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Following the American elections has been a somewhat dispiriting experience for classical liberals, even for us Brits who do not get a ballot. Who should those of us who believe in low taxes, social freedom, and a caring but restrained state want to become the most powerful person in the world?

On the one hand there is Donald Trump. From his vile anti-immigration rhetoric and misogynistic outbursts, to his backing of trade tariffs, there is nothing liberal to be found in either the reality TV star’s slowly (very slowly,) emerging policy portfolio or his hair-raisingly brusque personality.

Indeed, Trump has seemingly set up his campaign to be intentionally anti-liberal. There is, of course, the infamous wall on the border with Mexico, and then his disgraceful proposed ban on Muslim immigrants to the US. Frankly, nobody who wants to build a wall against a neighbouring country, or ban an entire religion from entering their country, is worthy of a liberal vote.

But the Trump Horror Show does not end there. During the primary season the now Republican candidate vowed that if elected he would impose a 45 per cent tariff on Chinese imports and a 35 per cent tariff on imports from Mexico. His moves would inevitably spark a trade war, something Trump himself has acknowledged. Referencing the US’s goods trade deficit with Mexico he said: “I don’t mind trade wars when we’re losing $58 billion a year.”

Well those of us in the liberal centre-right should mind, and should be very concerned about the possibility of a protectionist President who would jeopardise free trade, as should the American public at large.

Then, on the other hand there is Secretary Hillary Clinton. Given Trump’s numerous and significant flaws, surely it is easy to back his opponent? Not so. To start with, Clinton voted in favour of the controversial Patriot Act, and has made worrying calls for increased surveillance powers to track terror suspects on social media.

She also has shown a desire to splash the cash in an attempt to bolster the economy, and is (also) being pressured to do (so) even more of this by the socialist residue of the Senator Bernie Sanders campaign. Clinton’s tax plan includes implementing the Buffett rule, a “fair share surcharge” on multi-millionaires and billionaires that, while populist, could be deemed anti-success.

On free trade, Clinton has expressed scepticism at globalisation over the years too. She can now often be found expressing similar positions to those taken by her opponent, and has contorted herself between supporting and condemning deals like TPP.

There is an alternative in the shape of the Libertarian ticket, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Both former Republican Governors of traditionally Democratic states, Johnson and Weld want to offer a balanced budget within their first 100 days in office, and significantly shrink the size of the federal government, vowing to close entire departments. They also take a much less interventionist approach in foreign policy (although this can seem somewhat isolationist) and want to end the utterly failed war on drugs.

The problem is there is absolutely no chance of them getting elected, with Johnson having missed the 15 per cent polling threshold in order to appear in the first Presidential TV and unlikely to make the second or third ones. Votes for the Libertarians could end up ushering Trump into the White House, and Johnson himself admits he is barely known to the wider public. Oh, and for goodness sake do not ask him about Aleppo, or the leaders of foreign countries…

So what is a liberal to do? Her obvious political experience and competence, both on its own and when compared with Trump’s total lack of it, is arguably enough of a reason on its own to support Clinton. She also has a strong record of social liberalism that is worth backing. Her support for LGBT rights and the rights of other minorities, as well as her feminism, is something we should embrace.

In fairness to Trump he, like Clinton, wants to reduce taxes on middle class families. However, there is a lack of nuance to his plan meaning it benefits the very top as well as those who could most do with a tax cut, making it rather regressive. In reality his isolationist and outdated worldview is the antithesis to what liberals stand for.

So yes, on balance, liberals who can, should probably back Hillary. She’s competent, dutifully concerned about the fiscal deficit, socially liberal, and does not want to pull up the drawbridge to the world in the same way as Trump does.

However, the weeks running up to the election are unlikely to be inspiring for those of us of a classical liberal persuasion. Our best hope may be that whoever takes up home in the White House in January has to change some of the policies they ran on, and that they embrace a more centrist agenda.

Charlotte Henry is a journalist and broadcaster covering technology, media, and politics and a member of Bright Blue. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.