Where do the candidates stand?

Artwork by Leigh Cole

As election time draws near, it is time to look at Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s positions on the issues that matter.

Lost in the cacophony of personal attacks, media hype and cult of personality are the true issues. What do the candidates really stand for? What is at stake for America?

While many voters this year are considering a third party candidate, realistically only Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton have a chance to win. The candidates are separated by a wide philosophical gulf and it is time to explore the differences between the two.

First, here are the key issues. Clinton opposes free trade and is in line with the Democratic Party on the issue.

She favors raising taxes on the wealthy and corporate America in order to make them pay their fair share. 

Trump also opposes free trade and this runs counter to the Republican platform. 

He favors lowering the corporate tax in order to position the country as business friendly and hopes to make corporations who have gone overseas because of America’s high tax rate return, and thus bring back more manufacturing jobs.

When it comes to education, the two candidates are opposite each other.

Clinton has recently stated she believes in taxpayer-funded community college education, but she has no track record of this stand before the election.

This may be to appease the Bernie Sander’s voters. 

Clinton strongly opposes school vouchers. She believes public schools are an important component of American society. She wants to improve public schools, rather than using vouchers. 

Clinton believes America needs more teachers and smaller classes. She advocates more funding — then parents will choose public schools. She believes vouchers are unconstitutional, but charter schools are acceptable. This is in line with the teacher unions and the Democratic Party.

Trump strongly favors school vouchers. This position is conservative and is in line with general Republican Party policy.

Trump believes the federal government should not be in the business of running schools. State-funded vouchers should pay for privately-run education at private schools, parochial schools, charter schools, home-schooling, or whatever schools parents choose. 

The two are widely separated on the Immigration issue. 

Clinton believes immigration restrictions are racist because they keep out Hispanics and other non-whites. She wants to reform U.S. immigration laws and use them to increase diversity and cultural tolerance. Social services should be offered to all residents of the United States regardless of immigration status. Many illegal aliens should be offered amnesty.

Based on past statements, Clinton strongly favors immigration reform. Her position is liberal and is in line with general Democratic Party policy.

Trump believes America should enforce existing immigration laws by increasing border patrols, and we should crack down on illegal immigrants already in the U.S. by deportation and by removing all their social benefits. He has proposed building a wall along the border with Mexico

Trump’s position is conservative and is in line with general Republican Party policy.

On the issue of crime, the two are opposite in view. Clinton opposes stricter sentencing and believes there is a systematic racial component to the

American justice system. She is also for stricter gun control, and wants to close loopholes and ban assault weapons. Clinton is in favor of after-school programs for inner city youth to combat crime.

Trump favors mandatory sentencing and enforcing the three strikes program. He is for the death penalty and maintaining strict enforcement of current laws to make sure violent offenders stay off the streets. He is in favor of the 2nd Amendment and enjoys the endorsement of the NRA.

On the issue of same sex marriage, Clinton is liberal and Trump is somewhat liberal. The major difference is Clinton favors full government support and Trump would leave it to the states to vote on.

On the issue of religion in America, both also hold similar views. The main difference is Clinton supports prayer in school but no official school endorsement. Trump wants to keep government out of this area completely. In this case, it is Clinton running against her party’s norm.

On stimulus policies, Clinton strongly favors them as a way to stimulate the economy, while Trump strongly opposes stimulus policies, preferring to allow the market to remain unfettered by governmental interference.

When it comes to taxes, Clinton believes in a progressive income tax. She contends that the wealthy should contribute proportionally more than those with lower incomes.

Trump believes the income tax and the IRS should be abolished. He has proposed a national sales tax, like the FairTax, as a replacement. 

Lastly, the military. Donald Trump favors a military buildup to increase the strength of America’s forces in a dangerous world, while Clinton has stayed relatively silent on the issue. She doesn’t seem to prefer the idea of any increase in defense spending, and that would be in the general line with current Democratic Party values.