If Trump doesn’t know what he believes, how can we believe in Trump?

Doesn’t anyone want to earn my vote?

The top two questions I always like to ask about any candidate for public office are simple but, in the end, all-encompassing.

The first, asked of the candidate, is, “Why are you running?” It is the most elemental inquiry. If someone hasn’t formulated an insightful response — beyond the obligatory, knee-jerk and hopelessly unrevealing, “I want to give something back” — then he doesn’t have an argument worthy of my attention, let alone my vote.

Provide an answer to the “why” question that demonstrates thoughtful introspection, that shows you want to do something rather than simply be someone, and as far as I’m concerned, you’re halfway home.

The second, asked of myself, is “Does the candidate have a pole star?” That is, when nothing is going as planned and everything around him is falling apart, does he have a reliable set of unwavering and honorable navigational principles to attain a declared destination?

Assuming an acceptable answer to the first, the second becomes everything. And that is why, no matter how many times and how many ways I attempt to make the Republican nominee acceptable to my sensibilities, I simply can’t.

A 7

This doesn’t mean I’m a Hillary Clinton voter, or can even imagine a universe where such an eventuality is possible. I’m not. I won’t. I can’t.

Never mind that she’s answered the halfway-home question with unshakeable authority: She means to make history by being the first elected to put lady parts under the Resolute Desk.

And also, darn it, it’s her turn.

The Democratic nominee is everything a presidential candidate shouldn’t be: entitled, presumptive, condescending, grasping, conniving, dishonest, deceitful, ill-tempered, manipulative, greedy, conspiratorial, high-handed, spiteful, paranoid, disrespectful, profane, unethical and a dozen other disqualifying characteristics.

As revealed by public records pried loose from covetous federal agencies by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch and the Associated Press, Hillary’s activities related to the Clinton Foundation alone — she broke the covenant she signed with the White House almost as soon as the ink was dry — are disqualifying.

And that’s without getting into her arguably sinister deeds regarding the Benghazi massacre, whether she put sensitive correspondence at risk by insisting on use of a private email server (we’ve belatedly gotten a clearer idea of what she was attempting to conceal), or whether she bungled oversight of $6 billion misspent by the State Department.

It doesn’t help that Herself’s policy prescriptions — her pole star — amount to Barack Obama’s third term on PEDs. Four more years of 1 percent growth. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, a surging budget deficit. Yay.

A 15

But what of Donald Trump? Like Hillary, he has answered the “Why” question with authority. He wants to “Make America Great Again.” And as well as I like that spectacular halfway house at legendary Turnberry in Scotland, Trump has produced no evidence that he understands or appreciates or is even curious about the nuances or public policy.

He meanders on tax reform. He’s needlessly reckless in his outreach to minorities (a target-rich environment for the right message).

On immigration, his signature issue, he’s famously flopping like a tuna on the deck of an Alaska fishing boat on, prompting Ann Coulter to joke ruefully her tour touting her latest book — “In Trump We Trust, E Pluribus Awesome” — “might be the shortest in history.”

In short, Trump just might, maybe, conceivably have a pole star. He wants to do the right thing. But he wouldn’t recognize a philosophical sextant if you programmed its location into a GPS that guided him through “The Great Courses.”

Jim Geraghty got at this in his “Morning Jolt” newsletter Friday:

“The job of governing is going to throw a dozen different problems at a leader every day. Those problems will have a lot of possible solutions, each with strengths and drawbacks — and every course of action will irk, irritate and alienate some portion of the governed. To sort through it all, it’s best if a leader has clear, well-known, well-established principles and a thought-out philosophy.”

This is why we always have preferred governors, the occasional senator and even generals as presidents and presidential candidates. They’ve already put their theory of command through the wringer.

Theoretically, we like the idea of making government adhere to the presumed unforgiving strictures of business (the former board of Solyndra was not available for comment), but we’re seeing in real time what happens to a big-time CEO accustomed to getting what he wants with a snap of the fingers. Voters are less easily intimidated than apprentices.

As I said, I’m definitely #NeverHillary. For the moment, I’m also #NeverTrump. Provisionally, anyway. I concede that’s an oxymoron, but from time to time the Donald does brush up against themes and remedies with which I agree.

If he demonstrated he understood what these things — familiar positions on taxes, regulations, national defense and judges which are part of any traditional conservative’s checklist — meant, why they’re important and what they would do if unleashed, then I could come around. Just now, however, he demonstrates no signs that he is either knowledgeable nor interested.

And time is running out.

In case you missed this weeks Politically Incorrect Podcast then you can listen now!

Veteran journalist and center-right blogger Tom Jackson has worked for newspapers in Washington D.C., Sacramento, Calif., and Tampa, Fla., racking up state and national awards for writing, editing and design along the way. Tom also has been published in assorted sports magazines, and his work has been included in several annual “Best Sports Stories” collections. A University of Florida alumnus, St. Louis Cardinals fan and eager-if-haphazard golfer, Tom splits time between Tampa and Cashiers, N.C., with his wife, two children and a couple of yappy dogs.