Guest Column

By Bernie Marcus

As a backer of former Republican presidential candidates, I now stand in support of Donald Trump because the fate of this nation depends on sending him, and not Hillary Clinton, to the White House.

I know Donald Trump, but we’re not close friends. However, I believe he will begin on Day 1 undoing the damage done by President Barack Obama. I stand ready to help him at every turn.

Like many, I am deeply concerned about the U.S. Supreme Court. When Trump recently released his list of potential appointees, I grew confident in his resolve to keep our court balanced. Even more important: Clinton would push the court leftward for generations. She must be stopped.

But I draw more from lessons learned when we founded The Home Depot in 1978 than from the contentious GOP primaries of 2016. I genuinely believe that if we to started The Home Depot today, we would fail because of the hurdles government, especially the current administration, places in front of small-business owners. I never forget The Home Depot’s small-business roots: We started as a small business with four stores in Atlanta.

I think of the banker who nearly lost his job by taking a risk and giving us a line of credit when we started. He didn’t just look at our balance sheet; he believed in our character and determination. Government regulators don’t allow this under Dodd-Frank — a law Hillary Clinton wants to make far worse.

And going public under Sarbanes-Oxley, a Clinton favorite? Not the company we built, nor thousands of other businesses like ours the nation will never know because they died at birth, strangled by faceless bureaucrats and politicians who erroneously believe that government can do it better.

Yet the risks we took in the 1970s have resulted in millions of jobs — not just at The Home Depot, but at our suppliers, our vendors and even our customers’ businesses. Investors believed in us, and the government did not stop us.

We could not do this today, for the same reason so many Americans have dropped out of the workforce, their wages have been stagnant, their health care is a mess, and our economy has stalled: Obama/Clinton-style government is getting in the way.

I have never seen our government as hostile to free enterprise, especially small business, as it is today. It is driving overregulation, over-taxation, over-litigation and overspending. These overs are killing small businesses, which create the majority of new jobs in America.

Politicians like Obama and Clinton, aided by the media and academia, have peddled a dangerous sentiment that government can provide for Americans better than the private sector. That’s not just false; it’s likely the nexus of Trump’s massively popular slogan, “Make America Great Again.” We saw it firsthand.

The vast majority of early Home Depot associates did not have a college education. But they worked hard and were paid with salaries and stock options. Those options made many people wealthy and fueled our robust growth.

One young man started with us at 17 years of age, bringing carts in from the parking lot. Ultimately, he became a regional president. Imagine Americans vilifying this young man, who became a millionaire and earned every penny of it.

What makes America great? Risk, preparation, hard work and a young man’s willingness to shag carts from a parking lot because he has faith that he and his family can be great.

Donald Trump is right: To inspire more of these men and women, we must make America great again. Record-breaking numbers of Republican primary voters agree. They overwhelmingly want Donald Trump to lead this sea change, and we believe he can. But he needs to stand on our shoulders; he cannot do it alone.

One of the greatest lessons we took away from The Home Depot is to always listen to your customers. Without their input, we surely would have failed. Republican leaders must listen to their customers — their voters — and they have spoken clearly.

As Americans, the choice is abundantly clear: If you want four more years of President Obama, vote for Hillary Clinton; if you want to take the country in a new direction, vote for Donald Trump.

Make no mistake: Republicans who refuse to stand behind their party’s nominee are electing Clinton, whether they cast their ballots for her or not. I have a message for the #NeverTrump crowd: Enough already. Donald Trump is our presumptive nominee, and it is time to get over wishing it were not so. If you don’t, change your social media hashtag to #HillaryGOP.

As a GOP donor who stood steadfastly behind Jeb Bush and who has contributed to candidates for a generation, I urge all Republicans to stand up and be counted in support for Donald Trump.

 

Bernie Marcus is co-founder of The Home Depot and chairman of the Marcus Foundation. This piece originally appeared at RealClear Politics.