The choice is not hard. The campaign has provided daily evidence that Mr Trump would be a terrible president. He has exploited America’s simmering racial tensions. His experience, temperament and character make him horribly unsuited to being the head of state of the nation that the rest of the democratic world looks to for leadership, the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful armed forces and the person who controls America’s nuclear deterrent.
That alone would stop us from casting a vote, if we had one, for Mr Trump. As it happens, he has a set of policies to go with his personality. A Trump government would cut taxes for the richest while imposing trade protection that would raise prices for the poorest. We disagree with him on the environment, immigration, America’s role in the world and other things besides. His ideas on revenue and spending are an affront to statistics. We would sooner have endorsed Richard Nixon—even had we known how he would later come to grief.
In one sense Mrs Clinton is revolutionary. She would be America’s first female president in the 240 years since independence. This is not a clinching reason to vote for her. But it would be a genuine achievement. In every other sense, however, Mrs Clinton is a self-confessed incrementalist. She believes in the power of small changes compounded over time to bring about larger ones. An inability to sound as if she is offering an overnight transformation is one of the things that makes her a bad campaigner. Presidential nominees are now expected to inspire. Mrs Clinton would have been better-suited to the first half-century of presidential campaigns, when the candidates did not even give public speeches.
However, a prosaic style combined with gradualism and hard work could make for a more successful presidency than her critics allow. In foreign policy, where the president’s power is greatest, Mrs Clinton would look out from the Resolute desk at a world that has inherited some of the risks of the cold war but not its stability. China’s rise and Russia’s decline call for both flexibility and toughness. International institutions, such as the UN, are weak; terrorism is transnational.