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The modern conservative movement deeply entrenched in the Republican Party, dating to the rise of Ronald Reagan, created a long and successful path in American politics, especially across the South.

Ideas about fiscal responsibility at all levels of government owe a debt of gratitude to the movement. Conservatives elevated debate on how taxpayer dollars are spent. They insisted upon, and won, a commitment to maintain a strong military.

Since Reagan stepped into the nation’s highest office, Republicans and Democrats have exchanged lively debate and found compromise, ensuring our nation remains committed to serving its people with compassion and effectiveness.

While recent years have sometimes been difficult politically, one newcomer threatens to undo the unique political system that gives a range of Americans representation in Washington. Donald Trump, the brash and loudly outspoken businessman, burst on the scene to brush aside an able field of candidates to claim the Republican nomination for president. Unfortunately, Trump is far from qualified to hold office, leaving voters with only one viable choice – Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Even among many Republicans, concern grows that their nominee will cause widespread discontent, deepen the polarization of our country, and eventually discredit the office of the presidency and the effectiveness of government. Concern within the party grew last week after release of a 2005 video in which Trump brags that his celebrity status allows him to grope and fondle women at will.

Standing on the other side is Clinton, the former U.S. senator and secretary of state. While she is recognized as a talented political figure, and truly brings desirable experience to the table, her reputation causes concerns, as well.

Nevertheless, Trump is an unfathomable enigma. His self-assertive and boastful style attracts many potential voters because he speaks freely on any topic. The worrisome parts of his candidness are a tendency to insult ethnic and religious groups, his callous comments about women, and his endless contradictions on issues.

More broadly, Trump irresponsibly promises millions of new jobs without specifics, embraces tax breaks for the wealthy with no explanation of how to pay for them, and threatens to repeal Obamacare without offering an alternative, an action that would likely leave one-third of Americans without health insurance.

Trump shows little understanding of the complexities of domestic and international challenges. His thin skin, impulsiveness and temperament make him a high risk in tense situations. He offers no ideas on how to address increasing racial unrest in urban cities. He cavalierly promises to destroy ISIS with military power and illegal torture. He talks of abandoning NATO and terminating longstanding defense agreements with Japan and South Korea. If elected, there is a strong possibility he might isolate the United States from the world no matter the dire consequences.

Trump has been unclear about his policies, leaving voters guessing as to how he might face future economic and diplomatic challenges. He has irritated veterans with his antics and threatens to create a gulf in race relations that would cause setbacks for our nation.

Trump does not represent the conservatism inspired by Reagan and other widely respected leaders. There is no indication he would work with any amount of restraint if he occupied the Oval Office.

Clinton, on the other hand, has an economic strategy that includes reforming the tax code to close loopholes for the rich and big corporations, reducing health care and drug costs, investing in roads and bridges, lowering college costs and student debt, and strengthening oversight of big banks.

On national security, Clinton’s experience as secretary of state makes her well equipped to deal with terrorist and nuclear threats. She has also developed relationships with world leaders, and she knows how to deal effectively with aggression by the likes of Iran, Russia, North Korea and China.

Clinton also has a comprehensive immigration plan that includes a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who are contributing to the nation’s economy and paying taxes, and nowhere in the strategy is an unrealistic 2,000-mile wall stretching across the U.S. border with Mexico.

We understand that Clinton’s negatives can’t be ignored. Questions linger about how she mishandled security-sensitive emails while secretary of state, her initial statements on the terrorist raid on the U.S. post in Benghazi, and the Clinton Foundation. These concerns leave many people reluctant to vote for her.

Nonetheless, Clinton has operated in roles where checks and balances were in place, and by all indications she mostly operated within that framework. She recognizes that government belongs to the people – a founding American principle.

We understand, for conservatives, the idea of voting for someone not aligned with their party, and who at times has been viewed unsavory, is difficult. Additionally, as the election nears, some voters will take a closer look at Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, or the Green Party nominee Jill Stein. But, in truth, these candidates’ views and experiences lack the broad perspective necessary to effectively govern a nation as diverse as the United States.

Hillary Clinton, for all her faults, understands the need for political parties to come together at times for the sake of constructing legislation that serve the people. Her ability to react rationally during a national security crisis stands far above Trump’s.

Bottom line: She is a stronger choice for president than anyone on the ballot. Her record of public service and detailed knowledge of the colossal issues facing the nation earns her our endorsement to become the 45th president of the United States.

The Cullman Times, of Cullman, Ala., is a sister publication of the Mineral Wells Index. The Index endorses this editorial.