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“The Enormous Downside Risk of Trump is the Most Compelling Reason for Us to Act…”

By Marshall Tuck - September 26, 2016

I wanted to share my thoughts on the upcoming Presidential election with my friends and colleagues.  I usually focus on education related topics with the people on this email list but given what I believe is at stake in the upcoming Presidential election, I thought it was appropriate to send you my thoughts on the election.

But before that, a quick update on the personal front. All is good in the Tuck household and we are grateful to be happy and healthy. Mason recently started Kindergarten at Beethoven Elementary and so far, he appears to be enjoying it – tough to completely tell with a 5-year-old :). Mae likes her new job as the VP of Marketing at SnackNation, which is an LA based start-up that delivers healthy snacks to offices on a monthly basis. I am still working as an Educator in Residence at the New Teacher Center, an organization that works with school districts to provide comprehensive mentoring and coaching supports to teachers. In my volunteer time, I continue to support candidates for the California State Assembly and State Senate who are strong on education.

On to the main purpose of this email. This email list is made up of people focused on giving all children a quality education. We span political parties and include Democrats, Republicans, Independents and probably a few Libertarians and Green Party members. I thought hard about sharing my thoughts on the Presidential election with you as I realize that many of us may have very different opinions on the election and that politics brings out a lot of emotions in people. Ultimately I decided to reach out to you because I believe this is the most important election of our lifetime and I want to do my part to help make sure we don’t elect someone who I believe is wholly unqualified to be the President of the United States.

The job of the President is probably the most important job and among the hardest jobs in the world. The President, first and foremost, is the leading role model for the people of this country and for billions of people in the world. The President is the key influencer on whether or not we go to war; leads our national security efforts, drives our anti-terrorism strategies; helps grow our economy (or minimizes the impacts of recession); sets the direction on education, healthcare, incarceration, and environmental policy; is our key spokesperson with global leaders; anchors disaster relief efforts both at home and abroad; and is the leader on countless other critical policy areas. Given the unique impact this job has on our society, I believe strongly that we have a real responsibility to ourselves, our families, our country, and future generations to elect the person to the job of the Presidency who is the most capable.

In past elections, it can be argued that the question of who was most capable of being President was unclear. Obama or Romney? Bush or Gore? Clinton or Dole? While past candidates certainly had policy differences and many of us had strong feelings about them, a legitimate case could have been made that either candidate in a given race had a shot at being effective. I do not think this is the case in the Clinton vs. Trump election in 2016. I believe that the capability gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is the greatest gap that has existed between candidates in a Presidential election during my lifetime. Can you think of any other Presidential election where the gap between the two candidates, in terms of their qualifications and skills, is as wide as it is between Clinton and Trump? I cannot.

The gap between the two candidates isn’t necessarily so wide because Hillary Clinton is a phenomenal candidate or incredibly qualified. I personally think she is qualified but also understand that she has shortcomings and that many people are not happy with her. I think the capabilities gap is historically wide because Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be President of the United States. I don’t hold this judgement based on emotion or partisanship. This judgement is based on my assessment of Trump’s life and career to date. Think of some of the key Presidential responsibilities laid out above: role model for the citizens of our nation; commander in chief; leader on national security; driver on the economy; key influencer on healthcare, education and environmental policy – when I review Trump’s business successes and failures, public and personal life, and political career (short but informative) I see very little evidence that indicates that he is at all qualified to do the hardest job in the world. A similar assessment of Clinton’s background certainly includes some concerns and gaps but ultimately shows far more experiences that indicate that she is substantially more qualified than Trump to do this extraordinarily difficult job.

The reason I am sharing my thoughts above is because I hope you will consider giving money to Hillary Clinton. Mae and I have stretched in recent months in our donations and given Hillary the most money we have ever given a Presidential candidate (or any candidate not named Marshall Tuck for that matter). We haven’t taken this action because Hillary Clinton is our favorite presidential candidate ever or because we think she will do a phenomenal job as President. We have taken this action because we believe that the risk of Hillary not winning to our community and our country is too great. There could be real long term damage to our country’s collective morale and well-being if Trump is elected. If you also believe this to be true, we encourage you to act.

Giving money to Hillary (or increasing the amount you have already given) is about the only action you can take at this point that will impact this election. This election will be determined by a number of battleground states. With more money, the Clinton campaign can run more ads and have more volunteers on the ground in those states and thus increase the chances of Hillary winning. If you have more time than money, then volunteering for her campaign is another high impact action you can take.

It is a bit unusual for me to make a case that essentially says: please support a candidate, regardless of how you feel about her, because the other option is so uniquely bad for our society and our future. I usually like to lead with optimism, hope and aspiration. But in this highly unusual election, I believe the enormous downside risk of Trump is the most compelling reason for us to act. I realize that some people are uninspired by this Presidential election and aren’t big fans of either candidate. I am not trying to convince you to change your opinion. I am asking you to think hard of what this country looks like in 4 years under a Clinton presidency and in 4 years under a Trump presidency. If you are very concerned about the picture of our country under a Trump presidency then I encourage you to take action and donate to Hillary, The risks of not acting in this election are way too high.

About the Writer:  Marshall Tuck was a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2014. He has an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Tuck served most recently as founding CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Prior to launching the Partnership, Tuck was President of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school operator based in Los Angeles. Prior to focusing his career on education, Tuck was an executive at Model N, a successful enterprise software company based in the Bay Area. Before that, he worked in finance, and spent a year teaching and doing service work internationally, primarily in Zimbabwe and Thailand.