“If Donald Trump is the nominee, I would vote for Hillary Clinton,” Armitage told POLITICO. “He doesn't appear to be to be a Republican, he doesn't appear to want to learn about issues. So I’m going to vote for Mrs. Clinton.”
I'm not terribly surprised by this. Armitage was always a moderate in the Republican ranks, not a doctrinaire and reasonably fair-minded whenever I've heard him in interviews. This makes the retired naval officer the highest-ranking Republican former national security official to break ranks and support the Democratic candidate.
He is not, however, the only Republican foreign policy expert to declare his unwillingness to support Donald Trump. Among the most notable are, Max Boot, a well-regarded neocon military analyst; Mark Salter, former chief of staff to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)), and Peter Mansour, a former top aide to retired General David Petraeus. None of these or the others, though, have said publicly that they'll actually support Ms. Clinton.
I can only imagine the numbers to grow over the next few months, perhaps even getting to the point of opening the floodgates. I say this for two reasons: the first is that having such well-regarded ranking Republicans withdrawing support from Trump, this gives significant protective cover to those who want to but are concerned with hanging alone on a limb, and the more who do so, the more cover that provides. And also, as time passes, Donald Trump is not suddenly going to discover that he is, in fact, a military and national security expert. You don't gain that expertise overnight. More to the point, Donald Trump is who he is, and over time there will be more concerning, lunatic rants that pour out of him. As a result, people who actually are national security experts actually know how actually serious the job and needs actually are, and their ability to support such a deeply-problematic and dangerous candidate will dwindle -- made all the easier for them by the cover provided by those who came before them. See point "A."
The thing is, for as noteworthy as his actions are, I think that Richard Armitage's statement was very gracious. Saying that Trump isn't a Republican is an incredibly polite excuse. As a national security expert, I suspect from all I've ever head him say, that Richard Armitage is less concerning for not being a Republican, than he is a danger to the nation. After all, if your problem with Donald Trump is that he's not really a Republican, then you don't go and then support the Democrat! No, there's something far, far deeper. And it's not even that he's not willing to learn the issues. If you don't learn the issues, you can still arguably make okay decisions based on your world view and sensibility. The problem for Richard Armitage, I am quite certain, is that as a national security expert -- but also a sentient human being -- Donald Trump is not remotely qualified for the presidency and would be a danger to the nation, if not the world.
As indeed is the case.
And there are only two realistic possibilities for who will become the next President of the United States -- Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. So, merely "not voting for Trump" doesn't go far enough. If you see Donald Trump as a megalomaniacal, narcissistic, racist, empty, dangerous bully, than the only option for someone serious is to vote for Hillary Clinton.