You are going to see two candidates on stage Monday in Hempstead, New York, and one of them will be the next president of the United States. We don’t need to watch the debate to make our choice.

In our view, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton is one of the most qualified people ever to run for the office, and she easily earns our endorsement. She has both executive branch and legislative experience as well as an expert’s depth of knowledge in both domestic and foreign policy. Electing the first woman president would open millions of doors to millions of women and girls – not just a symbolic victory, but also an actual step forward in the centuries-long struggle for equal rights.

Republican Donald J. Trump is not in Clinton’s league in matters of experience, character, judgment and discipline. But while the candidates may not be close, the polls say that the race is, and that’s why it’s important for voters to take a hard look at the two people on the debate stage.

You don’t have share our opinion of Clinton’s worth to agree with us that Trump’s election would be a disaster for this country. And if you come to that conclusion, you have only one choice, and that is to vote for Clinton for president.

Donald Trump may be the worst major-party candidate in history. He is self-centered, reckless and mean-spirited. He is a salesman who has never sold anything other than himself, and leaves a trail of broken promises, lawsuits and bankruptcies wherever he goes. He is ignorant about government and world affairs but talks as if he knows it all.

And he takes advantage of racial, ethnic and religious tensions to build support for himself. His careless rhetoric has brought nativists and racists out of the shadows and has spread distrust and division. Trump doesn’t have the character or the judgment to be the president of the United States, and in any normal year, his candidacy would be a joke.

But it’s not a joke this year, and that is partly Clinton’s fault.

Her need for secrecy and control led to a completely avoidable email scandal, which may end up costing her the presidency.

She didn’t need to rejoin the Clinton Foundation board when she left the State Department, and she should have anticipated the negative reaction that decision caused. Even her supporters at times wonder what she’s thinking.

But her negative image is not entirely her fault. Over the decades she has been the center of many false scandals. She’s been accused of murdering her law partner and perpetrating a plot to have the government seize control of the internet. Some of these charges are laughable, but their sheer number creates an impression that there must be something behind them. Clinton also faces a double standard under which any misstatement or elision by her is branded a lie, while the same people laugh when her male opponent does much worse.

Clinton has flaws, but they do not come close to Trump’s, which will force some voters to make a difficult choice.

There will be two candidates on the stage but four on the ballot, and some Mainers will look at the minor-party candidates as a way to vote “none of the above.” Libertarian Gary Johnson is pulling 12 percent of the Maine vote according to our poll, as opposed to 8 percent nationally. Green Party nominee Jill Stein is pulling 3 percent in our Maine poll.

Some of these are protest votes from people who are disgusted by the state of politics in 2016, but the voting booth is not a suggestion box. It’s either Clinton or Trump who will be standing on the Capitol steps next January.

Republicans who can’t stand the idea of helping put Donald Trump in the White House have only one choice, and it’s to swallow hard and vote for Hillary Clinton. Not because they think she would be a good president but because they know Trump would be much, much worse.

And Bernie Sanders supporters who say they could never bring themselves to vote for Clinton have to acknowledge that if they don’t, they will be helping elect someone antithetical to Sanders’ progressive agenda. That will be just as true if they vote for a third-party candidate or leave their ballot blank as if they fill in the oval next to Trump’s name.

There will be a time for them to protest Clinton, but it begins Nov. 9, the day after Election Day, not Nov. 8.

The next president will be on the stage Monday night, and Mainers should use their vote to make sure that it’s not Trump.