issues, has supported a no-fly zone in Syria, and wants to bring in Syrian refugees to the United States, while also embracing the idea of giving a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. She has been sounding like--and agreeing with--the president more and more in a desperate appeal to younger and more leftist voters that support Bernie Sanders. And her record of being a flip-flopper on many issues, being an establishment candidate, and taking SuperPAC money has turned off vast amounts of the electorate from supporting her. But while those are valid concerns--even for me--Clinton's experience and record trump all of them. Her tone on Iran and the Palestinians is far sharper and harsher than the current president's. In a 2008 interview, she vowed to "obliterate" Iran if it attacked Israel. She sternly said in September that Iran would, under a President Clinton, never be allowed to be a nuclear nation. She supported Israel's building of the security barrier in the West Bank, and believes the Jewish state must vigorously be defended in the UN. The truth probably is that Hillary is only parroting Obama to win over his biggest supporters: youthful new voters who back Sanders, and African-Americans. She most likely left her post as Secretary of State in 2013 because of disagreements with this administration on the Middle East, among other foreign policy failures of Obama, and to prepare for her second run for president.
Bernie Sanders may have some good ideas, but he is clueless on foreign policy, perhaps even more than the current president. Indeed, his Middle East policies would be extremely harmful for Israel. And there is just no way that Congress--even with many Democrats, should they retake total or partial control of it--would pass much of what he proposes. He still hasn't been specific about his policy plans. While identifying many severe issues with the American economy and political system, he hasn't put together a comprehensive plan for dealing with them in the way that his opponent has. And if Sanders were the Democratic nominee, while polls say otherwise, he'd be trounced by the Republican candidate. There's just no way that Independents and even some moderate Democrats (let alone left-leaning Republicans) would support a self-identified socialist. 
On the GOP side, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is my prime choice. When he first ran, I considered him a joke of a candidate. His "birther" comments about the president in 2012 and over-the-top offensive statements early in his campaign during the "Summer of Trump" made me suspect that he was secretly a Clinton plant. His phone call with Bill Clinton shortly before announcing his candidacy, former support for Hillary and other Democrats, and constant bashing of his competitors made me suspect that this was engineered: if he won the nomination, Clinton would beat him hands down. If he lost, he either would run as a third-party candidate and cause Hillary to win, or the GOP brand would be so damaged by his comments that she'd win anyways. But then I saw his numerous rallies and debate performances, and saw something new, the beginning of something wonderful: Secular Republicanism. Nobody truly believes that The Donald is a religious man, even though he leads with evangelicals and makes occasional comments about his "little cracker" in communion, liking "traditional marriage", and wanting to defund Planned Parenthood. Even Texas Senator Ted Cruz assailed the real estate mogul for his "New York values". But Trump has managed, in some ways, to destroy the Conservative Triad that Ronald Reagan put together in 1980 (evangelicals, fiscal conservatives, and war hawks), and in other ways, unify and expand those who support him. The former reality-TV star runs as an outsider who derides America's "stupid leaders" that ship American jobs overseas or allow illegal immigrants to "steal" them. When questioned about gay marriage, he merely said it was "the law of the land" and suggested that even if a Republican wanted to make it illegal, it'd be impossible. He has spoken little of it, or of abortion, unlike other GOP candidates. Trump has also said that he supports a single-payer health care system--he tried to moderate his views recently, saying the government would take care of those who can't afford to pay for health care, but otherwise has been vague about his plan. He is for equal pay for equal work, has admitted the nuclear deal can't be "ripped up" as Ted Cruz promises (though he says he can get a better deal that would be more punitive on Iran). He also believes that America should remain out of the Syrian quagmire, instead improving its relationship with Russia and allowing them to destroy ISIS and others before we "pick up the remnants". Instead, he backs investing in the United States to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure; bringing jobs back from China, Japan, Mexico, and various other places; embraces the idea of fairer trade by putting tariffs on Chinese and other foreign goods flowing into the US; lowering taxes on the poor and middle-class; and supports taking oil sites in Iraq (and mineral sites in Afghanistan) in an effort to both expand the American economy and halt the financing of terrorism. 
