I’m a Republican, and I’m with Hillary Clinton

I am a firm believer in the fundamental tenets of the Republican Party: individual freedom, small government, local control of issues, free speech, strong national defense and the broad vision that America is an exceptional country that gives exceptional opportunities to everyone.

I take my civic responsibilities very seriously. None more so than the solemn duty to elect the president of our country. Donald Trump is neither representative of our values nor qualified to lead the nation.

Of all the elections in which I have participated, none has become more transcendental to the definition of “We the people” and the very nature of our democracy than the one we face today.

No longer can we seek solace in wishful thinking or the illusion that this is just an election cycle and that by divine intervention all will be better after we vote. There is no basis in thinking that our democracy is so strong, our checks and balances so finely hedged, that no single person can lead us off the precipice. Trump can.

No longer can we hide behind the excuse that party loyalty is paramount, and that a bad candidate of our own is always better than any candidate of theirs. Blind loyalty in this case is the ultimate definition of disloyalty to our beliefs. Loyalty to our nation must be the ultimate arbiter of our choice.

I have watched this election unfold, from that first press conference where the population of an entire country was cast as insulting to our core. This led to a neverending spiral of vulgarity, intellectual dishonesty, invective, abuse, misogyny, racism, intolerance, bullying, ignorance and downright cruelty. The fact that the person unleashing these forces, reflecting beliefs and biases that we had long ago identified as at odds with the Founding Fathers’ principle of ordered liberty was a member of my party, was at first cause for irritation evolving into alarm and frustration and finally arriving at a sobering moment of embarrassment for my party, and beyond that, of profound concern for my beloved country.

We have seen him attack our institutions and receive cheering adoration. At rallies he has implied that if his wish to lead the nation is not granted by popular vote, that the national system is rigged and deserving of attack. This is insanity and dictatorial machinations at best.

As a Republican whos has contributed millions of dollars to the party’s causes, I ask: Why has our party not sought a psychological evaluation of its nominee?”

This abysmally unfit candidate has unleased racist and violent acts. There has been no need for dog whistles. The call to brand entire religions and countries as unworthy and despicable, and the call for profoundly un-American practices, including asking the honorable men and women serving our country in the military to engage in the profoundly dishonorable task of torturing human beings and killing innocent families, has been open and unequivocal. The very worst in our society, the Klan and the neo-Nazis, revel in this horrific rhetoric.

I have arrived at this difficult moment. A moment that may define leaders and followers. I harbor no illusion that Hillary Clinton is perfect; none of us is. I do not see eye to eye on some issues with the former senator from New York. However, Clinton is, without doubt, a superior choice to Donald Trump.

Balancing any of her shortcomings are intelligence, experience, as well as the humility to accept that she does not have all the answers. She has delegated effectively over the decades in public service. These attributes will serve her well as president.

The republic should outlast any party. Our democratic spirit will ensure that we do and that this shining city on the hill eventually will shine even brighter.

I am equally convinced that our republic will be placed in fundamental peril if we are foolish enough to elect a person who has made it clear that he does not share in our democratic values and that the only idol in his temple is himself. And he is willing to pull down the glorious edifice of our American democracy.

And so my fellow Republicans, swallow hard, look into your heart — and your gut. Vote for Hillary Clinton and then every single Republican on the ticket.

Do that, and rest assured that you will have served your country well.

Michael “Mike” B. Fernandez is chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, based in Coral Gables.