I feel like I should state clearly how I have been thinking about politics.
I was raised a JW and remained an adult member until I was 25. Officially and unofficially, I was outside of politics. JWs don't vote; if they involve themselves in politics, they are kicked out. Nevertheless, my parents -- even tho my father was born to JW parents himself, and my mother was raised a JW from some time in her teens or thereabouts (she was born into a Mennonite community in Canada) -- were pretty clearly in many respects Democrats. My dad was in a union (itself a dodgy proposition as a JW) as an electrician and both of them were hugely nostalgic for the Kennedys and Camelot. My mother at least favored -- as far back as the 80s, at least -- the legalization of marijuana. They were very pro-contraception (JWs would rather you didn't have kids, so you could spend all your time going door to door), but equally strenuously anti-abortion.
When I quit being a JW, I had to figure out what I valued in terms of policy and politics. For me, reproductive choice -- a full range, from access to abortion independent of means, through cheap and readily available choices of contraception, and all the way to medical and technological intervention to help people have children who were having difficulties doing so -- is a no brainer. No central organization, no list of rules can possibly capture the range of dilemmas faced by women; women should always have the right to choose, supported by the people they choose to support them. After that, my generation takes environmental issues as fundamental.
I flirted for a while with all kinds of bad ideas. I've had a concealed carry permit and spent a lot of time at the range. My big issue there was, We Need Unleaded Ammo. I couldn't get any traction on that idea at all. When I got to red belt in my martial arts, I quit feeling like I needed to carry and eventually entirely stepped out of that community. (So if you are wondering what happened to the No War/Anti Violence of my heritage, well, _that_ is definitively Gone.) I believe in liberty, so a variety of things from anarcho-socialism to libertarianism held some appeal. But I also am a big believer in solving problems as a group, and I'm not so idealistic that I can ignore free loaders.
When I finally stuck my toe in the water and started voting, it was a simple matter to list off my beliefs, the beliefs of the two major parties and pick one. That Single Issue at the top determined the answer for me. But my other major issues -- the environment, solving problems together, addressing the free loader problem, etc. -- make my party alignment unambiguous.
This election cycle has presented me with a conundrum. I would have loved Elizabeth Warren to be our first woman president. But she didn't run, and I never took Bernie Sanders seriously because he seems to utterly lack the ability to come to a consensus, to compromise or even to see an issue from someone else's perspective unless they bludgeon him with something embarrassing and then hold him still while a team yells at him. That's nothing I want in a leader.
I, personally, really enjoyed both Clinton administrations. I made a ton of money. Don't Ask Don't Tell was better than actively prosecuting homosexuality as a crime in the military. The Clintons switched to supporting the death penalty, which I had some mixed feelings about, but their reasoning I fully supported: they talked to the families of victims and understood how they were feeling. I _like_ people who listen, and who are willing to change in the face of a compelling argument. I _really_ like that when someone has a strong commitment to _representing_ their constituency, not just telling their constituents what they _should_ believe.
I heard a lot of awful lies, rumor and innuendo about the Clintons. When I moved to New Hampshire, and was reading shelves, I came across a book written about the many and varied lies told -- in the pages of the New York Times, giving them credibility they otherwise never would have had -- about them and their associates. I had a pretty good sense about how all the investigations had turned out and honestly wasn't too impressed by how little fire there was under all that smoke. And I have since watched more of the same play out, always ending in a sputter, rather than a scandal. Hours billed incorrectly. Minor regulations routinely ignored by others were also broken by a Clinton or a Clinton associate. Etc.
Obviously, I want a woman President. And I want a Democratic President. I actually really, really like and admire HRC. If you look up my record of donations (you can! It's public information), you'll see I haven't given her any money. Instead, I've been giving money to women candidates challenging Republican and/or Tea Party incumbents in districts where they have a chance. Not a great chance, but a chance. Those women all share my Single Issue. They come from a range of backgrounds, a range of ages. But they are all supporting HRC for President; I haven't been impressed yet by someone who endorsed Bernie and refused to support HRC after the convention and I don't expect I ever will (there's no Jamie Eldredge sign on my lawn this year for a reason).
I don't know, and on some basic level, I don't much care how you make up your mind how to vote or who to vote for in this election cycle. But I do care about this. I want you to think about it. I want you to _care_ about what happens. I want you to think about the future, and your kids or the children of people you love, and I want you to think about the world they will grow up to live in. From that future orientation, I want you to look at the candidates -- and the ballot questions -- that you will have to tick boxes next to on election day (or sooner), and decide _not_ whether you like the person, and _not_ whether you've ever been made suspicious of the person.
Ask yourself: Can this person do the job the way you think it needs to be done? Fundamentally, elected office is a job. I think you can figure out who is better prepared to do it in the way you want it done. Vote for that person.
And after you've figured out who will make a better president, spend a little time learning about the many other races you will be voting in (and the questions you may be answering). You'll learn a lot about yourself and you'll be doing your part to make our country the way it always has been: the greatest democracy the world has ever seen.