Sure, The Donald has no experience in government and is very vague about his plans. But it all falls into place for him: he is a dealmaker who must carefully examine all his options, and then find out the best way to "win". To do so, one must never reveal his/her hand. As such, he is completely unpredictable. His assaults on "bought and paid for" politicians in Congress of both parties, his GOP rivals, and President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders allow him to dominate the media so that he can spend very little of his own money, or that of independent donors, and still gain the most attention and dominate the polls. Meanwhile, Jeb! Bush and others spend millions of SuperPAC dollars on attack ads that fail to gain traction, and languish in the polls, despite their experience. And while Trump isn't eloquent--he often gives the same stump speech--he talks like  normal person, allowing him to connect with his working-class base in a way that another billionaire, Mitt Romney, never could in 2012. He is funny, successful, and patriotic. Trump taps into nationalism at a time when it seems to many voters that President Obama and Democrats are ashamed of being American and want to change this country into emulating the EU more and more. Trump believes that America's veterans are being mistreated while illegal immigrants and Muslim refugees are getting freebies. He opposes a "crumbling, shrinking military" at a time when ISIS, Iran, North Korea and China are testing the US' resolve. And perhaps most importantly, he loathes political correctness, taking it by the horns and abusing it.
The other GOP candidates have failed to gain traction because they are more socially conservative than most Americans like, embrace the failed Reaganomics model, and are seen by their base as caring only for their own profit, which is why they have failed to "stand up to Obama". I do agree with much of their foreign policy ideas and pro-Israel stances, but almost nothing else. Ted Cruz is an evangelical homophobe that is anti-choice. Carly Fiorina has a failed record as a CEO and Senate candidate, and Ben Carson, while being brilliant in the field of medicine, is clueless on politics. Jeb! is a has-been and is a terrible campaigner; Rubio is well-rehearsed but inexperienced; Christie is surrounded by scandals in his home state. Jim Gilmore is a non-entity. And while I like John Kasich (he probably could beat Hillary if he ran, due to getting support from Independents or moderate Democrats who dislike her), his suggestion of ending environmental regulations is a disaster, and he is too liberal to energize the base. For sure, Trump has serious issues. His rhetoric is often unnecessarily divisive and extremist, which could be to his own detriment. His rejection of gun control and pretending global warming isn't an issue is very concerning. And while I like him being an outsider, I do wish he had some type of political experience before running. But he has convinced me in other ways that he is the best GOP candidate in the race. He is far more secular than the other Republicans running; his liberal past on social issues and the economy resonates with me strongly. He is hawkish in terms of foreign policy, and very pro-Israel, but also knows when not to get involved, as exemplified with his plan on Syria. Trump rejects bringing in refugees from the Middle East: while their plight is heartbreaking, there are merely too many security concerns, as exemplified by the situation in Europe, to bring them here. Trump is tearing apart the very party that has, for the past few decades, screwed the American people over and over in favor of their wallets. He has proven wrong the pundits who declared him a "summer fling"--soon after, we saw "The Autumn of The Donald", defying expectations. He has created thousands and thousands of jobs, and as a skilled negotiator, could make great deals for our economy and foreign relations. 
Ironically, Hillary Clinton is the only Democrat who could beat Donald Trump, and he is probably the only Republican who can beat her. Bernie Sanders may sometimes poll better than Trump, but Trump has defied expectations, is vicious in attacks on his rivals, and would use the "socialist card" against Sanders to gain Independent voters. And while Rubio or Kasich have a good shot at beating Hillary, it's unlikely that these establishment candidates could get enough of their base to vote for them on election day, while Hillary would undoubtedly get liberals to come out and vote for her just to keep the Supreme Court out of the hands of Republicans. Hillary could take Trump to task on his flip-flops on policy, his divisive and controversial rhetoric on illegal immigrants and Muslims, and his lack of experience. She'd likely be able to get enough young people and Latinos to vote for her to take her to victory in November. On the other hand, Trump is the only one who can attack Hillary from the left (saying she's a member of the establishment that is bought and paid for by Wall Street) but also from the right (saying that she is part of the reason the US is weakened in the face of a rising China, aggressive Iran, belligerent North Korea, and vicious ISIS). He could, with his outsider and anti-TPP credentials, get a number of Sanders supporters to either back him, vote for a 3rd Party candidate, or simply sit this election out, rather than vote for Hillary Clinton. 
As a young, gay, Jewish person of color, my support for Trump may seem odd. As a college student, one might think I'd rather #FeeltheBern than be #ReadyforHillary. But I think a Hillary vs The Donald race would be entertaining, and engage the American people--on both sides of the political isle--in the election process, which is crucial at a time when voter turnout is so low. Both of these candidates are very flawed, but also have a lot of good ideas as well. Perhaps because of this--because they are so human--I support both and look forward to the day when they run against each other as the nominees of their parties.